Why can't we find Osama?

I just really have no idea about the area, his army, or how he’s eluding us. I don’t watch that much CNN. Is he just that much ahead of us? If you guys could please fill me in, and recap where we are in the whole ‘War on Terror’ thing, it might help a lot of us world-events-retards.

Why can’t we catch all of the guy who bombed the clinic back east a few years ago? We probably can’t catch bin Laden for the same reason: There are people who believe in his cause and are willing to hide him. Of course he could be dead; blown to bits or vapourized by a large bomb. There are intelligence/counter-intelligence advantages to keeping him “alive”. Either he’s dead and the terrorists aren’t telling us, or he’s alive and he’s being helped by his supporters.

To us, Osama is the devil incarnate. To others, he is a holy man.

Armies are good at killing/capturing large numbers of people, and at achieving major territorial objectives, but they’re simply not designed nor trained to find individuals. They work en masse, not on the individual level. Asking an army to find one individual is an extremely difficult task, especially when, as Johnny notes, other people are willing to help a particular individual escape.

And if he’s alive, nobody knows where he is. His army (such that it was an army) is dispersed in small groups throughout the world. OBL himself might still be in Afghanistan, which is huge, inhospitable and moutainous, but he might also be in Northern or Western Pakistan, which is also huge and mountainous and not able to be policed by the Pakistan authorities, let alone the US; some rumours have even put him in Kashmir in India, which is equally huge and mountainous.

My advice: start watching the news; you’ll appreciate it.

I originally typed “all of the fugitives in this country”, then changed it to the specific example. I’d assume if we caught the clinic bomber, that we’d catch all of him that there is.

I presume that most people would settle for just the head…

Yeah, but look at the sort of trouble that gave Warren Oates.

What amazes me is that not one single person has been tempted by the reward money and turned him in. Surely there must be people in his vicinity who know he is there. Many, many people, I would have to think. I could understand that most of these people are his supporters but that not one single person would turn his coat is amazing. Palestinians who collaborate with the Israelis face a very high risk of lynching or execution, and get paid far less than $25M, but yet there seems to be no shortage of them.

I suppose I have something to add in addition to the above flippant remark.

Finding Osama is not nearly as important as removing al-Qaeda’s ability to command and control its followers.

Press releases indicate that the United States and its many friends are monitoring radio and telephone communications. Occasionally we hear a familiar voice, and when we do we go after it.

That’s about the best way we can do it, since the people whom we seek are sticking to rough country peopled by many who are sympathetic to al-Q’s cause. The end result is that (hopefully) we’re keeping al-Q leadership constantly on the run, and (hopefully) only in indirect control of their worldwide network of sleepers who are (hopefully) sitting around with their thumbs up their asses waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

If we actually catch or kill any of these guys, that’s great, but I think the larger mission objective here is to keep this terrorist organization far more concerned with protecting their own hides rather than whipping someone else’s.

If you were bin Laden, you’d send a video tape of yourself out to the big wide world in order to irritate the US, wouldn’t you? Since it hasn’t happened, I would suggest we can assume he is spread out in little pieces on some mountainside in Afghanistan. And good riddance.

No, I wouldn’t. I’d lay low, and let us Americans think that I’m probably dead. I’d wait till our collective attention has turned to the Isreali/Palestinian mess, or some other big problem, and then start to rebuild my network without announcing this fact to the world.

Real-life terrorist masterminds are far more cunning than their movie counterparts.

I concur with Diceman. The lay-low trick paid off in spades for both Idi Amin and Abu Nidal.

Oops. Let me further elaborate. Both Amin and Nidal appear to have medical conditions which required them to retire from being assholes and live their declining years quietly. Bin Laden purportedly has a kidney condition, and will likely attempt to capitalize on rumors of his death in order to allow him to get the treatment he needs.

That doesn’t mean that bin Laden is going to retire.

The problem is, IMHO, Bush can’t use the Army. Prime political Directive of the past 20+ years ‘No body bags’ – been the motivation behind everything from ‘smart bombs’ to satellite to dropping HUMIT.

And if you don’t believe it, OBL does. He and his cohorts grew up on the Beirut experience.

The view here is you won’t find him without a considerable presence on the ground. Friends/elements in the ISI will keep him safe – anyone remember this titbit from 9 moths ago: Link

Big world, one person. The odds are not in your favor of finding that person unless someone tells you where that person is.

Me? I’m in the phone book.

Dead, Osama is a martyr around whom his supporters can rally. Alive, he can still conduct operations. If he’s dead, we don’t really have to worry about him. Let his supporters chant his name; without his money and planning, they probably won’t be able to do much. If he’s alive and causing mischief, then he risks being caught.

But if he’s alive and laying low (or is it lying low? – I can never remember) or if he’s dead and they’re not letting us know, then we have to spend resources looking for him.