Could you pass bin Laden to the left please?

May 6, 2010

osamaWhatever Osama bin Laden once aspired to, it was not to be passed around the table like a bottle of port  in the British Raj nor worse, handed on quickly  in a child’s game of Pass the Parcel. Yet that is the fate which for now appears to be chasing him.

For years, the default assumption has been that bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last month, I heard a Pakistani official say that bin Laden was last heard of in Pakistan’s traditional enemy India in 2003 – in Bangalore and Hyderabad to be precise -before he disappeared without trace.  Then Fox News came up with a story about how he was living in luxury in Iran. Not to be outdone, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad then suggested he was more likely to be hiding in Washington.

Anyone want to guess where bin Laden is reported to be next?  He definitely seems to be acquiring the taint of the unwelcome guest.

That said, and to be briefly serious, you can draw two tentative conclusions.  Either you say that the man identified with the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington is no longer the icon and threat he once was. Or you say that the man himself was never the real threat, but rather a symbol of the cause (itself subject to much debate) which both preceded bin Laden and will also outlive him.

Either way, how many people out there still believe that taking out bin Laden would change things on the ground? Probably quite a few – but how many compared to those who believed this immediately after 9/11? The answer to that question would tell historians quite a lot about how attitudes have changed over the past nine years.

10 comments

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Bin Ladin was a CIA asset all along.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Yes, he was important but now his disappearance has changed a lot of things. But the ideology that he preached has gone to the next level and is haunting everyone in this world.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive

[...] leading the po-faced Fox propagandists to squeal that he was “obfuscati[ng]“. Reuters have a smarter take… For years, the default assumption has been that bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the mountains [...]

Bin Laden isn’t even WANTED for 9/11 and nor is al qaeda, you can check this out for yourelf on the FBI website. Yes, he was a CIA asset, yes, the Bin Laden’s helped fund the Bush’s oil empire, and yes, the Bin Laden’s were allowed to take to the air on 9/11 whilst everything else was grounded, including the victims families who were trying desperately to get to NY.

Oh and why don’t you do some research on Bush/Bin Ladin/Carlyle Group while you’re at it?

Posted by Ghostgirl | Report as abusive

Uggh,

Look’s like the truthers are out in full force on the Reuters blogs.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

I used to think that taking out Bin Laden was a bad idea, because it would result in AQ splintering. However, from what we know of AQ, it does operate in a somewhat splintered fashion.

In this case, taking out Bin Laden will most certainly rob the jihadist movement of an icon and show them that no matter where they hide and for how long, they’ll pay for their crime.

And if anybody thinks that the US intelligence community has stopped looking for Bin Laden, they are sorely mistaken.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

@ kEiThZ

Sorry, when did “truth” become a derogatory term?

Oh for heaven’s sake, Bin Laden has almost certainly been dead for years!

Posted by Ghostgirl | Report as abusive

“Bin Ladin was a CIA asset all along.” – Umairpk.

That’s correct. And so is the ISI. And the Taliban is the asset for the ISI. I understand why these “assets” have been left alone. They need to be there for justification to place US troops in the region to clear the path for the Central Asian pipeline through Pakistan. Afghanistan has been leveled already. Now it is Pakistan’s turn. That is why the focus is turning towards Pakistan more. The CIA is doing it in a phased manner and has been tightening the screws slowly. Now Pak military has its moment of truth coming when it is forced to face its “assets” in North Waziristan. Pakis are slimy and slippery. So they might try to sneak out of this when pressed by trying to launch another Mumbai attack on India. But I hope that the CIA slowly tightens the choke hold on Pak military so squeezes out the radical elements filling up the system. With the push into Kandahar soon, heat is building up. For all you know, Shahzad might be a CIA “asset” as well. Headley was a CIA agent who could infiltrate the LeT. Though sometimes investment in these assets cause a lot of damage, I’d put up with it so long as the real villains are brought to justice. And judgment day is coming for Pak military.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

@ast month, I heard a Pakistani official say that bin Laden was last heard of in Pakistan’s traditional enemy India in 2003 – in Bangalore and Hyderabad to be precise -before he disappeared without trace. ”

Hmmm…..That explains the Bin-Laden look-alike rickshaw driver in Bangalore.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Singh, Umair, Keithz,

You guys, I keep hearing the noise about Pakistani Army elements being rogue and pursuing their own agenda.

Do you guys think guys like Gen. Kayani and his uniformed Pindi Mates are aware of who they are? Who justifies the PA funding to these rogues to operate in such secrecy? If so, why does the U.S. not produce evidence of nefarious ISI and PA activities that subvert the Afghan mission and if it did, why does the PA not comply with the US? Does the PA not realize that dirty tactics that allows killing of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan is detrimental to Pakistan’s own territorial integrity, especially if the U.S. may use that as a pre-context to take the war on terrorism into the heartland of Pakistan itself?

If it comes to it, how far is PA willing to look the otherway, while its rogue elements operate before they push the Americans to take the fight onto Pakistani soil?

If all of this is possible and true, is the Rogue elements, themselves not actually working to destablize Pakistan itself, by making the U.S. think that they have to engage the terrorists on Pakistani soil itself?

This would be dire. India will not stand by as more LeT cross the LeT to take opportunistic shots at India. At the end of the day, this would worse for Pakistani’s than Iraq was for Iraqi’s.

If such rogue ISI and PA elements operate, through their willful dirty tactics, they will actually bring civil war upon Pakistan.

PA and ISI think that the western alliance is in Afghanistan to lose, they are sorely mistaken and have hedged wrong, if that is their current business plan, hedging against its ally the U.S., it is best to change course.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Myra,
Once the US Govt. have signed the extradition treaty with the new Taliban Govt. in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar would be compelled to hand over Mr Bin Laden to the US Govt. as soon as the US Govt. is able to submit the proof of Mr Bin Laden’s involvement in a crime. The fact that he and his family were great friends of George W, does not justify the extradition. By the way the US request to extradite an Iranian Engineer from France has recently been turned down by a French court.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

[...] McDonalds, a Reuters journalist, did muster the courage to mention bin Laden’s India link in a passing way in May last year. But the reason it came up was fresh developments in the [...]