The White House has confirmed that Osama bin Laden was unarmed when American commandoes stormed his compound. But they say the al Qaeda chief did put up resistance.
Washington says it shared its intelligence with no other country including Pakistan.
The assertion on the White House website was that secrecy was considered as essential to the raid team’s success. The compound is said to be close to both a civilian health centre and Pakistan’s top military college.
John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for US Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, briefing the media, said: “We certainly were planning for the possibility, which we thought was going to be remote, given that he would likely resist arrest, but that we would be able to capture him.”
Whatever has been said about the compound’s fortress-like security, including descriptions of bin Laden’s house within it as a mansion, video said to be of the scene where his life ended, in contrast, presents it as relatively modest.
Washington says the body was helicoptered out and was “eased” into the Arabian Sea.
Brennan said: “The disposal of — 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.”
US officials say they are considering the release of photos of the burial at sea; a photo of bin Laden’s dead body that was published by many media outlets shortly after the raid was proven to be a fake.
Muslims around the globe have condemned the method of burial. Also provoking heated argument is what role Pakistan played leading up to and in the final act.
Brennan said: “I think it’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time.”
Political observers say US-Pakistan ties look set to suffer further over lingering questions about complicity.