Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

WEll, its been over a year since we have had a tape from this guy, and in the meantime Afghanistan has been combed over. The Pakistanis seem to be doing a fair job of arresting members of Al Queda. Plus the Saudis have been cracking down on the money flows to these groups. I also imagine that the national intelligence services of Germany, France, Holland, etc. are working to track down as many members of this group as possible.
So is this guy dead or alive? It seems to me that he is dead; evidence of this:
-He has not been seen in any of the videotapes released
-voice prints identify someof the tapes as authentic;but these could have been made before 9/11, or made by his sons
-the reward for his remains is pretty considerable…enough to tempt the average Afghan to turn him in
Of course, he could be holed up somewhere in Pakistan (he could be in a "safe house"in Karachi.
What do you think? Are most of the top Al Queda leaders now apprehended? Or are there still enough leaders at large to be of concern? :confused:

I attended the national conference of the American Library Association in Orlando in June. Richard Clarke was a guest speaker, plugging his book, Against All Enemies (Free Press, 2004), and also talking about his experiences in the Clinton and Bush Admins. He made the point that all the arrest of the top al-Qaeda leaders had accomplished was to turn al-Qaeda into a more decentralized organization, with cells in several different countries now operating independently under their own leadership (which makes their actions even less predictable). Also, the Bush Admin’s “War on Terror” has given all those cells a big boost in recruiting. In short, this is a problem we’ll be dealing with for decades to come and catching Bin Laden wouldn’t really make a difference.

Clarke talked about a movie he’d seen (forget the title) made in the '50s, about the French government trying to put down a secessionist rebellion in their colony of Algeria. First the French authorities caught a few suspected insurgents, interrogated them thoroughly, and pieced together a picture of the leadership. They set up an organizational chart (like the FBI team’s in The Sopranos) showing the leadership structure of the insurgency. Then they started targeting the leaders on that chart, crossing off a name every time one was killed or arrested, and by the end of the movie they had got practically all of them. Mission accomplished! And then, just before the credits, a title flashes on the screen: “Two years later the French were thrown out of Algeria.” The problem being, while the police were working on decapitating the top leadership of the insurgency, a whole new set of rebels they didn’t even know about grew up right under their noses.

Not really much to debate here, more of an IMHO thing prehaps.

But, anyway, IMHO he’s in the one place where he knows the US can’t come after him and there are planty of people with an interest in him not being found - Saudi Arabia.

Either that, or he never existed in the first place. One of the two.

The movie is called The Battle of Algiers.

Old collunsbury was promoting it even prior to the invasion.

Is it pretty well documented that he needs kidney dialysis? Is there dispute over that, or is it considered proven?

Don’t be so sure:

The author of the book Imperial Hubris which is referenced in the article Earthling links discounts the idea that Bin Laden is seriously ill with kidney disease. As he was responsible for hunting Bin Laden in the 90s he probably has good reason to believe that.

It’s clear that Al Qaeda is able to replace killed and captured leader fairly efficiently, as referenced by this NY Times article.

In general, the author believes the US is too focused on taking out individual leaders, as if Al Qaeda is a mafia, rather than taking it on as a global insurgency movement not dependant on any one leader, or set of leaders.

I don’t think it’s been that long, and the area of Afghanistan where everyone thinks he is is is pretty large and hostile.

He’s been heard. US intelligence is expecting another tape from him soon, as a cue for the next attack (prior to November).

He often refers to recent events, so that’s not possible. And why would he have made all these tapes before Afghanistan was attacked?

Already covered. There are people out there who support what he does enough to ignore the money.

All the alerts we’re having these days and you’re not sure if there’s enough of them left to be a concern?

I’m generally not part of the tin foil-hat crowd, but I’ve got a hunch we’ve had him captured for some time now, just waiting for the proper pre-election time to say “Oh, look who we just captured…come see what a great job Bush has done”.

Either that, or he’s dead in mountain range somewhere. <shrug>

Beat me to it…several months ago a report that he was being held in Pakistan made the news very briefly. A military official from Pakistan claimed that OBL was being held in secret until orders came from higher up that it be revealed publicly. This report was immediately put on the back burner and quickly dispelled. It would not surprise me if the story were true. At the very least an OBL “double” could be pulled out at the last minute and paraded around a few days before the election. That’d probably clince a GOP victory. It could be determined after the election that it was or wasn’t actually OBL. Wouldn’t much matter then would it?

