Conspiracy theories on Osama take root in Pakistan
Revelations that Osama bin Laden was killed on the doorstep seemed so
outlandish that conspiracy theories of nefarious US activities raced
like wildfire through the quiet Pakistani town.
Nestled in pine-dotted hills, the Bilal suburb of the relatively
well-off garrison town of Abbottabad was the last place in Pakistan
where people would ever imagine that the world's "most wanted" man was
Unlike other parts of the northwest, many people wear Western dress.
Unlike in bin Laden's native Saudi Arabia, women are seen driving cars
and no one who spoke to AFP said they had ever seen an Arab.
The first time they realised anything was wrong, the neighbours say,
was when helicopters suddenly roared overhead in the dead of night,
before loud explosions and then gunfire deafened the area. Frightened,
they woke up. But it was only when they switched on the television that
they heard US President Barack Obama say the world's most-wanted
terrorist, with a $25 million price on his head, had been killed in
Educated professionals went from astonished to incredulous to
disbelieving, delving into conspiracy theories that run deep in
Pakistan, fanned by widespread distrust of the government's official
ally in the war on terror.
Bashir Qureshi, 61, who lives just a bean field away from where bin
Laden was shot and whose windows were blown out in the raid, was
"Nobody believes it. We've never seen any Arabs around here," he said
laughing. "They (the US) said they had thrown his body to the sea! This
is wrong, he was not here."
Even a policeman guarding the site was doubtful why he was there.
"I don't believe he was there. We were called to come at 3:00 am
(2230 GMT Sunday) but we've seen nothing, the operation was already
Shakil Ahmed, who works for a pharmaceutical company, said he
believed that the US desire to pull 130,000 international troops out of
Afghanistan and wrap up a 10-year war against the Taliban was a motive
for peddling lies.
In Cairo, the top Sunni Muslim authority said Islam opposes burials
at sea. In Pakistan's city of Lahore, a prominent cleric questioned the
"It could create doubts and can trigger suspicions," said Mufti
Raghib Naeemi, whose father - Sarfraz Naeemi, an anti-Taliban scholar -
was killed in a suicide attack in Lahore in 2009.
Defence analyst Imtiaz Gul said conspiracy theories were only to be
expected in a country where anti-Americanism is rampant, given that
nobody had seen the body and that the nature of the covert operation
raised so many questions.
"Unless Americans present proof, it will remain a subject of
speculation," Gul said. "Because things are not transparent."
"As nobody knew that he was living there, it raises many doubts like
the Americans might have had him somewhere else and brought him along in
"Since there were no casualties in the helicopter crash it also
raises the question whether it was Osama bin Laden in that helicopter,"
he said. AFP