March 3rd, 2010
07:21 AM ET

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden - remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,  the killing of two key Taliban commanders  and an increase in drone attacks.

But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban."

Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.

Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI - if not the Pakistani government may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.

Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Even if the U.S. draws a bead on bin Laden, he won’t be captured alive, says Thomas Mockatis, author of, “Osama bin Laden: A Biography.”

Mockatis says bin Laden has bodyguards who are tasked with shooting him if his capture seems imminent.

“Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

Many in the Arab world wouldn’t even believe reports that bin Laden had been killed, Mockatis says. They would dismiss the news as CIA propaganda and any photographs of bin Laden’s body as fabrications.

Killing bin Laden is important, but what’s more vital is the ongoing U.S. campaign to “constrict” al Qaeda’s operation, Mockatis says. The U.S. has become more successful at taking away al Qaeda’s safe havens, their ability to move agents and finance operations around the globe.

“It’s a grinding down process, the way you deal with organized crime,” Mockatis says. “You constantly keep the pressure on.”

That pressure may have led to several purported bin Laden sightings, says Ivan Kenneally, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York who teaches courses on American foreign policy and war and the state.

Some of those alleged sightings have placed bin Laden in Chitral, Pakistan, the northwest region of the country. One bin Laden tip from last fall was credible enough that the U.S. military and Pakistani special forces cordoned off  an area and kept it under 24-hour surveillance by drones, Kenneally says.

“There has been more general information that bin Laden is moving about North Waziristan, complicating his detection by constantly moving back and forth over the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Kenneally says.

Finding bin Laden might not come down to super-sleuthing or aggressive military action, says William Martel, associate professor of international security studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in Massachusetts.

“You need a healthy dose of luck to actually produce the capture of someone like that who doesn’t want to be captured,” says Martel, also author of “Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy.”

Martel, like others interviewed for this blog post, says that bin Laden is probably still alive.

It may actually be better if bin Laden isn’t captured, Martel says. The debate over handling bin Laden in captivity would be explosive.

“Do we read him his rights; do we run him through a military tribunal or civilian courts?” Martel says. “Capturing him would pose more problems than not.”

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden
soundoff (965 Responses)
  1. robert terry

    Bin Laden is a devout Muslim, and a falconeer who would not give up his toys. If he is in the US, then look for an elderly, sober, 6'4", falconeer who needs dyalisis. Can't be too many of those.

    March 26, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Travis Harm

      May 2,2011 Bin Laden Was killed by United States Marines. Brought to Your Courtesy of the Red White an Blue <3

      May 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SouthernBelle Mom

    I have spent some time this morning reading some posts and feel the need to express a few things that I feel have been left out or from some reason just thrown to the wayside, and I am unsure as to the reason why?

    Ok lets start with the Egyptian Newspaper Publishing a funeral article for Osama Bin Laden on Wednesday December 26, 2001. The article stated that he died of complications in his lungs and that he died a quite natural death, which validate the next point...

    The following date – December 27th 2001 a video tape was released of an ailing or ill Osama Bin Laden which showed him in need of medical attention. In the tape it stated that he has diabetes and needs dialysis for kidney problems.
    now before I go to the last point, without adding the fact that he's on the run and a criminal, an elderly person sick like this in a hospital has complications to include things like pneumonia and typically does not have a very good life expectancy.

    Ok and to the last point – On November 2, 2007 during an interview on Al Jazeera TV with correspondent David Frost, Benazir Bhutto reports Bin Laden as being dead, she goes on to state that he is not only dead but that he was killed by a mister Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh!

    All of this information can be verified, I am not some conspiracy theory person I just like to gather facts! so I think I’m going to go with – Dead! Does that change anything? No – We are still over sea's we are still losing father's, son's, mother's and daughter's over there everyday!

    We do need to get the facts however and we do need to start thinking and stop fighting amongst one another! We need to work together right now, because right now we are tearing ourselves apart form within!

