After the 40-minute firefight that left Osama bin Laden dead from two bullets to the head, his body was whisked away via helicopter to the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea, officials said.
Aboard the aircraft carrier, his body was washed and wrapped in white sheets by a Muslim seaman and received religious rites, all with adherence to Islamic law so as not to offend the Muslim world, authorities said.
DNA testing and photos were taken before his remains were placed in a weighted body bag and lowered into the sea. There are conflicting stories as to whether these tests were done in Afghanistan before his corpse was transported to the ship.
According to Islamic law, bodies must be buried within 24 hours and sea burials are only allowed in exceptional circumstances, such as death on a ship. Many Muslim leaders contend that bin Laden should have been buried on land and that the sea burial could incite retaliation.
The procedure "contradicts all the religious values and human norms," said Ahmed El-Tayeb, leader of Egypt's seat of Sunni Muslim learning al-Azhar. "It is forbidden in Islam to deform the dead … One honors the dead by burying them."
Bin Laden was buried at sea to avoid creating a shrine for radicals, official said, adding that the U.S. couldn't find a country willing to accept his body. They stressed that that all Islamic burial procedures were followed.
DNA tests, photo identification and other methods confirmed that the corpse was bin Laden. The Associated Press reported that the White House is planning to release a video of the sea burial soon, possibly along with photos of bin Laden’s body.
Officials said releasing the photos may help silence critics and prove that bin Laden is dead, but the photos are disturbing.