The death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 gave rise to various conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and rumors. These include the ideas that bin Laden had been dead for years, or is still alive. Doubts about bin Laden's death were fueled by the U.S. military's supposed disposal of his body at sea, the decision to not release any photographic or DNA evidence of bin Laden's death to the public, the contradicting accounts of the incident (with the official story on the raid appearing to change or directly contradict previous assertions), and the 25-minute blackout during the raid on bin Laden's compound during which a live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the U.S. special forces was cut off.
Within hours, an image purporting to show a dead bin Laden was broadcast on Pakistani television. Although the story was picked up by much of the British press, as well the Associated Press, it was swiftly removed from websites after it was exposed as a fake on Twitter.
On May 4, the Obama administration announced it would not release any images of Bin Laden's dead body. The administration said it had considered releasing the photos to dispel rumors of a hoax, at the risks of perhaps prompting another attack by al Qaeda and of releasing very graphic images to people who might find them disturbing. Several photos of the aftermath of the raid were given to Reuters by an anonymous Pakistani security official, but though all appeared to be authentic, they were taken after the U.S. forces had left and none of them included evidence regarding bin Laden's fate.
On May 6, it was reported that an al-Qaeda website acknowledged bin Laden's death. On May 11, Republican senator and Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe stated he had viewed "gruesome" photographs of bin Laden's corpse, and later confirmed that the body "was him", adding, "He's history".
On May 21, 2015, journalist Seymour Hersh published a report claiming that Pakistan had kept bin Laden under house arrest since 2006, that the U.S. had learned of bin Laden's location through a Pakistani intelligence official and not through tracking a courier, and that elements of the Pakistani military aided the U.S. in killing bin Laden. The White House denied Hersh's report.
- 1 Lack of physical evidence