Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

4 May 2011

Questions around operation against Osama bin Laden

Questions around operation against Osama bin Laden

Amnesty International today asked the US and Pakistani authorities to clarify aspects of the operation in Abbottabad in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

The organization specifically requested information on the status and whereabouts of those who were with bin Laden and the circumstances of his killing.

“We are seeking information from the US and Pakistani authorities about how many people were in the compound at the time of the operation, what happened to them and specifically what is the status and current whereabouts of the survivors,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

According to reports attributed to Pakistani intelligence officials, 18 people were in bin Laden’s compound at the time of the US attack. 

US officials have said that five people were killed and two women were injured – one of whom was identified as bin Laden’s wife – and that at the end of the operation the injured women were left at the compound along with at least six children.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said on 3 May that US forces had full authority to kill Osama bin Laden but that they were to capture him if he had surrendered.

The White House has said that Osama Bin Laden was unarmed but resisted capture.

“Given that he was not armed, it is not clear how he resisted arrest and whether an attempt was made to capture him rather than kill him,” said Claudio Cordone. 

“Amnesty International believes that US forces should have attempted to capture Osama bin Laden alive in order to bring him to trial if he was unarmed and posing no immediate threat.”

Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for acts of terrorism amounting to crimes against humanity and has inspired others to commit similar acts.  Perpetrators of such acts must be brought to justice in a manner consistent with international law.

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