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Al-Qaeda : Where is Osama Bin Laden?
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From: MSN NicknameSmigChick  (Original Message)Sent: 6/13/2008 7:06 PM
Where is Osama Bin Laden? An analysis

By Robert Windrem, NBC News Producer

It isn’t a comforting assessment.

A "Western military analyst" was asked earlier this month about reports that Osama Bin Laden was seen on the slopes of K2, the world’s second highest mountain on the Pakistan-China border, or in the Khost Province of Afghanistan.

His response was stunning in both its honesty and its frustration.

"We don't have a clue where he is or even may be,?the Western analyst said. “We have had NO credible intelligence on OBL since 2001. All the rest is rumor and rubbish either whipped up by the media or churned out in the power corridors of western capitals."

In fact, say U.S. officials, the last time U.S. operatives saw Osama Bin Laden--other than in his own videos--was in the famous Predator video shot in August 2000 where he is seen walking with a security contingent near his compound at Tarnak Farms in eastern Afghanistan. The Predators had not been armed yet.

The last time the U.S. heard Osama Bin Laden was at the battle for Tora Bora, when an NSA operative overhead him giving orders on a frequency not normally monitored and not recorded. There were some initial concerns about the identification but the agency later learned from other sources and materials that indeed that had been him.

But that unfortunately is it.

There have been suggestions Bin Laden was wounded, and some speculation he has died. One piece of evidence that suggested he had been hurt was the long interval between videotaped messages from him, but those were a long time ago. A tape released around Christmas 2001--and thus after the Tora Bora battle--was later determined (through time references in the tape) to have been made about November 17, 2001. After that, there were no contemporaneous videos until the October 29, 2004, tape, the infamous one released just before the U.S. presidential election. (Don’t be surprised if he does that again; al-Qaida is very cognizant of election dates.)

Still, the US is confident about some aspects of Bin Laden’s life on the run, drawn from interrogations of other high value targets as well as notebooks and computer hard drives captured with al Qaeda officials or found after they were killed.

Where does he live?
Not in caves. The general belief, gleaned from interrogations of his compatriots, is that Bin Laden lives in one of the many mud-walled compounds that can be found along the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. If you fly in a chopper, you will see them--large multi-walled buildings that are continually expanded. The largest ones are those of the clan leaders.

How often does he move?
Bin Laden is NOT believed to move that often, either. He does not normally change locations every night or even very frequently. He is believed to stay long periods of time--months in some instances--in one place. In some cases, al-Qaida security personnel have married into local tribes and clans, making them part of the extended family and giving Bin Laden and others additional protection. When he does move, it is not with a large convoy of trucks. (He used to be driven around in a white Mitsubishi Pajero, accompanied by white Toyota Tundras, but those days are long gone.) The latest information--and it is not current--is that he moves on motorbikes. One reason is that cars and trucks can be spotted by the roving “J-Stars?aircraft. Motorbikes cannot be as easily seen. According to Pakistani officials, Bin Laden and other al-Qaida officials move mostly late at night. In the hours after the sunset prayers, they will move into a village and take over a guesthouse in a large compound.

How is his health?
As for his health, he is 50 years old, turning 51 (according to the best estimates) in July. He does NOT have kidney failure and does NOT need dialysis. He has had kidney stones. He is also seen as somewhat of a hypochondriac. He is missing a toe, lost in a battle against the Soviets. He reportedly has an enlarged heart and chronically low blood pressure, which he treats with drugs. There is even some dispute over his height. Is he tall? Yes. Is he 6?? Maybe not. As one intelligence official told me, “If you see a guy who is 6??tall and looks like him, kill him.?BR>
Who are his bodyguards?
His security personnel are directed by his brother-in-law and believed to include Chechen and Uzbeks as well as Arabs. And yes, there are reports that if he is about to be captured, his bodyguards have orders to “martyr?him. However, the default position of U.S. forces has always been to kill him, not capture him. Don’t expect heroic efforts to save him, as in the case of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The same holds true for Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s deputy. The U.S. has Bin Laden’s DNA, which the Saudis provided. It’s always helpful when you have 52 siblings.

How important is he now?
The U.S. believes that OBL is more of a titular, inspirational leader, with Zawahiri as CEO and the leading philosopher. There has been some tension, the U.S. believes, between their Saudi and Egyptian underlings. The Egyptians are in charge, but virtually every counter-terrorism official we talk to notes that North Africans, particularly Libyans, are rising within what they call al-Qaida Central.

Do Bin Laden and Zawahiri travel together?
OBL and Zawahiri have not traveled together since mid 2003, for security reasons. Although the U.S. does not have a clue where OBL is, they have been able to track and target Zawahiri multiple times, by his own accounts. The most recent targeting was January 13, 2006, in Damodola in Pakistan. The U.S. fired volleys of Hellfire missiles at two guesthouses, but Zawahiri had already left. U.S. and Pakistani officials have told us that they believe he was tipped off. Zawahiri himself has admitted he was there.

Who is the next most important leader?
The U.S. has deliberately put a high priority on taking out al-Qaida’s Number Threes, killing or capturing five of them since September 11. They are the directors of international operations, the men who would organize attacks against the United States and United Kingdom. The big prize in each takedown are the computer hard drives, phonebooks and notebooks. To maintain operational security, al-Qaida requires that new courier and computer networks be formed. This obviously slows down planning. Moreover, the U.S. believes such takedowns are one of the few things that can push OBL’s security team to pick up and move. The hope is that U.S. spy planes see some of that movement.

Al Qaida’s current No. 3 is Sayed Sheikh, an Egyptian confidante of Zawahari.

http://deepbackground.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/06/13/1138296.aspx


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(2 recommendations so far) Message 2 of 4 in Discussion 
From: Jnp9Sent: 6/13/2008 8:18 PM
to find someone dont you have to be looking first?

Reply
 Message 3 of 4 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameSmigChickSent: 6/13/2008 8:44 PM
LOL, maybe they've just been relying on remote viewers. :^P

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 Message 4 of 4 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameZelfrieda1Sent: 6/13/2008 8:44 PM
Exactly!  Unless he's sitting on a oil well I don't think we'll find him anytime soon!
 
Well actually my prediction has always been that they have Osama tucked away somewhere and they'll bring him out right before the general election for votes!

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