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Journal of America Team:

 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

 Managing Editor:
Mertze Dahlin   

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Arthur Scott

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July 14, 2016

Keeping alive the ghost of Osama Bin Laden

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

A dubious website, the SITE Intelligence Group, has quoted Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama Bin Laden, as threatening revenge against the U.S. for assassinating his father.

The SITE Intelligence Group referred to an audio message of Hamza posted online where he said:

 “We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.

“As for the revenge by the Islamic nation for Sheikh Osama, may Allah have mercy on him, it is not revenge for Osama the person but it is revenge for those who defended Islam.

What is SITE Intelligence Group?

According to Wikipedia, Bethesda, Maryland-based SITE Intelligence Group was known as the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Institute from 2002 to 2008. SITE is led by the Israeli analyst Rita Katz.

Her group relies on government contracts and corporate clients and she is among the most controversial of the cyberspace monitors. While some experts praise her research as solid, some of her targets view her as a vigilante. Several Islamic groups and charities, for example, sued for defamation after she claimed they were terrorist fronts, even though they were not charged with a crime, the New York Times reported on September 23, 2004.

On 30 May 2008, The Daily Telegraph published an article reporting that SITE had wrongly identified footage from the post-apocalyptic computer game Fallout 3 as being created by terrorists considering a nuclear attack against the West.

According to the official website of the SITE Intelligence Group, Rita Katz is the Executive Director and founder of the SITE Intelligence Group, a non-governmental counterterrorism organization.

Katz has testified before Congress and in terrorism trials, and had personally briefed government officials at the White House, as well as investigators in the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security. Born in Iraq and a graduate of Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, Katz is fluent in Arabic.

This is not the first time the SITE Intelligence Group has released Hamza’s statement. On August 16, 2015 the group referred to Hamza’s video message where he called for lone wolf attacks in the US and in countries that are its allies.

Al-Qaeda hopes to renew its popularity by "reviving the brand" of Bin Laden, SITE Group’s Executive Director Rita Katz said.

Hamza, now in his mid-twenties, was at his father's side in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks and spent time with him in Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion pushed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership there, according to the Brookings Institution.

 "Hamza provides a new face for al Qaeda, one that directly connects to the group's founder. He is an articulate and dangerous enemy," says Bruce Riedel of Brookings.

Osama bin Laden had 23 children. Hamza is the youngest son of Osama and Khairiah Sabar. His mother and two other wives were living at the Abbottabad compound when US forces launched “Operation Geronimo” in which Osama Bin Laden was allegedly killed. Hamza, believed to be in his mid-20s, was not at the residence at the time.

Was Osama Bin Laden really buried at sea?

The Huffington Post reported in March 2012 that Osama Bin Laden was apparently buried in the waters of the north Arabian Sea, but internal emails from intelligence service Stratfor, obtained by hacker group Anonymous and posted by WikiLeaks suggest otherwise.

According to official accounts, he was wrapped in a sheet and “eased” off the decks of the U.S.S Carl Vinson just hours after he was killed on May 2 in a United States-led operation, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

But a leaked email from Stratfor vice president for intelligence Fred Burton, sent on May 2, 2011, at 5.26am states: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.” A subsequent email on the same day at 5.51am states: “Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane. Than onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.”

US forces said Bin Laden was killed in the siege at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on  May 2, 2011, just after 1am local time.

At 6.26am Burton wrote: “If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi’s ashes. We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc. “His body is a crime scene and I don’t see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”

The reference to Eichmann regards the cremation of the Nazi’s body following his capture, trial and execution, in order to prevent any memorial or shrine being built.

Stratfor CEO George Friedman appears to agree, noting: “Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which I doubt happened.”

John Hudson of The Atlantic Wire on March 6, 2012 that there are so many dubious aspects of the Stratfor story it's hard to know where to begin.

Anyway, the CIA and Pentagon are loath to officially comment on the story but a government official tells us, "There is no truth whatsoever to the allegations made in the article." Later in an update to the story a Pentagon spokesman, in an e-mail to The Atlantic Wire, was quoted as denying the accusation that bin Laden was cremated: 

“Traditional procedures for Islamic burial were followed for Osama bin Laden.  His body was washed and then placed in a white sheet.  The body was placed in a weighted bag and a military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker.  After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased body eased into the sea.  Any allegations otherwise are simply false.”

Conspiracy theories

According to Wikipedia, the death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to various conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and rumors. These include the ideas that bin Laden had been dead for years, or is still alive. Doubts about bin Laden's death were fueled by the U.S. military's supposed disposal of his body at sea, the decision to not release any photographic or DNA evidence of bin Laden's death to the public the contradicting accounts of the incident (with the official story on the raid appearing to change or directly contradict previous assertions), and the 25-minute blackout during the raid on bin Laden's compound during which a live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the U.S. special forces was cut off.

On May 1, 2011, an image purporting to show a dead bin Laden was broadcast on Pakistani television. Though the story was picked up by much of the British press, as well the Associated Press, it was swiftly removed from websites after it was exposed as a fake on Twitter. On May 4, the Obama administration announced it would not release any images of Bin Laden's dead body.

Retired General Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), stated in an interview with CNN that he believed bin Laden had died many years ago, and that the official death story given out by the American media was a hoax. Furthermore, he thinks the American government knew about bin Laden's death for years, "They must have known that he had died some years ago so they were waiting. They were keeping this story on the ice and they were looking for an appropriate moment and it couldn't be a better moment because President Obama had to fight off his first salvo in his next year's election as he runs for the presidential and for the White House and I think it is a very appropriate time to come out, bring this out of the closet.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America.