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Is Osama back in control?

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  • Is Osama back in control?

    The million dollar question (actually, the 25 million dollar question...) is whether terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is alive. If he is, is he back in control of al Qaeda?

    LONDON (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden is firmly back in command of al Qaeda and the group is digging in for guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan ( news - web sites), an Arab journalist with close ties to the militant's associates said on Tuesday.

    Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said al Qaeda associates recently told him the network had regained confidence after facing intense U.S. bombing and was ready to fight U.S. troops over the long haul.

    "Al Qaeda were shattered during the U.S. bombing so it was difficult for bin Laden to stay in control. Now they said he is fully in command again and they have regrouped and are organized again," Atwan told Reuters.

    We did it once, we'll do it again...

    "Al Qaeda people say they are relaxed now and they will fight a war of attrition against U.S. soldiers," added Atwan, who interviewed bin Laden in 1996 and keeps in contact with his associates and followers.

    Bin Laden was in good health and "safe" and was planning new attacks on the United States, he was told, but his whereabouts were not disclosed.

    If true, this is good news. He can't stay hidden and attack at the same time.

    The United States launched strikes on Afghanistan last year to flush out al Qaeda and hunt down bin Laden, its prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and punish the Taliban regime that protected him.

    But remnants of al Qaeda and their Taliban allies have continually frustrated the U.S.-led coalition by hiding in mountains, melting into the local population or fleeing into neighboring Pakistan or Iran.

    Atwan said that the al Qaeda and Taliban had re-established links that were severed when the United States began its military campaign in Afghanistan.

    "They are working together again. They are organizing," he said.

    There is no trail, meanwhile, leading to bin Laden.

    Bin Laden's associates told Atwan that the Saudi-born militant was well, "safe" and planning new attacks on the United States. They did not say where bin Laden was currently living.

    "My sense is that he will time any new attack to coincide with a U.S. attack on Iraq. He would want to capitalize on this to appeal to the Arab street so he will probably delay any attacks until the United States moves on Iraq," said Atwan.

    "He will probably want to be seen as the only Arab standing up to the United States when the United States attacks Iraq."

    Bin Laden made a series of defiant videotapes broadcast on television as U.S. warplanes pounded Afghanistan. But he has recently stayed out of sight.

    His associates said Bin Laden, who has a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, was well protected but his entourage was small in order to avoid capture, said Atwan.

    "He is the master of disguise and he is making sure that he is not giving anything away so he travels in a small group," he said.

    Bin Laden's top aide Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian-born chief strategist of al Qaeda, was with him along with a small group of militant bodyguards, Atwan was told.

    This brings up some interesting questions. If Osama bin Laden is alive and taking such extreme precautions to avoid capture, why give away that information now? This could be nothing more than a deception on the part of bin Laden's former aids who have no more idea of where he is than we do.

    The conventional wisdom seems to be that if Osama doesn't resurface shortly after September 11th 2003, then is probably is dead.

  • #2
    No Way!!!


    I don't know if he's alive or dead, but I do know a few things.

    He hasn't appeared in public making videotaped announcements, and we all know that he is deep in his heart a person who craves public attention.

    If he can control his ego, and make some smart moves, then it's unlikely we'll ever find him, unless he has a death wish.

    I suspect that the USA is going to use its experience in capturing the world's most powerful and dangerous drug king, Escabor Pablo and killing him in December 1993. If there's any similiarity, then this is it. The USA spent hundreds of million dollars, literally, on Pablo, chasing all over the map of Colombia to find him and assassinate him.

    The USA used its elite communications squad with Colombia's elite police squad to go after Pablo. One of its weapons was a group named Los Pepes (I think). The USA had nothing do with it, but this group ruthlessly murdered any associate, either imagined or real, with Pablo, thus undermining his infrastructure, and in end bringing down Pablo.

    Another ruthless weapon is using Pablo's family as a bait to force Pablo to communicate and spend his dwindling resources on finding and securing his family's safety. Though Pablo's oldest son is suspected of having been involved with murders and drug deals, rest of his family had nothing do with Pablo's violent and criminal empire.

    I think the USA should pursue extreme measures in destroying Omasa bin Laden's infrastructure and using his family as a bait.

    Nevertheless, here is my real opinion:

    I prefer Omasa bin Laden to be dead, at least, an invisible martyr rather than a visible one. If he was ever brought to court, then he would use court as a platform for his martyrdom, and I don't want it, not ever.
    Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

    "Aim small, miss small."


