Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed in front of his 12-year-old daughter in Pakistan, the US has admitted.
It was originally suggested that bin Laden had a firearm and was shot dead only after he threatened to use it. Reports from White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted that the US Navy Seal commandos had been prepared to take bin Laden alive and had killed him when he “resisted” capture.
However it had now emerged that al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden did not have a gun when he was shot dead through the left eye.
“Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed,” Carney said.
Reports that one of bin Laden’s wives was killed after being used as a human shield also appear to be false as she was only shot in the leg and is not in a critical condition.
Carney’s contradiction of previous official statements, which suggested that bin Laden had an automatic weapon, appear to undermine the White House’s claims that the commandos had been told to capture him alive if possible.
When questioned about that fact that bin Laden was not armed when he was killed by Navy Seals, Carney said: “Resistance does not require a firearm.”
The new revelations about bin Laden’s death were made after Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the White House to make public the “precise facts surrounding his killing” to ensure it stood up to international law.
The US has also had to backtrack on the story that bin Laden forced his wife to sacrifice her life by using her as a human shield. The woman is alive and in custody with several of her children.
Carney said: “In the room with bin Laden a woman – bin Laden’s wife – rushed the US assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed.”
He continued to say that the actions of the Navy Seals had been professional at all times.
“[Bin Laden] resisted. The US personnel on the ground handled themselves with the utmost professionalism. He was killed in an operation because of the resistance that they met.”
The new version of events is an embarrassing backtrack for the US and is likely to amplify calls for pictures of Osama bin Laden’s dead body to be released as “proof” that the al Qaeda chief is really dead.
The White House says it has not ruled out making public the photographs of bin Laden’s corpse, but claims the “gruesome” pictures may be too “inflammatory” to be released.
However, last night CIA boss Leon Panetta said he was confident that the pictures of bin Laden’s dead body will be shown to the world.
“We got bin Laden, and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him,” Panetta said.
The US government is reported to have has three sets of photos of bin Laden’s body, with the clearest shots showing a gaping bullet wound in his head.