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A fake news story that said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had proof that terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was enjoying a taxpayer-funded lifetime vacation in the Caribbean has resurfaced after several years.
"Edward Snowden: Osama bin Laden is still alive living in the Bahamas," read the headline on a May 13, 2017, post on AntiNews.in, a repository of wild-eyed conspiracy stories. It was flagged by Facebook users as potentially fake as part of the social media website’s efforts to combat fake news.
The post said Snowden told the Moscow Tribune that instead of killing the al-Qaida leader in May 2011, the United States set him up with a cushy retirement fund through the CIA payroll. As of 2013, it said, bin Laden is living with "five of his wives and many children" collecting more than $100,000 a month via a Nassau bank account.
"Osama Bin Laden was one of the CIA’s most efficient operatives for a long time," Snowden is allegedly quoted as saying. "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."
We could find no evidence that Snowden, who leaked classified information about the federal government’s surveillance programs, has ever said such a thing about bin Laden. Snowden fled to Moscow to avoid espionage charges and has since given several interviews, but this post is fake.
Versions of the story have appeared on many other websites over the last several months. But it originated on WorldNewsDailyReport.com, a parody website we’ve identified on our list of dubious news sources, way back on Aug. 25, 2015.
The site’s disclaimer noted that "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."
The site’s stories are fabricated. As far as we can tell, the Moscow Tribune is not even a real media outlet, although there are Twitter and Facebook accounts under that name that do share news stories (the paper in Moscow, Idaho, is called the Daily News).
The version of the post on AntiNews.in also cited a Dec. 31, 2015, post on a site called NaijaPicks.com, which said it worked "to keep you informed on what's going on in Nigeria, Africa and the world over." The post also included real quotes from Snowden reported in The Guardian newspaper in 2013.
We attempted to reach AntiNews.in through its online contact form, the only available method of reaching the site, but did not receive a response.
We rate this statement Pants On Fire!
AntiNews.in, "Edward Snowden: Osama Bin Laden is Still Alive Living in the Bahamas," May 13, 2017
New Yorker, "Getting Bin Laden," Aug. 8, 2011
PolitiFact, "Group says Obama revealed secret information to Hollywood filmmakers," Aug. 20, 2012
The Guardian, "Edward Snowden, NSA files source: 'If they want to get you, in time they will'," June 10, 2013
New York Times, "What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death?," Oct. 15, 2015
WorldNewsDailyReport.com, "Bin Laden is ‘alive and well in the Bahamas,’ says Edward Snowden," Aug. 25, 2015
NaijaPicks.com, "Osama Bin Laden Is Still Alive – Edward Snowden," Dec. 31, 2015
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