    • #3

      ASADABAD, Afghanistan After months of frustration, American commanders appear to have concluded that Osama bin Laden is probably still alive and moving between mountain hideouts somewhere on a 250-mile stretch of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      The hunt for Mr. bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has proved to be as murky as the silted rivers flowing through these inhospitable mountains. Nearly a year after Sept. 11, and nearly nine months after Mr. bin Laden's associates delivered their last videotape of him discussing the attacks in New York and Washington, hard facts about the quest are elusive.

      But some American officers, speaking privately, say the assumption driving the manhunt is that the men are alive. They cite Afghan and Pakistani intelligence reports, mostly sketchy, that have spoken of Mr. bin Laden and an entourage of several dozen moving more than once since the American bombing of the Tora Bora mountains late last year.

      Some of those reports, the officers say, have suggested that the fugitives may have moved through the mountains on horseback, probably on cloudy nights to elude aerial surveillance. The region being searched covers four provinces Kunar, Nangahar, Paktika and Paktia and the adjoining Pakistani tribal areas.

      At the time of the biggest American ground battle of the war at the Shah-i-Kot Valley, 100 miles southwest of Kabul, in March American commanders said Qaeda and Taliban fighters, who resisted American troops for 11 days, might be protecting Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahiri.

      But after the battle, no trace of the Qaeda leaders was found. United States military spokesmen said some Qaeda men appeared to have slipped through mountain passes toward Pakistan.

      A spokesman for the American command, Lt. Col. Roger King, said Special Forces units deployed to bases like the one at Asadabad were working on the assumption that applying pressure on any possible hideout was the best means of exposing their quarry. "I'd say it's a reasonable conclusion that we feel that if bin Laden is alive, we're providing enough pressure to make sure he keeps moving," Colonel King said. "It's easier to spot a moving target."

      The Special Forces units leading the hunt move by helicopter or in camouflaged Humvee jeeps, often followed by clusters of helmeted soldiers clutching assault rifles.

      Operating deep in tribal areas where suspicions of outsiders run high, the soldiers show an edginess that hints at the hazards and the importance of their mission. Twice in August, the Americans opened fire on Afghans in the Asadabad area, killing five men. On one occasion, the Americans acted after a man in a passing vehicle appeared to be aiming his rifle at them.

      Tick toc...tick toc...tick toc...

      It appears that time is not a luxury that Mr. Osama bin Laden has in great supply.

      Nevertheless, here is my real opinion:

      I prefer Omasa bin Laden to be dead, at least, an invisible martyr rather than a visible one. If he was ever brought to court, then he would use court as a platform for his martyrdom, and I don't want it, not ever.
      I understand the sentiment, but I'm not sure this is the right way to go. The attack on September 11th wasn't an attack on the United States only. Many hundreds of Britains, Japanese, Koreans, and other citizens died in this cowardly act. The attack was an attack on civilization as a whole. In addition to killing thousands of people it destabilized the world's economies, sowed fear and doubt in the hearts of freedom loving people around the world, and set the wheels in motion for the fall of at least one government. The international community has responded in a variety of ways and I believe if Bin Laden is captured he must be held accountable by an international tribunal.

      After WWII Herman Goering was still a powerful and feared figure. The Allied powers could have simply executed him for their own reasons, but they decided that if the victory in WWII was to mean anything then the rule of law should prevail. At the time many people objected to giving Goering a forum where he could defend himself and speak openly. As one of the world's most hated mass murderers, there was a real fear that Goering could use the court as a forum to wreck further havoc. Many felt that Goering had no right to a legal defense and a fair trial as he had certainly never extended such to any of his victims.

      Cooler heads prevailed and Goering was given a legal defense, a fair trial, and a chance to defend himself in his own words. rather than creating the hysteria that was feared, Goering condemned himself with each sentence he spoke. His transparent lies, and utter lack of empathy for the suffering that his regime had inflicted, caused many people to reflect on the war in a way they might not have prior to the trial. By his own admissions Goering signed his own death warrant and for all time erased any doubt of his true intentions and guilt. Although he was defiant to the end, Goering at last stood before the court and was pronounced guilty of crimes - not against America, Britain, or the USSR, but crimes against humanity itself. He could offer no justification or excuse for these crimes and was sentenced to death.

      I believe the same should be done with Osama bin Laden if he is captured. He should not be tried by a secret tribunal or American court. He should stand trial before an international tribunal. When found guilty this would send a signal to the entire world that such heinous and murderous acts will not be tolerated anywhere. Such a trial might not change the minds of many militant Muslims, but the failure to do so will certainly undermine the credibility of the case against him.

      The world must stand up as one and say, "this will not stand."


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