Origins: Scant hours after news of the death of Osama bin Laden was delivered by President Obama on 1 May 2011, reports followed that
the terrorist leader had been buried at sea. Bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by U.S. forces, had been living in a guarded compound in Abbottabad, 30 miles north-east of Islamabad, Pakistan. His body was taken from that location to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the northern part of the Arabian Sea and buried at sea at around 1 a.m. EDT on 2 May 2011.
A Pentagon official said "traditional procedures for Islamic burials" were used. The body was washed and placed in a white sheet on a flat board as a U.S. military chaplain read remarks that were translated into Arabic. Then the board was lifted up, the official said, and the "deceased body eased into the sea." The funeral was conducted on the ship's hangar deck, not the flight deck, which is at the waterline.
As to why this type of final resting place was chosen, said an unnamed U.S. official, "Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world's most wanted terrorist would have been difficult."
Less openly voiced was a further reason — burial at sea keeps bin Laden's final resting spot from becoming a shrine to aspiring terrorists.
Sea burial also precludes desecration of the grave by either souvenir seekers or those looking to visit indignities upon the person interred there.
DNA samples were taken from the body prior to burial, and U.S. officials appear to have no doubts as to the identity of the man so buried.