Osama Bin Laden was given an Islamic burial at sea, US officials revealed, in a move which will rob the terror leader’s followers of a shrine.
The US claimed the sea burial was handled in accordance to Muslim laws which demand the body should be washed, wrapped and buried within 24 hours.
A defence official said Bin Laden’s corpse was taken aboard an American aircraft carrier and buried in the North Arabian Sea, although the exact location was not revealed.
He said “preparations for at-sea burial began at 1.10am EST (6.10am UK time)” and were completed 50 minutes later.
The body was placed in a white sheet and then a weighted bag, and a military officer read “prepared religious remarks”, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker, before the body was eased into the sea.
The decision has exercised conspiracy theorists, who demanded to know why Bin Laden’s body was not preserved and displayed to prove the US had actually killed him, while some clerics dubbed it a deliberate insult to Islam.
The defence official made no comment on claims that Saudi Arabia had refused to accept Saudi-born Bin Laden’s corpse for burial.
The White House is understood to have been warned it would be difficult to find any country willing to accept his remains.
The haste of the burial has been questioned, as the US has not always observed the 24-hour rule for Muslim burials.
In 2003 the bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay were embalmed and held for 11 days before they were released for burial.
The US is also thought to have been anxious to avoid burying the corpse on land over fears the grave would become a rallying point for militants, even if left unmarked. Islamic teachings say burials such as Bin Laden’s are permissible if the person has died while travelling at sea and they are too far from land to permit a burial.
But Bin Laden died on land and should have been buried with his head pointed towards Mecca, clerics said.
Radical preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, who is banned from returning to Britain, said: “The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial.” Dubai’s highest official of religious law, grand mufti Mohammed al-Qubaisi, said: “Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances. This is not one of them.
“They [the US] can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it according to Islam.
“If the family does not want him, it’s really simple in Islam - you dig up a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that’s it.”
Islamic scholar Abdul Sattar al-Janabi, who preaches in Baghdad, added: “What was done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some Muslims.
“It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea.”
But Mohammed Qudah, a professor of Islamic law at the University of Jordan, suggested burial at sea was not forbidden.
He said: “The land and the sea belong to God, who is able to protect and raise the dead at the end of times for Judgment Day.” - Daily Mail