Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Osama bin Laden: High Priest of Terror

Closing In

In the final days of November 2001, as the U.S. and allied military forces continue their campaign against bin Laden and the regime that protects him, the Northern Alliance makes serious inroads into the last Taliban strongholds of Khandahar and Konduz.  Thousands of former Taliban fighters have thrown down their weapons and surrendered, begging for leniency.  Many describe having to fight alongside the Taliban rather than risk execution. 

Several key figures in bin Laden's organization have been killed or captured, but none has provided any useful information regarding the whereabouts of their leader.  Many theories abound.  Some say he has left Afghanistan and crossed into Pakistan disguised as an Afghan refugee.  Others say he is hiding deep in the mountains to the north.  The latest theory is that he is hiding in one of three locations outside of Konduz and that he travels to a new location on horseback each night.

Unable to verify any of these theories, U.S. and British Special Forces continue to scour the countryside for any trace of bin Laden.  As they search, some have begun to speculate about what will happen when he is found.  Will he fight to the death as he has promised, or will he commit suicide as the net tightens around him? The capture bin Laden could create a larger set of problems.  If he is convicted and put to death, he will be martyred in the eyes of many radical Muslims, who may rise up to avenge his death.  If he is imprisoned, this could unleash a new wave of terrorist activity designed to secure his release.

Achmed Sataar, a close associate of Sheik Omar Abdul Rakman who, five years ago, was convicted of conspiring to blow up the Statue of Liberty, the U.N. headquarters and the Holland Tunnel, told ABC's Frontline recently:

"The American government don't get it.  You can kill Osama bin Laden today or tomorrow.  You can arrest him and put him on trial in New York or in Washington or whatever and this will end the problem? No.  Tomorrow you will get somebody else.  It's not a secret that the American government has more than one enemy.  It is the enemy of the Islamic movement all over the world whether it is by armed struggle or by peaceful means and you can see it.  You can see it from Algeria to Afghanistan.  The United States is at war with Islam."

Although the September 11 attacks shocked the world with their audacity and far-reaching repercussions, one positive factor remains.  A large percentage of the world's population was united in a collective resolve to never let it happen again.  Perhaps, at least in this case, some good will come out of it and the thousands of victims will not have died in vain.

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