Osama Blamed in Diana Conspiracy Theory

Perhaps it was inevitable that conspiracy theorists would link one of the world's most reviled men with one of its most revered women.

Since the death of Princess Diana in a high-speed car crash, there's been no shortage of speculation that this was no accident.

The official version is that driver Henri Paul was drunk when the car slammed into a wall in a Paris tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997. But Paul's parents don't believe that.

Jean and Gisele Paul recently announced they're taking legal action to obtain the sample of their son's blood that was used to determine his alcohol level. They suspect samples were somehow switched, and that the blood investigators tested wasn't really his.

Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods department store, believes Diana and his son, Dodi, were really murdered. The supposed motive: to prevent the princess from marrying an Egyptian-born Muslim and perhaps providing a future king of England with a Muslim half brother or sister.

A Popular Theory in Middle East

This theory has gained a lot of support in the Middle East and among Muslims, though versions vary as to whether it was the royal family or British intelligence who supposedly arranged the hit.

No one has ever explained satisfactorily why "they" would be concerned about the possibility of the princess marrying Dodi Fayed, but have taken no action during her much longer involvement with Hasnat Khan, a heart surgeon from Pakistan.

"I think what you would get from these people [who believe Diana was murdered] is that it was a constant concern, that she continued to stick with these Muslim playboys," said Gregory Payne, a professor of political communication at Emerson College in Boston.

But ever since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, a new theory has been gaining currency — and this one involves a Muslim who's anything but a playboy.

"Sometime after 9/11, they actually tied Osama bin Laden and Diana together," said Payne. "They were arguing that Osama bin Laden could be involved in the assassination of Princess Diana."

Why would the leader of the al Qaeda terror network be after the ex-wife of the heir to the British throne?

"He was so concerned that Muslim women were identifying with her," explained Payne. "And if she were to marry Dodi or another Muslim, that would give her more of an entrée."

Payne himself doesn't give any credence to these theories, but he says there are plenty of people who do — or who are latching other to other "clues" that make them suspicious.

"There are so many varieties of questions and intrigues," he said.