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Osama Bin Laden raid ‘not assassination’: US law chief
London/ WASHINGTON, May 12 (Agencies):
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Published on 12 May. 2011 10:18 PM IST
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The US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden was “not an assassination”, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday after the al Qaeda leader’s sons denounced the operation.
Holder told the BBC the raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan on May 02 was a “kill or capture mission” and that his surrender would have been accepted if offered, but that the safety of US Navy commandos was paramount.
“What happened to bin Laden was not an assassination,” Holder said.
“I think the action that we took against him can be seen as an act of national self-defence. You have to remember it is lawful to target an enemy commander,” he said.
The top US legal official said there was no indication that bin Laden was going to surrender and it was believed he could be wearing a suicide vest. “It was a kill or capture mission. If there was a possibility of a feasible surrender that would have occurred, but their protection, that is the protection of the force that went into the compound, was uppermost in their minds,” said Holder.
“This is a man who swore he would never be taken alive. There were some indications that perhaps he wore a suicide vest, there’s indications that perhaps there were weapons in the room.”
Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea hours after the operation in which US special forces in helicopters flew under Pakistani radar cover and raided a house in the northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad. Bin Laden’s sons on Tuesday denounced his “arbitrary killing” and burial at sea.
In a statement given to the New York Times, the sons asked why their father “was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that the truth is revealed to the people of the world.”
US senator describes ‘gruesome’ Osama bin Laden photos
A Republican who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee viewed the death photos of Osama bin Laden on Wednesday and said the pictures -- some gruesome -- leave no doubt the al-Qaida leader is dead.
“Absolutely no question about it. A lot of people out there say ‘I want to see the pictures’ but I’ve already seen them. That was him. He’s gone. He’s history,” James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said on CNN.
Inhofe said he saw 15 photographs, nine taken at the scene of the May 2 raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan; three from the USS Vinson, where bin Laden’s body was prepared for burial at sea; and three older photographs to compare for positive identification.
“They’re gruesome, of course, because it was taken right after the incident,” Inhofe said in a separate interview on Fox News.
Inhofe described some photos that showed brain matter protruding from an eye socket. But the senator, a proponent of releasing the pictures, said he had not changed his mind after viewing them.
Inhofe said he thinks at least two photos from the USS Vinson showing the body being cleaned should be released because they depict an easily identifiable bin Laden.
“I don’t buy this whole concept that’s coming out of the White House that you don’t want to do this -- you might make the terrorists mad,” Inhofe said.
US President Barack Obama decided not to release post-mortem photos of bin Laden because doing so could incite violence and be used as an al-Qaida propaganda tool.
The CIA on Tuesday offered to show the photos to members of the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees. Inhofe was the first member of the Senate to take the agency up its offer.
“I really wanted to do it so I could say, yes, I have seen it and to allay any of these concerns that perhaps he was not dead,” Inhofe said. “He’s dead. He’s gone.”

 
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