Skip to main content

Widely distributed death photo of Osama bin Laden is fake

By Dana Ford, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A fake image of bin Laden's bloodied face went viral on the Internet
  • It was picked up by news organizations around the world
  • U.S. authorities are weighing whether to release an actual image of his corpse

(CNN) -- A graphic image of what was reported to be Osama bin Laden's bloodied face, which went viral on the Internet and was plastered on the front page of newspapers around the world, is a fake.

The lower part of the photograph, which shows his partially opened mouth and graying beard, is almost identical to another image of bin Laden published years ago. The upper half shows his wounds in detail greater than that of the rest of the photo and there are unusual and abrupt shifts in the coloration of his skin.

A photographer consulted by CNN said the gruesome photograph is most definitely not real.

"I have seen a great number of poorly Photoshopped images in my time as a photographer and I can tell by the pixels that it is a fake," said Kenna Lindsay, a New York-based photographer who works with composite images.

Bin Laden's legacy in London
Imam talks bin Laden's death and beyond
Questioning Afghanistan support
RELATED TOPICS

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported the picture is actually a combination of two photographs: a bloodied corpse and a real image of bin Laden that was taken in 1998 and used by the Reuters news agency.

The doctored image blanketed the Internet in the hours after bin Laden's death and was picked up by news groups far and wide, in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Senegal and Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are weighing whether to release an actual image of bin Laden's corpse. A photograph could help to convince doubters about his death, but it also could inflame passions against the United States.

"I'll be candid that there are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of this firefight," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday. "We're making an evaluation about the need to do that."

A senior government official involved in the discussions said a photo release could come as early as Tuesday.

A second government official familiar with intelligence matters said deliberations are leaning toward a release, but emphasized that the decision "isn't unanimous and everyone has understandable hesitation."

Part of complete coverage on
Q&A: al Qaeda's power struggle
The appointment of a former Egyptian army lieutenant as the interim leader of al Qaeda suggests a power struggle within the Islamist organization.
Jihadists eager to avenge Osama
From Morocco to the Himalayas, online forums associated with al Qaeda overflow with declarations that global jihad will continue.
Who are al Qaeda's most wanted?
He was its founder and strategic guiding force, but now that Osama bin Laden is dead, who are al Qaeda's most wanted leaders?
U.S. to speak to bin Laden's wives
The United States will be given access to Osama bin Laden's wives, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told CNN Tuesday.
Children recall bin Laden's compound
Children in Abbottabad said they noticed oddities at bin Laden's compound but were oblivious he was hiding in the city.
Exclusive: Bin Laden's young bride
Amal al-Sadah was "a quiet, polite, easygoing and confident teenager" who came from a big, conservative family in Yemen.
Roots of terror untouched by death
As the death of Osama bin Laden reverberates around the world the root causes of extremism are apparently largely being ignored.
Al Qaeda threats, terror plans surface
Saber-rattling al Qaeda warnings against the U.S. emerged as the killing of Osama bin Laden continued to yield a trove of intelligence.
 
Quick Job Search