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."
Fish and newspaper come to mind.
This is getting confusing... so who's on first?
Does Zorro fit in here somewhere?
you want to find out if bin Laden is still alive?
Kill his kids ......
that'll bring the rat out of the woodpile
LOL! Plus a great segway into your tag line.
I hope the bastard doesn't die until we get our hands on him. Then after the trial, sentencing, etc., I would recommend his head be put upon a pike at Ground Zero. Heck, even though our tax dollars bagged him, I'd still pay admission to see that.
thats gotta be the best bait....
do it ala al jazeera,
ala islamofacist richard pearl style
that'll suck the rat out.
My guess is the troops are VERY close ~ thus the he is dead propaganda and they want to redirect the heat.
He is doing everything he can to keep from becoming a martyr. Funny how its just the other people who become martyrs, and the great proponents of martyrdom grow old and die in bed.
we all have heard that they are in Iran .
I say we send a B-2 message to their compound in the middle of some dark dark night.
Answer the question?
A nightmare of Terminator dimensions.
I highly doubt he is dead. I think he is alive, yet not necessarily well in the northern portion of Pakistan. I also have a feeling that he will most likely be nabbed sometime next year. Or perhaps in 2008 before the elections.
Conspiracy? Nah. Act of god? Perhaps.
'e's not painin'
'e's bloomin' demised!
I like that!
Bush can probably secure the election by pulling the hat out of the rabbit trick
all things staing roughly the same as today
More likely than not, thats the jig
I say we should repress the stinkin' bastard! Use the repression inherent in the system!
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