    Thank you,

    A Southern Mom

    September 12, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. art

    Why was binladin's family swiftly sent to saudi arabia after 911? Officially bin ladin was the enemy as declared by clinton administration,howev er could the black opperation, unofficially cia had protected binladen. As a former asset of cia was there a safed handoff to pakistan isi for binladen's protection? Everyone on this planet knows binladin image, is 6'4", needs dialysis 3 times per week. My question is why are we protecting him?

    September 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • rac0820

      art im right with you! capturing is vital!

      March 27, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mr Todd J Tocco

    Here's a good guess, just suppose that Osama Bin Laden? was a scapegoat and was totally innocent. And when he was captured he was found to be not guilty maybe he could prove as to his whareabouts because he was a undercover agent for the FBI, or the CIA or maybe even Home Land Security. We may never find out exactly what happen to him.

    August 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JACKSON

    Most of you that have posted comments are ignorant of the fact, or refuse to understand, the Bin Laden is filthy, filthy rich, and his kind of money buys protection. The world has been looking for the Butcher of Kosovo for just as many years, and guess what, he's still out there too. Money, and people who believe in the same warped ideology are the best protection Bin Laden can have. His money can easily buy a portable dialysis machine, corrupt Pakistani politicians, and you have the Taliban as your protection. Besides, how many of you ever been to the tribal areas of Eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan. It's the most remote, desolate area on earth. Finding one man, who has the protection and money to hide, is a very, very difficult task. It ain't playing tiddly-winks folks!

    June 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    lets say Bin Laden is still alive and we have a lead of intel on him, if the U.S gov wants to find him alive they will get him by any means

    June 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim Murphy

    My sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan tell me that Osama bin Laden is dead and has been for a couple of years. I am sure the US knows this but don't want to admit it because it might mean they would have to pull out of Afghanistan.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hillbilleter

    Since when are criminals taken down only if public opinion is favorable? Is society so delicate that following through on capturing/killing this criminal will cause its collapse? That's so sad.

    June 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gary

    He died several years ago. Haven't seen him lately in a video, have ye?

    June 15, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ybs

    hunt down & kill OBL!

    June 15, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    Look for him to be a guest of Barry at the White House soon.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. dan lambert

    Bin Laden was killed in 2004 during the "Shock And Awe" offensive by the Bush Administration. Anyone who believes otherwise is only a puppet to the news and media lies they read, see and hear. Don't fool yourself into thinking that he is still alive and therefore more of our tax dollars can be spent to bring him to justice. Thinking that Bin Laden is alive allows our military to go into places and conduct themselves in a military manner when otherwise there would be no cause. The American people have been lied to for years and this is just another example.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. G

    Bin Laden dead or alive makes no difference at this point. His mark has been made. His brand of Islam is on the world market. It is aids in another demension. Can't be seen,no cure, no prevention, just fighting to slow down the progress.

    June 15, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • zzyzx

      OBL went to China for a kidney transplant recuperated from surgery in Iran, and is presently holed up in Chechnya.

      June 15, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Cody B

    Look on a big ranch in Crawford, TX. I'll bet you find him...

    March 23, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Guest

    The comment that the ISI knows the location of bin Laden is believable. The recent and sudden capture or killing of prominent Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan makes me wonder if the ISI had already known where these guys were but only now decided to tell the U.S. for whatever reason.

    March 23, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  16. Subrata Datta

    The guy who said that Bin Laden is protected by elements of the Pakistani intelligence is dead right. Bin Laden is insurance for the Pakistanis to milk the gullible Americans.

    If you guys squeexed the Pakistanis good and hard – no more +$$ , no more guns, no more planes no more everything, possibly you could get Bin Laden alive. Quit pussyfooting around and just do it.

    March 22, 2010 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  17. chester

    He is in the usa

    March 21, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  18. M. J. Abrams

    Amazing that the great intelligence services of the West haven't a clue as to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. Captured "Dead or Alive" would serve little purpose to Western governments.

    Bin Laden is probably on the payroll of the CIA, unbeknownst, to most of the US government.

    Seems as though Bin Laden did less damage to America and the world than our own fellow citizens working on Wall Street. I certainly don't see the federal government pursuing these "traitors" with the same perserverance.

