As a Pakistani, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death brought a mixture of emotions:
Relief – Well that’s one less “problem” to worry about.
Skepticism – Yeah right, he was in Abbottabad! Just how in the whole world was he a stone’s throw from the Military training academy in Kakul and no one knew about it?
Dismay – The claim that he was in Pakistan all these years was true!
Fear – May Allah protect us (the citizens of Pakistan) from the backlash that is surely going to stem from this.
Cynicism – So what if he’s dead? There are many more such monsters out there that will continue to haunt us.
Anger – Why is the Pakistani government / military not issuing any statements about an event in which they obviously participated.
Mistrust – Was Osama Bin Laden really alive all these years? Or was he part of some grand conspiracy? Why did they do a sea burial without showing the body to anyone?
Sadness – A misguided individual died without being able to see the light.
After trying, unsuccessfully, to get my son out of bed to get ready for school, I sat on the bed and checked my email.
The subject “Turn on CNN or whatever news station you listen to” catches my eye!
Seems like the US has Bin Laden’s body. Obama is going to give a speech in a few mins!
A quick channel flip on the TV (sorry Diego, Bin Laden was more important right then). Lo and behold we have the CNN people claiming OBL died last week in a “mansion near Islamabad”. So the next move is to see what my tweeps on Twitter say. And then this post on Osama and whether he’s alive (reproduced below) I wrote back in June 2009 pops up in my head!
Seems like OBL has finally run out of lives. Killed in an operation carried by US Forces in Abbottabad, in an operation inadvertently tweeted by fellow Pakistani Tweeter Sohaib Athar. Well in a way good riddance really, however, the question that leaves to be asked is:
Oh and for the record, to all the media people saying he was killed “near Islamabad”, Abbottabad is not near Islamabad!
Osama Bin Laden, the 25th son of Mohammed Bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire of Yemeni origins, carries a USD 25 Million price tag on his head. Among his alleged claim to fame are being Number One on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list, wanted for the bombing of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998), creating a gaping hole in the skyline of New York City (what is commonly referred to as 9/11), and finding a way to speak from the grave.
Around the end of 2001, OBL was thought to be dead by several governments around the world, including that of George W. Bush. His video released in December 2001 prompted the following comments from CNN Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen:
“This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he’s really, by December he’s looking pretty terrible. But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he’s barely moving the left side of his body. So he’s clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He’s got a wound in his foot. He’s apparently got dialysis … for kidney problems.
I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape.”
A wounded, almost dying OBL in 2001 revived miraculously and was in the best of health in 2004 (must be that great hospital in Tora Bora or a real life Benjamin Button). Following this, over the years, several people have voiced their belief that OBL was no longer amongst us. Hamid Karzai, Benazir Bhutto, Pervez Musharraf, FBI, and Israeli Intelligence all have publicly stated that OBL is dead.
- 2001 and 2004 – Miraculous cure?
Based on the intelligence and the statements of the above mentioned, it can only be that OBL was conveniently replaced by an actor. Since then he (and his boy Ayman Al-Zawahiri) have a knack of appearing with a new production conveniently coinciding with major events on the US Political calendar. Just last week, a group of friends were discussing how OBL, Mullah Omar, and Zawahiri were missing in action. And this week to coincide with Obama’s maiden trip to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Pakistan, we see OBL speak up from the dead. How convenient.
- OBL & Zawahiri (in 2001)
What lends credence to the beliefs of many, of OBL now inhabiting a Tora Bora on the other side of the mortality divide, is that the last video of OBL was seen in October 2004 (OBL’s messages) and all subsequent messages from OBL have been audio tapes or videos with a voice over. Thus, it is theorized that the man we now believe to be OBL is in fact an actor. More on this can be found here.
But whether this OBL is the real man, or whether he is a better and more improved version (OBL 2.0 or Osama Bin Elvis as Angelo M. Codevilla refers to him), the question that one should ask is this. Why is it that a man whose head carries a tag of more than USD 25 million has not been found yet? Surely someone out there would be so tempted by that figure. And why can’t the US (or any other country’s intelligence agencies) find OBL? In an era where you can see someone on the street of New York using Google Earth from Antarctica, is it really that hard to find this guy? Or is it just that everyone’s looking in the wrong place? Instead of the mountains of Afghanistan (or even Pakistan as some speculation goes), maybe the US Intelligentsia should be looking for OBL 2.0 in a desert 83 miles from Las Vegas.
Some Suggested Links
The stated goal of the Hu Jintao-led Chinese government is a “harmonious society”. Perhaps that is why the word “Egypt” was blocked on certain search engines over the weekend. Multiple factors are in play in Egypt, but there is one vital similarity with China: Food inflation of a breadth and severity that few in the market appreciate.
China’s food inflation is different from its other inflations, notably real estate and wages. It is more dangerous. For as much as there have been spasmodic protests around the price and availability of homes and pay, and as much as there has been a gross misallocation of capital – whether viewed from the perspective of urban property investors or the gigantic follies of empty shopping malls and cities – neither wage disputes nor asset price bubbles bring down centralised political regimes.
China’s ruling Communist Party is not the broken coalition of Ireland’s Brian Cowen, nor the discredited government of Gordon Brown. With the national army literally at the party’s sole disposal and an extraordinary network of economic, commercial, media and social control, it would take something a lot more serious to unseat the powers that be; something like food.
With food prices having played a part in destabilising two autocratic regimes in Egypt’>Tunisia and now Egypt (plus possibly more from Yemen to Algeria), it’s time we canvass the unthinkable and ask could the same happen in China?
Firstly, we must consider the external causes of China’s food inflation issues. Foremost is surely the unbalanced global economic recovery, which has coupled raging demand in emerging markets with insipid demand in developed markets. The combination is explosive because the two create a feedback loop of low interest rates and quantitative easing (QE) in the US feeding inflated stock prices at home and commodity prices abroad.
In this blogger’s view, the likelihood is that these dynamics will continue. On Friday, the US Federal Reserve recommitted to completing its QEII bond purchase plan and US Treasury Tim Geithner declared growth still too anaemic to lower unemployment. QEIII is a distinct possibility.