Skip to comments.Could Bin Laden Be in the Last Place We'd Look?
Posted on 05/06/2010 8:57:22 AM PDT by MissesBush
(May 5) -- Is Osama bin Laden, America's public enemy No. 1, hiding right under authorities' noses in Washington, D.C.? Or is he instead spending his days enjoying his favorite sport -- falcon hunting -- in Tehran?
AP Where is Osama bin Laden? Those are the provocative scenarios put forth recently by two wildly different sources: the former by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a bizarre interview Tuesday on "Good Morning America," and the latter by an Icelandic documentary film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23.
Of course, the claims cannot both be true -- and many would say neither is -- but behind them lies a surprising amount of evidence and testimony suggesting that the 9/11 mastermind has at least visited both countries.
The Bird Wrangler
Bin Laden is said to be obsessed with falconry, an ancient European and Middle Eastern tradition that has been revived as an elite sport. It's also the focus of "Feathered Cocaine," which takes an in-depth look at the international market for falcons trained for this purpose ("the world's most mysterious and profitable illegal trade," according to the Tribeca Film Festival website).
The bin Laden connection emerges in the latter part of the film -- in particular, a scene in which a "disguised falcon smuggler from the Soviet Union ... says he met bin Laden in 2004 at a falcon-hunting camp in northeastern Iran" and then five times thereafter, according to the Daily Mail.
Bin Laden's fondness for the sport has been asserted many times before by the noted American falconer Alan Parrot (also a major subject of the film), who has trained falcons for royals throughout the Middle East, including the shah of Iran. In 2006, the website GlobalSecurity paraphrased him as saying "there was never any question that bin Laden was present" at hunting expeditions in Afghanistan, accompanied by other dignitaries from the United Arab Emirates.
That claim found support in the 9/11 Commission testimony of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who told senators that "the United States had planned to bomb a falconry camp in Pakistan when Osama bin Laden was present" in the 1990s, but canceled at the last minute when it was clear that "a minister from the United Arab Emirates was a member of the hunting party," according to The New York Times.
The Iranian Refugee
Similarly, the idea that bin Laden has sought refuge in Iran has been around for some time. Shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, Asia Times Online reported that "extensive investigations" had produced evidence that bin Laden "crossed the southwest border into Iran, where he [was] being sheltered by dissident Iranian guerrilla fighters."
Indeed, just a few months later, in February 2002, the Christian Science Monitor quoted a "self-described chef for Osama bin Laden as saying that 'Osama had three offers of escape: one from Iraq, one from Iran and another from some mafia types. ... Everybody said it was best to head to Iran, but I was not very keen on the idea,'" so the chef was left behind. But he maintained that the Iranian escape option was merely a gateway to "Azerbaijan, or possibly Chechnya."
But why would bin Laden, a devout Sunni Muslim of the Wahhabi tradition, go to Iran, where the predominant religion is rival Shiite Islam?
One option: The Times of London reported last year that bin Laden's closest relatives -- including one of his wives and seven children -- were living in a secret compound in Iran. "The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted [after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan], so they just kept them safe," bin Ladin heir Omar Ossama bin Laden told the paper.
That would seem to coincide with Parrot's claim that the al-Qaida leader "is healthy, surrounded by his wife and a few of his children and has only four bodyguards in Tehran, where is living under protection of Iran's Revolutionary Guard."
The U.S. Sightseer
Parrot's claims in "Feathered Cocaine" led "Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos to ask Ahmadinejad during an interview Tuesday: "Is Osama bin Laden in Tehran?" After deflecting the question several times, Ahmadinejad finally blurted out, "I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C."
The notion that America's most high-profile terrorist target -- a man with a $27 million bounty on his head -- could make his way to the U.S. undetected and reside here for any length of time seems incomprehensible. But as longtime bin Laden family researcher Steve Coll wrote in The New Yorker last year, bin Laden did once briefly visit the land of the free, home of the brave (albeit years before 9/11):
Osama was here for two weeks in 1979, it seems, and he visited Indiana and Los Angeles, among other places. He had a favorable encounter with an American medical doctor; he also reportedly met in Los Angeles with his spiritual mentor of the time, the Palestinian radical Abdullah Azzam.
As for bin Laden being here today, however, Fox News reports that a State Department spokesman vehemently denied the idea, saying, "Over the past few hours, we've done an intensive search here at the Department of State -- every nook and cranny, every rock, and we can safely report that Osama bin Laden is not here."
The Question Mark
Where, then, is the world's most sought-after terrorist? Many believe he remains hidden somewhere in the Hindu Kush mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, or perhaps in greater Pakistan itself.
As the hunt goes on and U.S. officials continue to wrestle with the question of what should be done if and when he is apprehended, one thing is certain: If he's still alive, wherever he is, he's made his nest secure.
Yeah, Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Bin Laden and in fact they were enemies and invading Iraq was "unjust" and "illegal." /sarc off
White House Map Room?
I was under the impression he is on a long extended vacation in the mountains. You know...Tora Bora.
He’s living in Iran. We are never going to get him. The Feds don’t want to get him.
I’m sure he has multiple dialysis machines, all bought for him by his Saudi backers, they can afford it.
Actually, that came out more like five years ago. It was just ignored.
His family and his inner circle were given safe haven in Iran. So its not much of a stretch to imagine he also was given refuge.
If we weren't ready to go to war with Iran, we might prefer to ignore that piece of information. There could be negotiations where we try to find the price tag that would induce Tehran to hand him over, quietly, but publicly we'd prefer to go after the Taliban in Pakistan rather than take on Iran directly (as opposed to our current low level conflict).
Cameraman for Katie Kuric ... writer for SNL ... Bill Maher’s stockbroker ... Soro’s main squeeze ...
<< Could Bin Laden Be in the Last Place We’d Look? >>
I think he’s pulling a “Lewinski,” and he’s hiding under Obama’s desk in the Oval Office.
I know that’s the last damned place that I’d look.
I don’t believe it. The man had Kidney problems. I believe he is dead and has been.
Obama did say he would ‘stand Muslim when the political winds shift in an ugly direction’...
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It really doesn’t matter if he is at the South Pole, in Iran, or going to rave dances in Seattle. The Feds do not want him captured. They want to keep him in circulation as a boogeyman for the rest of us to stay in fear of.
When? Cite reference, please.
Yep ... under a collapsed cave in Tora Bora. IOW ... he's dead, Jim.
don’t think so!
Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
Not having read the damned thing (correct adjective), I wouldn't have known.