    March 21, 2010 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  19. jon denim

    Pride and boastfulness are what Ben Laden is all about. He boasted that USA could not find him. He boasted about his role in 911. He boasted about his religion and give USA and the West the ultimatum to convert to Islam or face death.

    The only way to deal these boastful people a blow of reality is to capture him and parade him in chains in front of cameras like what USA did with Saddam Hussien. This would puncture his pride and the pride of those who think that their religion is superior to others and others must either embrace it or face death.

    In short, we need to capture and parade Ben Ladin and humiliate him in the eyes of the world.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  20. William Dora

    It amazes me how so many people can write as many elements so poorly. It is not that difficult to ensure the correct spelling of words, etc.,. Also, some of the ideas are not even close to being rational or a reference to good common sense. I am sure the American CIA and other intelligence branches are working feverishly to locate and bring to justice one, "Bin Laden". However and whenever it is done would be a blessing to the enrire world and especially the United States and those families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 episode. It would be a lot better for all of us if the individuals who continue to write using very poor wordings and reasonings would just take the time to do a better
    job of presenting their thoughts.

    Thanks for reading this.

    March 18, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  21. oowais

    bin laden does not trust the ISI. who would?
    the ISI has always used the afghans as insurgents in its dispute with india over kashmir.
    the ISI made a lot of money from the during the Charlie Wilson War.
    the ISI would gladly have given up information on bil laden if it could get them enough power in the Pakistani Parliament.
    the US should not trust the ISI, for is in it only to see what it gain from the present war.
    the ISI does not care about making Afghanistan a peaceful country.

    March 17, 2010 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  22. Thinktwiceagain

    Bin Ladin, paid by CIA. Why...................USA created Jihadiist and Mujahideen by providing american ammunitions and green money (so much that they never counted) to fight against Soviets by using the religious war slogans (Jihaad). Operation completed, in next phase needed to get in Afghanistan by himself for central asia resouces, needed Bin Ladin to conspire again; against afghaan people. Just to shake up call if America can find, catch and prosecute any person on earth or in the universe, how Bin Ladin is still loose? USA will not try to nab his own employee (Bin Ladin) untill mission is complete. After 30 years when the old documents would come out of archive for ordinary americans, will prove this notion.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Tim

    If Bin Laden isn't dead yet, he should be. Bush put a $25million bounty on him, what a joke, if it was $1,000,000,000.00 thats right $1 billion, we wouldn't be fighting in Afghan today, instead the Taliban, Pakistans, Afghanistans, mercinaries from the world. He never intended to end this war.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Ricky's frustration is probably correct. According to the latest statistics, there are currently 1,011 billionares in the world (of which Bin Laden is one). That's a lot of money centralized in a few hands while millions starve! I have read that Eike Batista, one of the new billionaires, makes 20 billion a year. Just think how many families that live on one dollar a day could be fed with 20 billion! Out of the 1,011 billionaires that I mentioned, there are ten that make above 100 billion a year. That's quite a sum for ten people to spend! As for Bill Gates, he is said to have donated to charity some 30 billion. Now, if this were true, he would have given a 30 million people a 1,000 dollars. Did any of you get 1,000 dollars recently? I did not! Which leads me to believe that the media exagerate Bill Gate's "charities", which by the way are non-taxable! Draw your own conclusions. Like Ricky, I am furious that the world is unable to control these billionares in such a way, that they are held accountable for the econoimic disparity in the world, the hunger, the unemployment! I do believe that Bin Laden is somewhere hiding. He wouldn't be hiding if his money was frozen by the banks! Money opens many doors. His money makes his hiding possible. One possible place where he is hiding, is Pakistan. I mention Pakistan because a state-sponsored terrorist stands more chances to hide in that place. But there are many other countries that might help him to hide! We must somehow change the world!

    March 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Ronnie

    One thing we hope to achieve is to end the international terrorism, US has tried achieve this but it requires an operative combination of stakeholder (countrie) to flash out all the wrong elements. A case in point is Nigeria which recently handed over the terrorist to the US operatives, this is a step forward in fight against it. We hope Bin Lden will be picked in his hideouts by the jiont forces and the pressure of terror will drastically reduce as we slowly deal with small units in different countries.

