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A note to selected readers: Osama bin Laden really is dead

May 6, 2011 | 10:41 am

Osama Sunday's announcement by President Obama that a team of U.S. commandos had killed Osama bin Laden gave rise to a number of, umm, interesting comments on the blog and at the Opinion section's Facebook page declaring that the whole thing was faked. Like the moon landing, I suppose, or Elvis' death. Convinced that the burial at sea was a telltale sign of a cover-up, some argued that bin Laden wasn't really dead. Others said that he had been dead for years, but Obama staged an assault on a Pakistani compound in order to boost his popularity.

Sometimes the same people made both arguments.

So I wonder what the skeptics will make of the Associated Press' report Friday morning that Al Qaeda had confirmed its leader's passing at the hands of the Great Satan? According to the AP, the shadowy terrorist group posted an 11-paragraph statement online that said, in part:

The blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is too precious to us and to all Muslims to go in vain. We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries.

Of course, there's no proof that the statement actually came from Al Qaeda. Like the Mafia, the group doesn't have an official spokesman. The new statement, dated Tuesday, appeared Friday on the same jihad-friendly websites that had posted previous statements purportedly from the terrorist organization's upper echelon. So that may be too flimsy to convince hard-core skeptics.

Still, I thought I'd throw this out there so the naysayers would come forth again to explain how we're all being suckered into believing that U.S. troops pulled off a Mission: Impossible in the shadow of an elite Pakistani military installation. Granted, the ever-shifting versions of what actually happened inside the compound haven't helped the administration's credibility. But given the apparent confirmation from Bin Laden's comrades in improvised arms, why persist in the unbelief?

RELATED:

Osama bin Laden "deathers"

Osama bin Laden: Why the burial at sea?

Killing vs. capturing Osama bin Laden

A return to the torture debate

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Count these protesters outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Friday among those who believe Osama bin Laden is dead. Credit: Maya Alleruzzo / Associated Press

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