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05.08.11

6 Wackiest Osama bin Laden Conspiracy Theories

Prince William and Kate Middleton got a heads up about the raid and thus postponed their honeymoon. Osama bin Laden worked for the CIA. He is not dead; no, wait—he was already dead. Josh Dzieza on six crazy theories about what really went on with the al Qaeda mastermind.

Prince William and Kate Middleton got a heads up about the raid and thus postponed their honeymoon. Osama Bin Laden worked for the CIA. He is not dead; no, wait—he was already dead. Josh Dzieza on six crazy theories about what really went on with the al Qaeda mastermind.

Al Qaeda's confirmation of Osama bin Laden's death will likely damp the conspiracy theories that flared up after the announcement of his killing, even without the release of photographs of the terrorist leader's body. A vast majority of Americans agree with President Obama's decision not to release the photos, according to a recent CBS poll, an indication that the public does not require further proof.

But theories continue to burble on fringe blogs and message boards, and given the nature of conspiracy theories, they probably won't ever disappear entirely. In fact, many of the theories are simply updates to ones that have existed since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Daily Beast rounded up some of the most popular theories—and some of the strangest.

William and Kate Tipped on bin Laden Killing

Bin Laden's death bumped the birthers out of the news—it also bumped off the royal wedding. Could there be a connection between the two huge media stories? The Daily Mail thought so, and managed to track down a professor from the University of Buckingham who said he “would not be surprised” if Prince William and Kate Middleton had been forewarned about the top secret raid on bin Laden's compound. After all, the royal couple postponed their honeymoon just before bin Laden's death was announced. The Mail even asked a palace spokesman if there was a connection. He insisted there was none.

Bin Laden Worked for the CIA

Self-styled independent journalist James Corbett called the news of bin Laden's death a “retirement party for an old CIA asset, along the lines of Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.” Like the theory that bin Laden has long been dead, it's another story from the 9/11 Truth movement that's been updated for the news of bin Laden's killing: bin Laden was always just a scapegoat for the September 11 attacks, and now that he was no longer useful, the CIA decided to tie up the loose ends. “Whether he actually did die yesterday or he's been dead for years, or whatever the case may be, this is simply discarding a war on terror bogeyman who's no longer scaring the populace,” according to Corbett. Iranian security official Javad Jahangirzadeh took a similar view, saying that bin Laden had been part of an American plot to create a violent image of Islam, and now that his work is done, he's been killed.

One wag suggests bin Laden was part of an American plot to create a violent image of Islam, and now that his work is done, he's been killed.

The CIA faked the new videos

If there was ever a question about whether photographs of bin Laden's body would convince skeptics, look no further than the response to bin Laden's home videos. In a post titled “Hoax,” a writer at libertarian Alex Jones' site, Info Wars, says the videos, which were released “in a desperate effort to bolster its crumbling official narrative,” are a bit too similar to other videos release in 2007 by a “Pentagon front group.” The Pentagon has a history of passing off old bin Laden videos as new and creating its own, the Info Wars blogger writes. Another blogger points out differences in bin Laden’s beard between the new videos and older ones, and wonders whether the videos are “the smoking gun conspiracy theorists have been looking for.” The CIA actually has faked a bin Laden video before, as the Info Wars blogger points out, though it's not one you've ever seen played on the news. The Washington Post reported last year that the CIA made a propaganda video showing a fake bin Laden sitting around a campfire “swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys.”

Osama bin Laden is not dead

Surprisingly, this seems to be the less popular of two main conspiracy theories. For obvious reasons, this version is more popular among the Taliban than in the United States. But even in the U.S., some raised doubts about whether bin Laden had really been killed. Fox Business Network host Andrew Napolitano asked guests “whether the government is telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama’s lousy presidency.” On Facebook, a little over 2,000 people somewhat ambiguously “liked” a page called “ Osama bin Laden NOT DEAD.” The posters on the wall seem to mostly think it was a ploy to get Obama reelected.

Osama bin Laden was already dead

A more palatable theory for those who want to believe both that bin Laden is dead and that the U.S. government is perpetrating a vast fraud, this one actually has been around for years. The gist of it is that bin Laden died of kidney failure or was killed by U.S. troops in Tora Bora and that his body has been frozen for a decade, held as a trump card that two different administrations have been waiting to play. Different people give different reasons for why Obama would play the card now, 17 months before the election. Some say to bolster his flagging ratings, others to distract attention from his birth certificate issue. Urging everyone to buy gold, one blogger claims bin Laden's death was faked in order to distract the public while Obama stole everyone's pensions to pay for the national debt. Iran's intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, also saying bin Laden had been dead for years, claimed that the terrorist’s killing was a hoax meant to distract people from an Islamic awakening.

No Women in the Situation Room

While not exactly a conspiracy theory, this at least qualifies as a bit of unexplained intrigue: One Hasidic Jewish newspaper appears to be boldly proposing that no women were with the president and other security chiefs in the Situation Room during the raid on bin Laden’s compound. Most people are familiar with the now-ubiquitous photograph, which rocketed to the top of flickr within days of being released, showing Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and other administration honchos in the Situation Room. Well, the Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung Photoshopped Hillary Clinton and administration official Audrey Tomason out of the photo. The paper had no comment on its photo, but many conjectured that the picture was doctored either because of editors’ concerns about immodesty or desire not to show women in positions of power.

Josh Dzieza is a reporter at The Newsweek Daily Beast company.