Verbs of Deduction: The Obama Osama Conspiracy Drama

Conspiracy theory – noun: the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public. One wedding and a sea funeral would probably best describe the bank holiday weekend. After the spectacular royal wedding, the death of the world’s most wanted man was something that must have come as a shock to people. Certainly for my mother, who had to call and tell me that Obama was dead. In turn, I had to politely correct her that it was Osama Bin Laden, not Barack Obama who died!

What happened?

The official story was that Bin Laden died by being shot in the head by American troops in Pakistan and that his wife also died because he was using her as a human shield. Finally, once he was dead, he was quickly thrown into the sea. Since then, it wasn’t his wife who died, but his son – his wife was just injured in the leg.

Conspiracy theories

Naturally, people want proof that Bin Laden’s dead, but so far no photographs have been released, or any substantial evidence even though the US say that they have his DNA. So what would be the reason? Conspiracy theories are common in major events in history, from the moon landing in 1969 to Princess Diana’s death in 1997. The changing story of how Bin Laden was killed must be adding more reasons for conspiracy theorists as to why his death isn’t as straight-forward as it seems.

Here are 5 conspiracy theories about Bin Laden’s sudden death:

  1. He can’t be dead Simple really – there’s no evidence of the body. Well, not yet.
  2. He could have died years ago He’s been dead for many years but the USA wanted to continue their hunt for him to justify their war on terror.
  3. He might have been killed to help re-elect president Obama With the presidential elections coming up soon, Barack Obama wanted this event to help him get re-elected as President. The public would be happy that the man responsible for 9/11 was dead and would see Obama as a hero.
  4. He might not be dead (again) – The US just want to end their war in Afghanistan Another theory is that the US might want to end their 10-year war in Afghanistan and this could mean that they can start withdrawing troops out of there.
  5. He may have been killed during the time of the Royal wedding There is an even stranger story that he might have even been killed last week but the announcement of it was delayed so that it wouldn’t spoil the Royal wedding!


Whatever you think – that he might still be alive or he could be dead – for whatever reason it will always be a big talking point. Even if photos are released of a dead Osama Bin Laden, will that stop conspiracy theorists thinking what must, might or can’t have really happened? I doubt it, but it may be interesting just to think about the possibilities.

Modal verbs: deduction in the present and past

When we believe something is true, we use must. When we believe something is possibly true, we use could, might or may. When we believe something isn’t true, we use can’t.


Modal verb + infinitive “He can’t be dead” To make deductions about something happening right now: Modal verb + be + verb-ing “It must be adding more reasons”


About a state or completed action in the past: Modal verb + have + past participle “He could have died”

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