Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most notorious terrorist, was killed by a team of the US Navy Seals in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. However, he may be the only terrorist still being discussed in national and international media for all the wrong reasons. Twenty months after he was shot dead in a raid in Abbottabad, a garrison city of Pakistan that is around 130 miles from Islamabad, the United States told a federal appeals court on Thursday that it is not ready to release images of the terrorist taken after his death. Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the release of images of Bin Laden may lead to violence and inflame tensions.
The appeal court is hearing the arguments in a lawsuit over if the government must release images of the terrorists taken after his death under the Freedom of Information Act, a 1966 law that guarantees public access to some government official documents and record. However, in this particular case the Obama administration maintains the release of images of Bin Laden may incite violence that could lead to terrorist attacks on the US troops and civilians in Afghanistan. During hearing of the case, the judges hinted to defer the judgment that means the images would not be released, at least not very soon.
On the other hand, Judicial Watch that is pursuing the case said that the government has failed to show any specific danger in case the images are made public; therefore the judges should go ahead with to order release of the photographs. The Judicial Watch also claims that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives might not have followed official procedures while classifying images as secret. Therefore, there is no harm in releasing the photographs under the Freedom of Information Act. According to legal wizards, the judgment on the case is likely to be announced in the next couple of months. It may be pertinent to mention here that a lower court judge gave verdict in favor of the government in April last year.
The media reports suggest that the US Navy Seal team that shot Bin Laden dead in a highly fortified compound in Pakistan has taken 52 photographs or made video clips of the terrorist during the sting operation. The government says the photographs were taken at Bin Laden’s compounds in Abbottabad, the transportation of the terrorist’s body to a US ship and his burial at sea. The US officials claim that Bin Laden’s body was handled as per teachings of Islam and buried in the sea after fulfilling Islamic obligations. Pakistani authorities have also set up a judicial commission to probe presence of the terrorist in Pakistan and his alleged links with the country’s intelligence agencies. The commission has submitted the report with Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; so let’s wait for the findings to be made public.