LONDON — A statement purporting to come from a son of Osama bin Laden denounced the al-Qaeda leader’s killing as “criminal” and said his burial at sea had humiliated the family, an online monitoring service said.
The statement, attributed to Omar bin Laden, bin Laden’s fourth-eldest son, said the al-Qaeda chief’s children reserved the right to take legal action in the United States and internationally to “determine the true fate of our vanished father,” the SITE Intelligence Group said.
There was no independent confirmation of the authenticity of the letter, published on the Web site of Islamist ideologue Abu Walid al-Masri, although several specialists on militant propaganda said the text appeared genuine.
Omar bin Laden, who has been based in the Persian Gulf region in recent years, did not immediately respond to e-mailed and telephoned requests for comment.
The letter said, in part: “We hold the American President Obama legally responsible to clarify the fate of our father, Osama bin Laden, for it is unacceptable, humanely and religiously, to dispose of a person with such importance and status among his people, by throwing his body into the sea in that way, which demeans and humiliates his family and his supporters and which challenges religious provisions and feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims.”
Some Muslims have voiced misgivings about the way U.S. forces killed bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan early this month and disposed of his body in the northern Arabian Sea. Many have described the sea burial as a violation of Islamic custom.
The letter said the U.S. administration had offered no proof to support its account of the mission. It also alleged that the goal of the raid had been to kill and not to arrest, adding that afterward the American commandos had “rushed to dispose of the body.”
Questions have multiplied since the White House said the al-Qaeda leader was unarmed when U.S. helicopter-borne commandos raided the villa where he was hiding in the city of Abbottabad.