DNA Fingerprinting Is Used by United States to Confirm Slain Body Is Osama bin Laden

by Dr Sam Girgis on May 2, 2011

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material contained in the nucleus of cells which is passed on from parents to children.  It serves as the blueprint for life and encodes information in the form of genes which determines things such as the type of enzymes your cells produce to the color of your eyes to the subtle details of your personality.  DNA comes in the form of a double helix and is composed of either purine (adenine and guanine) or pyrimidine (thymine and cytosine) nucleotides.  DNA sequencing involves deciphering the order of the nucleotides of particular genes in a species.  DNA fingerprinting is a technique that uses DNA that is extracted from people and then cut up into pieces which are then compared to a reference sample.  The United States military scientists used DNA fingerprinting technology to confirm that the slain body that was taken into custody by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan on May 1, 2011 was indeed that of Al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden.  Researchers at the University of Arizona recently developed a machine that shortened the time needed to perform the analysis from 2 weeks to only 2 hours.  It is thought that this technology allowed President Obama to state that he was 99.9% sure that the slain body was that of Osama bin Laden.  In the case of Osama bin Laden, the United States government did not have a DNA sample from him to compare as a reference.  The United States government did have DNA samples from Osama bin Laden’s sister, who died of brain cancer a few years ago in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Because siblings have similar but not identical sequences of DNA which is passed on from their common parents, the United States was able to compare their DNA using DNA fingerprinting technology and affirmatively identify Osama bin Laden.  Other methods were also used to identify the slain body as that of Osama bin Laden and included facial recognition techniques as well as identification by persons at the scene.  The New York City Office of the Medical Examiner used similar DNA fingerprinting technology to successfully identify victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.  It is also used at crime scenes to help in the identification and conviction of criminals.  DNA fingerprinting technology is very highly accurate and the chance that a false positive result could occur is extremely small.  There is a miniscule chance that the results could be inaccurate, which will give fuel to the people who are likely to start postulating conspiracy theories.

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