U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he had decided not to release a photograph showing the body of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan at the beginning of the week.
“That is not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies,” Obama said during an interview with CBS, which is scheduled to air on its “60 Minutes” program this coming Sunday. He added that it was important to keep photographic evidence from “floating around as incitement or propaganda tool.”
According to an excerpt of the interview read to reporters by White House spokesman Jay Carney, Obama said that “there is no doubt that bin Laden is dead. Certainly there is... no doubt among Al-Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”
AFP reported that Obama had consulted with members of his national security team about whether to release the photo, before making his decision not to do so.
“It is not in our national security interests to allow those images, as has been in the past been the case, to become icons to rally opinion against the United States,” Carney told reporters, and added that bin Laden’s identity had been firmly established and as such, Obama saw “no other compelling reason” to release the photograph.
While photos and videos of the house where bin Laden was killed have been shown on television, the Obama Administration was contemplating whether to release photos of his body as proof that he was killed. On Tuesday, CIA chief Leon Panetta said that he believes the photo will eventually be published.
Meanwhile, it was reported on Wednesday that bin Laden had cash totaling about $740 U.S. sewn into his clothing, along with two telephone numbers, when he was killed, despite his wife acting as a human shield. Other than that, he was unarmed, a fact which the White House had confirmed on Tuesday.