    March 12, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  26. ricky

    I can see my house on Google earth, We can locate space junk smaller than an inch heading toward the satellites, and they can't find bin laden? right....... he is just a tool so that people like us (the average) keep on spinning our heads while they rob us. The 10% of the world population owns 85% of the worlds wealth. The have created more billionaires even in this so called recession. Follow the money people. Who got rich in these so call wars.... keeping America safe..... we have to fight the ware there so we don't have to fight them here. ..... just a distraction from the real picture.

    March 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Know-it-all

    I'll flat out say he's dead! Proof to the contrary is welcome.

    March 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  28. T Blair

    Why not let CNN reporters ask David Frost of BBC why he did not made a scoop of the information that OBL was murdered given in the interview with Benazir Butto.
    For some time after this interview the information obout OBL was deleted. Today anyone again can find and listen to it on the BBC webb.

    March 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Horace

    Bin Laden obviously has not put his martyrdom where his mouth is so it is obvious he values his own life way more than the morons that blow themselves up value theirs. Will the death of bin Laden end the war? No, but it will be a morale booster for the Americans and it would change the tone of the conflict from being a "war" to being an ongoing fight vs theologically motivated organized crime, which is what it has been all along, only a certain American political faction benefitted by it being considered a "war", so much so that they allowed a six month long military action turn into a decades long military action. Trusting the Pakistanis to capture or stop bin Laden was like trusting the family cat to safeguard a parakeet.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Andrew

    bin laden is a tool.

    March 10, 2010 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  31. ChevyDog123

    Bin Laden is either dead or under US protection. You can't tell me that if we were actually looking for the man, we wouldn't have found him already. ...Not after that b.s. they call 9/11.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  32. Ali

    This is @ Jay,
    You have no right to speak of any religion the way you have done. It only depicts the dirt in your mind and the filth in which you have been brought up in.

    This is @ kk igorot al islamiya

    What is gone wrong with you? If you are Muslim which I believe you are not, you haven't read the Quran and teachings of Prophet, which declares that killing a single innocent person is a sin equivalent to killing of all humanity for which you punished to hell for eternity.

    Nobody wants to go to war and FYI you Insane people from Al-qaeeda, you are more hated in Muslim World then in Europe or US, because you have brought death and destruction. And you need 2 things..some one to kick you A@# and a good psychiatrist.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  33. Larry K

    Joice: I hate to tell You but Pakistan is on Our side!!! If it wasn't for Them things wouldn't be getting better in Afghanistan!!!

    March 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Cisneva

    I believe he's dead already and keep that information from us

    March 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Randy Silver

    He never existed...

    The real enemy are the GLOBAL criminal syndicates (ie Ibrahim Dawood).

    The problem is the criminal syndicates are the only thing which prevent soon-to-be failed states from completely collapsing. These criminal syndicates enable these failed states' spy agencies to have some relevancy, some of which have access to bio/chem/nuclear weapons.

    Bin Ladin has always just been a brand-name so we can have carte blanche all over the world in, at least, curtailing the means by which these criminal syndicates earn their filthy lucre.

    Tanzanite. Gold. Heroin. Cocaine. Precious gems (many of which are in Afghanistan).

    Do you get it now?

    March 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Obama Sux

    You know the cia knows where bin laden is but if they got him america wouldnt have a reason to be in the middle east. Also Iraq and Afganistan weren't big economic problems for the us, Obama was and is seriously over 1 trillion spent in his first year way to go America.

    March 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  37. tealtripod

    The CIA has him put up in a Hiltion Hotel somewhere.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Joey G

    From all nooks in the war ravaged zones, all the intelligence of the world are focused in finding bin laden. These are but hypos in order to give credence as to who is getting who.

    Take this cue, Bin Laden can only survive in an area where running at nights, lack of food, or shelter from the nights cold and the days heat, the whole kaboodle of military might, but these are but seeking a needle in the haystack.

    Bin Laden is just within the aggressors doorsteps!

