Skip to comments.Analysts: Bin Laden has Escaped Afghanistan
Posted on 11/29/2001 5:35:19 PM PST by Fusion
Osama bin Laden has escaped the encroaching American dragnet in Eastern Afghanistan and is headed west, possibly helped by Iraq -- with an ultimate destination believed to be Africa or the Balkans according to US diplomatic officials. Bin Laden and a group of some twenty lieutenants and bodyguards departed his Afghan lair early this week, crossing into Pakistan via caravan along ancient mountain tracks at high altitudes. "We missed him," says Mike Scanlan of the US Embassy in Banja Luka.
While the western media trumpets the impending elimination of Osama bin Laden and the apparent collapse of Taliban forces, Washington officials concede their quarry has escaped the noose. Privately they suggest Iraq may have been involved at some level with logistical support in assisting the al Qaeda leader's run. "Think about it," says US Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), "Baghdad knows we are coming after them next, once business is finished in Afghanistan. By keeping bin Laden from our grasp, they hope to delay our next strategic move."
Could the US begin the attack on Iraq before bin Laden is captured or killed? "No way," replies Hayworth. "The president has set out clear objectives that must be accomplished for each phase to transition to the next. We want a clear cut victory in Afghanistan before moving against Saddam. If bin Laden has indeed escaped Afghanistan then some adjustments will be taking place soon."
With bin Laden on the move west, it is suspected he may transit the Caucuses region -- an area that could provide safe haven during the winter, before reaching Bosnia or Albania in the spring. Chechen fighters battling the Russian Federation enjoy strong support in Azerbaijan, where a shaky Baku government has made it difficult for the US to operate effectively. In addition, the murder of a midlevel American intelligence operative there last year sent a clear signal that Azerbaijan remains beyond western geopolitical hegemonism sufficient to manipulate events on the ground.
Should Osama bin Laden reach Albania then he is gone. Despite American intelligence successes there during the last half decade, US assets on the ground continue to operate in an informational black hole. "Tirana has close to a million people supported by very little municipal organization or cohesion," one veteran Albania watcher advises, "nobody knows what is happening here now. Should the government be overthrown next year then the seeds of the coup will be planted in the coming months -- fertile ground for bin Laden, with both sides more than willing to offer him sanctuary in exchange for cash."
Whether Osama bin Laden reaches the Balkans or Africa by the spring to reconstitute his shattered organization remains to be seen. What is clear is that he has managed to escape Afghanistan before the heavy winter snows made such a journey impractical. What then will be the Washington response to this event? Will the Pentagon and White House planners attempt to claim bin Laden's death after massive bombardment of his Afghan mountain hideout?
"Unlikely," says Scanlan. "We've got world opinion and credibility on our side now. To claim victory and then have him pop up somewhere else would be a disaster. However if he tries to come through the Balkans we'll take him down."
Mike Scanlan needs to focus on the new RS government that will be formed soon as PM Ivanic is none too pleased with recent shenanigans slowing the privatisation process. Everybody knows Dodik wants back in the game in the RS -- apparently it will be up to the State Department to finesse the downfall of the SDS -- with or without him.
Note what the article says about Iraq attempting to delay the "next strategic move" of the U.S....will the neo-cons have their way and get the U.S. to invade Iraq to oust Saddam (doing Israel's dirty work yet again)?
Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.
Him, his fourteen wifes, his 50 kids and couple of goats. No one even noticed when they crossed the border.
If not and if he were smart, there's only one place he can go . . .
Oh I hope so. Kaboom! Buh Bye!
With all due respect to J.D. Hayworth we absolutely do not need to catch Bin Laden before getting Saddam. Bush could come on TV any night and announce that we are must stop Saddam from getting WOMD and bombing began 15 minutes ago, and the American people would cheer. And Bush knows that even if J.D. doesn't.
Yes, it do. I'm holding out for better, myself.
It'll make more sense that way.
The curtain is coming down - I don't suppose you've ever heard the tale of "Deep in the Hurtgen Forest" on FR, have you?