Skip to comments.What's Become Of Bin Laden Since He Gave Us All The Slip?
Posted on 10/31/2005 5:41:42 PM PST by blam
What's become of bin Laden since he gave us all the slip?
By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
Some think he is dead, others that he is hiding because he is scared of being killed.
Whatever the reason for the strange disappearance of Osama bin Laden, not seen alive since his last mocking video statement a year ago, he is no longer the face of the global "jihad" against the West.
The face of al-Qa'eda: Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian responsible for some of the worst atrocities in Iraq, has become the hero of the hour on militant Islamist websites.
Western intelligence sources believe that he now receives most of the donations and recruits for the "jihad" against America and its allies. And they fear that he is already planning to expand his attacks to the Arab world and Europe.
"Zarqawi is the world's number one terrorist. There is every indication that he thinks he has outgrown Iraq," said one western source familiar with intelligence reports. "It is bound to happen sooner or later."
And while bin Laden performs his vanishing act, his "deputy", Ayman al-Zawahiri, also performs ever more frequently as al-Qa'eda's chief television propagandist.
The Egyptian doctor, regarded by many as the real ideological force of al-Qa'eda, has made at least six video and audio broadcasts this year - discussing everything from Iraq's elections, the London bombings and, most recently, the Kashmir earthquake.
This has puzzled the professional al-Qa'eda watchers. "There are three main theories," said one western security source.
"Perhaps bin Laden is acting as president, who only speaks on big 'state' occasions, while Zawahiri is the prime minister who deals with day-to-day business.
"Perhaps bin Laden is alive, but too ill to show on television without demoralising his supporters.
"Or perhaps he is dead. But this is unlikely - if he had died we would have heard about it."
Bin Laden was last seen alive in a video recording addressed to the American people ahead of last November's presidential election.
Then he taunted President George W Bush, saying: "It was easy for us to provoke this administration and pour it into perdition." He also boasted of "the success of our plan to bleed America to the point of bankruptcy".
A letter in the name of bin Laden did appear on the internet last December, urging Arabs to overthrow "apostate" Arab rulers.
Bin Laden has previously been out of public view for months at a time. But speculation about his fate is once again swirling.
One senior Arab intelligence source argued months ago that bin Laden was probably dead. A Pakistani newspaper reported recently that bin Laden had died last summer and was buried in the Afghan city of Kandahar.
An Indian paper claimed that he might have died in the Kashmir earthquake.
At the weekend Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, attributed bin Laden's low profile to his fears for his safety as American and Pakistani forces hunt down al-Qa'eda members.
"Osama bin Laden hasn't been seen in a video for a hellishly long time," Mr Rumsfeld said in Berlin. "That could be because he's become shy - but wasn't before."
Whether or not bin Laden is dead, his network has been permanently changed. "There is no al-Qa'eda," argues one western security source. "It is now an ideology rather than an organisation."
By this analysis, members of the old Afghan-based "core" of leaders around bin Laden and Zawahiri have been killed, captured or scattered to the point where they find it difficult to mount a major attack on the West.
Instead they focus on spreading the ideology that inspires others to carry out attacks from Bali to Baghdad.
"Think of it as a McDonald's franchise," said the security source. "Bin Laden and Zawahiri own the copyright to the golden arches, but Zarqawi is the one selling the hamburgers - and very successfully."
The shift is most visible from a recent letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi, intercepted by the US and released to the public. If genuine, the al-Qa'eda franchise-owners are both awed and appalled by the Zarqawi product.
Zawahiri pleaded for money, bemoaned the danger posed by the Pakistani army and gave the impression of being partly cut off from events.
However, he knew enough about Iraq to rebuke Zarqawi for the wholesale murder of Shias and the grisly beheadings of hostages broadcast on the internet.
Such actions were not acceptable to the "masses", he said, and their support was essential if the militants were to achieve the dream of restoring the Islamic Caliphate.
Recalling that he personally "tasted the bitterness of American brutality" when his wives and children were killed in a US bomb attack in Afghanistan, Zawahiri argued: "Despite all of this, I say to you: we are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media."
Denied a physical base in Afghanistan, al-Qa'eda now uses the internet as a virtual base from which to proselytise and provide training.
The problem for western counter-terrorist officials is that regardless of what happens to bin Laden, Zawahiri or Zarqawi, it may now be impossible to eradicate their ideology.
"The virus of al-Qa'eda is already out there in the population," said one security source.
Or, as bin Laden once put it:"This will be nothing to do with the poor slave bin Laden, whether dead or alive. With God's grace, the awakening has begun."
He's dead, Jim.
Ghost-writing for Teddy and Biden?
I saw him sweeping the driveway over at the Eaker Compound.
"Whatever the reason for the strange disappearance of Osama bin Laden, not seen alive since his last mocking video statement a year ago, he is no longer the face of the global "jihad" against the West."
the Bush administration made the point early on that capturing Bin Laudin and Saddam were goals but it isn't about any one person- it's about the war.
Wrong. He is very much alive and very much being hunted daily by brave warriors who are risking their lives in unknown locations deep in Indian country on missions you will never hear about (unless something goes wrong).
But just as Zarqawi, Mullah Omar and Zawahiri are alive. So is UBL. But we will get him one of these days. He is going to zig and our shooters are going zag...and we'll bag him.
Could be dead?
"not seen alive since his last mocking video statement a year ago"
You mean the one where he stumped for Kerry the Friday before the election? The one the MSM glossed over?
Slip my arse. He's dead. And he had to pay shipping and handling too.
'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This terrorist is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-TERRORIST!!
I am absolutely shocked, SHOCKED - that you don't believe the latest news from Pakistan that he died months ago - to think you believe a Muslim Nation would lie to us - how racist! /sarcasm ON
Yep...he's feedin the worms.
He's Elvis's pool cleaner.
he was neutered by the crocodile hunter
Have we even heard a so-called audio tape from him recently?
'e says 'e's feelin much betta! Wants to go fer a walk, 'e does!
No he is not..
When do ya come 'round again?
I heard he can be seen from time to time lounging on the beach somewhere in Southern California, sucking limes and sippin' on some Jose Cuervo...
He is alive and doesn't fear death at all. However, he's petrified of being captured and photographed with woman's panties on his head instead of that towel.
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