Why was Osama's body buried in sea? US explains

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Osama Bin Laden
Washington, May 3: Burial at sea was the "best" option available to Osama bin Laden, killed by the US special forces in Pakistan's Abbottabad, the White House said as it asserted his body was handled strictly in accordance with the Islamic practices.

"The burial of bin Laden's remains was done in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. It was prepared in accordance with the Islamic requirements," John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, told reporters at the White House.

"We early on made provisions for that type of burial, and we wanted to make sure that it was going to be done, again, in strict conformance," he said.

"So it was taken care of in the appropriate way. I'm not going to go into details about sort of the where, but that burial has taken place. It took place earlier today, our time."

Earlier, a senior Defense official said the religious rites were conducted for the deceased on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, which is located in the North Arabian Sea.

"Preparations for at-sea burial began at 1:10 am Eastern Standard Time and were completed at 2:00 am Eastern Standard Time," he said.

Traditional procedures for Islamic burial were followed.

Osama's body was washed and then placed in a white sheet.

"The body was placed in a weighted bag, 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," the official said.

Brennan said it was decided much in advance that in the "best interests of all involved that this burial take place, again, according to Islamic requirements, at sea."

"It was determined that there is requirement in Islamic law that an individual be buried within 24 hours -- went inside of Pakistan, carried out the operation; he was killed, he was removed from Pakistan," he said.

"There were certain steps that had to be taken because of the nature of the operation, and we wanted to make sure we were able to do that in the time period allotted for it.

"Going to another country; making those arrangements, requirements would have exceeded that time period in our view," White House official said.

"As so therefore we thought that the best way to ensure that his body was given an appropriate Islamic burial was to take those actions that would allow us to do that burial at sea," Brennan said adding that the officials consulted the appropriate specialists and experts.

Brennan asserted burials at sea take place on a regular basis. "The US military has the ability to ensure that burial is done in a manner that is, again, consistent with Islamic law, as well as consistent with for what the requirements are for a burial at sea.

"And so that burial was done appropriately."

A senior defense official said the justification for burial at sea is when there is no land alternative.

"According to Islamic teachings and practice, deceased must be buried with proper procedures within 24 hours.

That was the basis for that decision," he said.

"There was no available alternative in terms of a country that was willing to accept the body, and we took pains to ensure that we were compliant with Muslim tradition and law, and sought to dispose of the body, using the appropriate procedures and rituals, within 24 hours," the defense official said.

The official did not confirm or deny was any country approached for burial of Osama bin Laden.

"After we had confidence that it was bin Laden and that he was dead, we took the steps that we had agreed to in the inter-agency that were necessary to ensure that that burial at sea was the most appropriate thing to do. And so we touched base with the right people.

"I'm not going to go into any details about who we might have consulted with in the aftermath of his death and before his burial," he said.

PTI

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