Unless you think that GWB and party is too honest for this sort of tactic.

No, but I don’t believe it would be enough to clinch a GOP victory. I mean, we’ve still got all those troops being killed every week in Iraq, our economy is in a “jobless recovery,” and it should be obvious that al-Qaeda will remain a threat even if Bin Laden is taken out.

If we’re thinking that somehow all will be wonderful once Bin Laden is captured, we’re in a fool’s paradise. Whatever his fate, those who followed him will follow someone else. It really doesn’t matter one way or the other whether he is captured, killed, or at large. I rather doubt that he is in US custody, it would be too hard to keep such a secret even in the military. I think it’s far likelier that the Pakistanis have him and have been promised a great reward to produce him at the opportune time to sway the presidential election.

I’d like to believe that too. But the ignorance is so widespread…besides he’s got Texas, Florida, and Caliiifirniiia pretty much in the bank. It wouldn’t take but a few undecided.
And here’s a little sump’n extra for…well you know who ya are. :wink:
It’s the new and improved version.

It’s amazing you guys can’t discuss whether or not ObL is alive without bashing Republicans or generating ludicrous theories.

I also don’t take Richard Clarke very seriously. The guy was a failure as a counterterrorism expert so any advice he has can go right into the trash as far as I’m concerned.

I think there is a general misanalysis of the problem. If you’re trying to stop a guerilla force in occupied territory, then them being decentralized makes it more difficult.

With a global terrorist organization, not so much so. The main function the high leadership of Al-Qaeda served was fundraising and coordination.

With a lot of the leadership dead, their fundraising and coordination ability has gone down dramatically.

Al-Qaeda has always been fairly decentralized, and has always been sort of an amalgamated group of independent groups, many of the people that went into the creation of Al-Qaeda had been operating independent cells for years.

The strength of Al-Qaeda has always been that they were independent functioning cells, but with a central hierarchy to help funnel money, coordination with other cells, and centralized training camps. This allowed them to pull off bigger ops, and get better trained troops.

So more autonomy and less centralization isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those cells can’t hurt us like they did on 9/11 without a lot of fund raising and support that one individual terrorist cell could NEVER attain.

The fact that AQ is splintered means it will be difficult to ever eradicate them completely, but the more splintered they are the less effective they are at being able to carry out large and flashy operations.

As far as ObL goes, if he really is on kidney dialysis the guy probably will be dead within the next few years. People don’t live long on dialysis here in the United States, let alone someone that has been moving around constantly from safe house to safe house.

I doubt he is in Saudi Arabia, because while there are elements in SA that support ObL, there are also pro-US factions that he would have to be constantly alert to avoid and it would overall just be a big risk for him.

You’re joking, right? California is solidly for Kerry, and Kerry is leading in the polls in Florida right now. That doesn’t mean a lot in the long run, but the state sure isn’t ‘in the bank’ for Bush.

That’s what I think too - that he’ll be miraculously ‘captured’ just before the election.

Yeah I wasn’t too sure about the California comment either.

I know for a fact Kerry will win in CA, I’d throw down money on it, it’s almost as certain as him winning in Mass.

Florida is harder to call because it’s moved a good bit this year, I’ll reserve judgment on it until mid October.

It’s hard to say.

We have to worry about the aliens in Area 51 where we have ObL stored killing him in a cell fight. They are probably pretty pissed about all the experiments we have been doing on them.

We also have to hope Vince Foster’s zombie doesn’t break out of there and cause an international incident.

There is no credible evidence the OBL is on dialysis or has any other serious kidney ailment. He has lived for years in rough conditions in Afghanistan nad Sudan. People have been saying he is on the verge of death for almost a decade it is wishful thinking fromt he pundits.

Well it’s not so much wishful. IIRC isn’t he about 70, lots of people live to their 80s these days but at 70+ a lot of things can just come down on you all of a sudden.

And despite the image of ObL as this wealthy international criminal leader I bet he spends a lot of his time in fairly rough conditions with subpar doctors.