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It looked a bit strange to us when we first saw the composite image and indeed it turns out to be a fake. This from the msnbc.com PHOTOblog:

An image circulating on the Internet and displayed on some television news programs abroad purports to show Osama bin Laden’s bloody corpse. No U.S. or Pakistani officials have confirmed its authenticity, and two U.S. officials have warned NBC News that the image is a hoax.

Based on an initial look into the image file, we agree, and think it’s a fake. At first glance, the pixelation around the “wound” area and the odd lack of transition between different colored cloth and flesh indicate that the image has been manipulated.

Furthermore, the facial expression and beard are very reminiscent of a 1998 image of bin Laden, the first picture shown below. Next to it, we show the original resolution of the “corpse” image as we’ve seen it (197 by 263 pixels), “flopped” 180 degrees on the horizontal axis to conform to the original 1998 image’s beard orientation. The third image is a blended image of the two, with the “corpse” image at 100 percent opacity below the original image at 43 percent opacity. The way the images “lock” in place at the mouth, beard and nose indicate to us that the image circulating on the Web and some foreign television outlets is nothing but a clumsy fake.

-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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