    Another cue, since Asia is a country where the odds and ends of warfare are being taught and observed, he might be in the Philippines in a very small island group, with the same prospect that this country, amidst the corruption and the greed of money by the administrators of the government, may act like India or Pakistan.

    Is our US Embassy intelligence group working in this country since Kelly left the islands and the Wowowee show?

    What made some Muslim group that killed hundreds of self ethnic Muslim group fight to the kill protecting their land of Samarkand?

    Are the incumbent officials of the Phil government too aggresive to hide Osama Bin Laden?

    March 9, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  39. Laverne

    Who cares if he's dead or alive.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  40. kdog123

    The man is dead, has been for a couple of years now.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Karl

    If they ever catch him he should be tried in a civilian court and the jurors should be family members of those that monster killed!!!! better yet i would parade his a** all throughout New york just like the Roman emperors did when they won a war and caught a major general or leader of the opposite side!!!!

    March 8, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Bernard

    So is this all about oil or what? Whatever it is I still suggest we should go back to where is started, before we can get any answers. If truely America is responsible for thier own woes. Better still maybe we can find answers in the BIBLE because it does fortell the future and truely knows all thing.

    Lets all wait for 10 more years and see, if the dead or capture of Osama will be announced. The world is round so lets think as such, I know there is something hidden somewhere. All we have to do is to find that hidden secret.

    ONe more thing why is Osama and Obama almost the same can someone find the secret between OS and OB. lol

    May Gold be with us all...............

    March 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Nathanael [desert voice]

    I do not believe that Bin Laden is a hero, a martyr, someone that "fights the Moslem battle"! I will never believe in my life that murdering women and children is "Moslem's battle"! Watch this, straight from today's news, from Nigeria: "The killers showed no mercy: They didn't spare women and children, or even a 4-day-old baby, from their machetes. On Monday, women wailed in the streets as a dump truck carried dozens of bodies past burned-out homes toward a mass grave. More than 200 hundred of innocent Christians were mercilessly slaughtered." This may be Bin Laden's battle, but it is not Moslem battle! You do not become martyr by killing innocent women and children! Not in Moslem religion, not in any religion!

    March 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  44. unknown

    As long as we let the world know that Osama is alive, then he is not a martyr. It will give
    many muslim the feeling that there is a hero still fighting their battle.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  45. Mak

    Osama has been dead. But the cause of Islam has kept him alive so that there is a reason
    for the expansion of Islam. Islam has always been a religion that promotes its expansion
    by any means. Look at the history.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  46. Larry K

    Bin Laden is losing places to hide!!! It won't be long before He is caught & tried... Justice will be served yet!!!

    March 8, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  47. Rodrigo Ortiz

    It seems incredible to me, that the great American war machine has not been able to locate this man in 8 years. Other foreign intelligence services usually locate targets within weeks or months of a green light (take Mossad for example), but the US intelligence apparatus has not been able to do it? I'm not a conspiracy theory advocate or anything, but this just seems weird.

    March 8, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  48. MIRWIS

    DEAR SIR !

    OSAMA BIN LADIN THE ENEMY OF WORLD IS HIDING IN PAKISTAN SOMEWHERE IN KARACHI.

    MIRWIS

    March 8, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  49. IKENNA OBINECHE A

    What can i say, if the man is dead the Americans are wasting so much money on a cadabra or possibly chasing shadows, if he is alive he is probably doing the best disappearing act of all times, common lets face it with so many satelite technologies litterd in our galaxes and gprs networks everywhere,they could "AMERICANS" even get a picture of an UFO as difficult as that. How much more a dude like Bin Laden

    March 8, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  50. Bernard

    I think 62CCM and Nathan are right. Osama could be in US right under our nose and yet we are looking so far for him or better still HE IS DEAD. Wise US millitary and do what you are known to. For this to end I think US should go back to the beginning of all this.

    NO RISK NO REWARD.
    MONEY AND BRAINS RULEZ THE WORLD.

    March 8, 2010 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
  51. Jeff

    Hes a american Agent, chances are they killed him secretly

    March 8, 2010 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  52. Amani

    Why do so many of the people that post here have such inaccurate information / terrible terrible ideas?

    March 8, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
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