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Newsweek: Bin Laden May Never Be Captured

Posted May. 25, 2005 03:34,   


“Is the hunt taking place in maze?”

The U.S. believed that it would soon be able to capture Osama bin Laden after capturing Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the latest culprit to be identified as Al Qaeda`s "No. 3” on May 2.

But the latest May 30 edition of Newsweek raised the possibility that the U.S. may never capture Bin Laden. The magazine says that some critics fear that bin Laden could slip into the mists of history unless U.S. policy—and luck—changes.

It says there are several reasons for that possibility. Bin Laden is believed to hide in an area with the most difficult military terrain imaginable, he is avoiding contact even with the most trusted leaders of Al Qaeda, and the Pakistani government is passive in capturing bin Laden.

"Our teams are getting nowhere," says Gary Schroen, a highly decorated former CIA officer who oversaw CIA operations in the region until August 2001 and still works on contract for the agency. He suspects that “the Al Qaeda leader hides himself in the steep, cave-pocked mountains of Waziristan, which most believe make up the most difficult military terrain imaginable.”

Bin Laden’s growing popularity as a hero of Muslims is another factor in the way of his capture. Some say that the Pakistani government is getting disengaged in finding him as it fears a horrific Islamist backlash if it publicly arrests the man who has become an Islamic Robin Hood.

Schroen also points out that when getting intelligence on a Al Qaeda suspect from the U.S., the Pakistanis acted only after determining that the suspect was not bin Laden.

His carefulness also helps him. Sources say that most of the leader`s meetings with even trusted aides take place outside his base. The point is to keep even his most trusted people confused as to his real whereabouts.

Bin Laden was last seen in December, 2001 when he escaped on a donkey from his hideout in the mountains with other Al Qaeda members. He has since let people know of his continued existence through tape recordings of his voice.

Ho-Gab Lee gdt@donga.com