Fact Check

Edward Snowden Said Osama bin Laden is Alive

Edward Snowden did not claim Osama bin Laden was alive and living lavishly in the Bahamas on the CIA's payroll.

Published May 10, 2016

Edward Snowden claimed Osama bin Laden was alive in the Bahamas, funded by the CIA.

On 10 May 2016, several Facebook pages cited a 25 August 2015 article from fake news site World News Daily Report, claiming that National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed Osama bin Laden was living in luxury in the Bahamas (courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency):

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, has made a new controversial claim yesterday, saying that he possessed some classified information proving that Osama Bin Laden is still alive ... According to [Snowden], not only is Bin Laden still alive, but he is living a lavish lifestyle in the Bahamas, thanks to regular payments from the CIA.

“I have documents showing that Bin Laden is still on the CIA’s payroll,” claims Edward Snowden. “He is still receiving more than $100,000 a month, which are being transferred through some front businesses and organizations, directly to his Nassau bank account. I am not certain where he is now, but in 2013, he was living quietly in his villa with five of his wives and many children.”

Mr. Snowden says the CIA orchestrated the fake death of the former leader of Al Qaeda, while he was actually transported with his family in an undisclosed location in the Bahamas.

“Osama Bin Laden was one of the CIA’s most efficient operatives for a long time,” claims the famous whistleblower. “What kind of message would it send their other operatives if they were to let the SEALs kill him? They organized his fake death with the collaboration of the Pakistani Secret services, and he simply abandoned his cover. Since everyone believes he is dead, nobody’s looking for him, so it was pretty easy to disappear. Without the beard and the military jacket, nobody recognizes him.”

It wasn't clear why a months-old article suddenly became popular on 10 May 2016, but at least two web sites published articles that day based on the fallacious claim.

World News Daily Report exclusively publishes outlandish, fabricated claims (typically alongside unrelated photographs) in order to drum up traffic through social media sharing, and is responsible for a number of widespread hoaxes. The site's disclaimer openly noted that none of its content is reliable:

WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website — even those based on real people — are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

Previous World News Daily Report fabrications included claims that a baby was born with stigmata in the Philippines, a lottery winner died after gold-plating his genitalia, a 14-year-old virgin was impregnated solely due to a flu shot, a slaughterhouse employee murdered dozens of coworkers for twenty years without anyone noticing, a donor heart recipient received an organ from an condemned serial killer and subsequently went on a killing spree, a man's genitals were chewed off during the attempted sexual assault of a pit bull, a meth-addled babysitter ate a toddler while high, and a group of "minutemen" busted two CIA agents trafficking cocaine across the Mexican border.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.