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Iran Media Questions Bin Laden's Death, Demands 'Leave Afghanistan Now'


02 May 2011 23:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

OsamaIRNA.jpg11:30 p.m., 12 Ordibehesht/May 2 Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, is providing extensive coverage of the killing yesterday of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The following text appears in identical form in two different articles on the Press TV website:
Analysts and military experts believe that the United States had delayed the killing of bin Laden to continue the presence of US-led forces in war-torn Afghanistan, a Press TV correspondent reported. The lack of transparency over bin Laden's death has cast further doubt over the announcement.

Meanwhile, a US official says bin Laden's body has been buried at sea, alleging that his hasty burial was in accordance with Islamic law, which requires burial within 24 hours of death.

This is while burial at sea is not an Islamic practice and Islam does not determine a timeframe for burial.

The official added that finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world's most wanted man was difficult, so the US decided to bury him at sea.

The two central paragraphs, focusing on the method and timing of Bin Laden's burial, appear verbatim in at least five additional reports on Press TV. The website gives further coverage to the issue by republishing an analysis by Time's Glen Levy, "Why Was Bin Laden Buried at Sea So Quickly?"

In "Bush Vows His War Will Go On," Press TV places Bin Laden's death within the following military-political context:

The so-called "War on Terror" was introduced by [President George W.] Bush following the September 11, 2001 attacks on US soil.

Under Bush, the US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under the pretext to hunt down the al-Qaeda leader, who claimed responsibility for the terrorist assault, and to bring peace and stability to the country.

However, the US has failed to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and militants are making gains 10 years after the invasion.

Press TV prominently features an excerpt of an on-camera interview with Benazir Bhutto conducted in late 2007 in which the former prime minister of Pakistan referred to "Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama Bin Laden." Bhutto herself was assassinated the month after the interview was conducted. According to Press TV, her 2007 statement "contributes to the uncertainty surrounding US claims about Osama bin Laden's death." Bhutto's assertion is also referenced in another article on the website, "Bin Laden Death Brings Joy to US."

Speaking with Kabul political analyst Aminuddin Hamidi, a Press TV interviewer raises the question of whether Bin Laden had in fact been "dead for a while." When Hamidi rejects the notion, the interviewer observes, "Many of the analysts have differing views on that." Later in the conversation, the Press TV correspondent poses the following question: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a few hours ago, said that the killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan proved Kabul's long-standing position that the war on terror was not routed in Afghanistan. Don't you think that that's sort of a hint to the US that they're in the wrong place and their business with Afghanistan is done and they could go now?"

Other commentary on Bin Laden's death featured on Press TV includes what is described as an "exclusive interview" with John Nichols, political correspondent for the progressive American weekly The Nation. Nichols analyzes the development as a "political coup" for U.S. President Barack Obama. Kian Mokhtari writes in his opinion piece "Bin Laden Dies in a Hail of Bullets!" that "hopefully his death will provide justifiable reasons for the foreign forces present in the region to leave in large enough numbers to allow peace to return." And American writer David Swanson, in a piece republished from the Counterpunch website, argues,

Killing will lead only to more killing. There will be no review of bin Laden's alleged crimes, as a trial would have provided. There will be no review of earlier U.S. support for bin Laden. There will be no review of U.S. failures to prevent the September 11th attacks. Instead, there will be bitterness, hatred, and more violence, with the message being communicated to all sides that might makes right and murder is the way in which someone is, in President Obama's words, brought to justice. [...]

Our senseless wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Libya must be ended. Keeping bin Laden alive and threatening, assisted in keeping the war machine churning its bloody way through cities and flesh for years. No wonder President Bush was, as he said, not interested in tracking bin Laden down. [...]

Imagine the propaganda that the U.S. media could make of video footage of a foreign country where the primitive brutes are dancing in the streets to celebrate the murder of a tribal enemy. That is the propaganda we've just handed those who will view bin Laden as a martyr. When their revenge comes, we will know exactly what we are supposed to do: exact more revenge in turn to keep the cycle going.

The Press TV website runs a nonscientific readers' poll that appears on most of its article pages. Here is the current poll and the results as of the time of this roundup's publication:

Now that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladan has been confirmed dead,

* A) the US military can no longer justify its presence in the region. 32%

* B) the US military should continue its presence in the region to maintain peace. 19%

* C) the US military should leave the region as soon as possible. 49%

The English-language website of IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic, features an item headlined "FM Spokesman: Bin Laden's Death Leaves No Excuse for Foreign Troops to Stay in Region," in which an official found in Bin Laden's demise an opportunity to condemn Israel:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Monday that with Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's death there will remain no excuse for foreigners to send troops to the region to fight terrorism. [...]

He said, "We hope the event will put an end to war, bloodshed and killing of innocent people and will lead to restoration of peace and tranquility to the region."

As [a] major victim of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns any sort of terrorist acts including those being committed by the Zionist regime in any part of the world, he said.

Mehmanparast is also quoted at length in the lead story -- "Bin Laden Is Dead, Leave Afghanistan Now" -- on the English-language website of Mehr News Agency, operated by the Islamic Propagation Organization. As the article puts it, "there are still many unanswered questions about the direction the so-called war on terrorism will take now, and questions about Bin Laden's life, his cooperation with the CIA, and his leadership of Al-Qaeda that Bin Laden may take to the grave."

OsamaMontageMehr.jpgThe regime-aligned Fars News Agency website reports that "all communication systems in Pakistan," including cellphones, landlines, and the Internet "were switched off" during the U.S. operation that led to Bin Laden's death. Elsewhere on Fars, Majles deputy Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, suggests that the United States and al-Qaeda have actually been working hand in hand and offers an explanation for the timing of the raid: "The West was fully satisfied with bin Laden's performance during the past years and today...it was obliged to kill him to prevent possible leakage of the priceless intelligence that he had."

Fars also offers analysis of the event from two regional observers. Amin Hatit, a retired Lebanese general, says, "Bin Laden's death announcement by US President Obama is kind of a compensation for the great failures of the US in Afghanistan." And General Hamid Gol, former director of Pakistan's Military Intelligence Organization, again raises questions about the veracity of the widely accepted version of events:

"[T]he pictures of bin Laden's dead body and the dark relations between the American and Pakistani intelligence agencies" can ma[k]e everyone suspicious of the US report on the death of the al-Qaeda leader.

"The pictures of bin Laden's corpse show him agile and strong, while the al-Qaeda leader was sick and was receiving medical treatment for his illness. Hence, we cannot rest assured that bin Laden was killed during [...] last night['s] operations," Gol said.

General Gol said killing bin Laden is not a great [accomplishment] as it [would have been] years ago, because bin Laden was a used card for the West's ominous goals in the Muslim countries and he was no [longer] important in the campaign on terrorism, specially considering that the al-Qaeda is now stronger than [in] the past and has even found strong footholds in Europe.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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