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What's Become Of Bin Laden Since He Gave Us All The Slip?
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 11-1-2005 | Anton La Guardia

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
(Filed: 01/11/2005)

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."

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; becomebinladensince; binladen; elvisbinladin; elvissightings; gave; ghostofbinladin; globaljihad; manhunt; obl; rop; slip; ubl; us; whats; wot
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To: blam

Fish and newspaper come to mind.

21 posted on 10/31/2005 5:59:17 PM PST by Lancer_N3502A
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To: blam
The shift is most visible from a recent letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi

This is getting confusing... so who's on first?

Does Zorro fit in here somewhere?

22 posted on 10/31/2005 6:02:25 PM PST by CommandoFrank (Peer into the depths of hell and there you will find the face of Islam...)
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To: blam

you want to find out if bin Laden is still alive?
Kill his kids ......

that'll bring the rat out of the woodpile

23 posted on 10/31/2005 6:03:21 PM PST by injin
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To: b4its2late
Slip my arse. He's dead. And he had to pay shipping and handling too.

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.


24 posted on 10/31/2005 6:12:50 PM PST by M Kehoe
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To: injin

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.

25 posted on 10/31/2005 6:13:30 PM PST by jackson29
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To: blam

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.

26 posted on 10/31/2005 6:22:47 PM PST by bilhosty
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To: jackson29

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.

27 posted on 10/31/2005 6:32:27 PM PST by injin
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To: blam
As it is with all good jihadists, Binny is probably sleeping with his 92 (or 72 or 69 or whatever that magic number is) virgins eating a pomegranate and sucking on an RC Cola.....
28 posted on 10/31/2005 6:37:21 PM PST by eeriegeno
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To: blam
Task Force 121 is a mix of Army Delta Force soldiers and Navy SEALs, transported on helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The SEALs and soldiers are based at Joint Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Answer the question?

A nightmare of Terminator dimensions.

29 posted on 10/31/2005 6:38:11 PM PST by mad_as_he$$ (Never corner anything meaner than you. NSDQ)
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To: stboz

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.

30 posted on 10/31/2005 6:41:20 PM PST by Andrew_Kalionzes (Anti-Liberal)
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To: headsonpikes

Another fan.

31 posted on 10/31/2005 6:55:17 PM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: stboz

'e's not painin'
'e's bloomin' demised!

32 posted on 10/31/2005 6:57:23 PM PST by Poser (Willing to fight for oil)
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To: Andrew_Kalionzes

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

33 posted on 10/31/2005 7:19:28 PM PST by jackson29
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To: blam
What's Become Of Bin Laden Since He Gave Us All The Slip?

-----If he is dead, then nothing. If he isn't ,then he probably will be soon from some funky disease unless somebody teaches him that animals are for pets and to eat , NOT have sex with.
34 posted on 10/31/2005 7:41:18 PM PST by WasDougsLamb (Just my opinion.Go easy on me........)
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To: Poser

I say we should repress the stinkin' bastard! Use the repression inherent in the system!

35 posted on 10/31/2005 8:50:49 PM PST by stboz
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