Where’s Osama?

The Prime Minister of Pakistan denies Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan - yet all the available evidence points to his presence there.

With Afghanistan once again dominating the headlines, the question which could hold the key to the conflict, indeed the very reason for the war in the first place, remains unanswered: namely the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.

On Sunday Gordon Brown asked that exact question, in a strongly-worded address to the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit in Trinidad – pointing the finger at Pakistan. He said:

“We’ve got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden.”

However today, standing alongside Mr Brown, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani denied any such link, saying:

“I don’t think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan.”

So where is the al-Qaeda leader?

Almost all accounts put him in Pakistan, in the mountainous no-mans-land to the west of the country, along the border with Afghanistan – the most recent being the United States Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations report, published Monday, which concluded:

“On or around December 16 [2001], two days after writing his will, bin Laden and an entourage of bodyguards walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area.

“Most analysts say he is still there today.”

The publication, “Tora Bora revisited: How we failed to get bin Laden and why it matters today”, looks at the weeks leading up to 9/11 and the first months of the war.

It reveals just how close US troops, in concert with Afghan allies, came to capturing bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his second-in-command and now the face of al-Qaeda, fronting their chilling in-cave videos in which the terrorists threaten attacks and criticise Western civilisation.

Committee chairman John Kerry added:

“When we went to war less than a month after the attacks of September 11, the objective was to destroy Al Qaeda and kill or capture its leader, Osama bin Laden, and other senior figures in the terrorist group and the Taliban, which had hosted them.

Today, more than eight years later, we find ourselves fighting an increasingly lethal insurgency in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan that is led by many of those same extremists.

“Our inability to finish the job in late 2001 has contributed to a conflict today that endangers not just our troops and those of our allies, but the stability of a volatile and vital region.”

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