Steve Coll on Capturing Bin Laden — the Literal and the Literary

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Update: The book event with Steve Coll will be streaming live here starting at 12:15pm today.
Two of America’s leading terrorism experts, Steve Coll and Peter Bergen, are suggesting that Osama bin Laden is at his most vulnerable point since 2001 due to new political alignments and his increasing unpopularity — both of which may soon unmask his whereabouts. But with a recent government report suggesting Ayman al-Zawahiri has emerged as the “strategic and operational chief,” will bin Laden’s inevitable capture really matter?
It’s telling that just as our base of knowledge and understanding have caught up to challenge posed by our enemies of 2001 or even 2003, the face and strategy of our enemies may have already evolved.
Coll and Bergen have been at the forefront of investigating the evolving anatomy of terrorist networks like al Qaeda but also providing a richer context for the development of characters like Bin Laden himself — the complexities and subtleties of his thinking that are intimately tied to the contradictions in Saudi Arabia’s modernization path.
Today in a public event from 12:15pm to 1:45pm, New America Foundation President Steve Coll will be speaking about his new book The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. Peter Bergen will be offering remarks as well, and Steve Clemons will be moderating.
— Sameer Lalwani

Comments

13 comments on “Steve Coll on Capturing Bin Laden — the Literal and the Literary

  1. Kathleen says:

    As comedian Chris Rock says, he’s more concerend about Al Cracker than Al Qaeda.

    Reply

  2. karenk says:

    OBL?-he’s alive, he’s hiding in some villa type compond somewhere that he arrived at in the middle of the night, never has to leave and his loyal minions bring him what he needs, he really doesn’t have to do much more than that…Bush/Cheney have done more for the cause of al Qaeda than he could ever have imagined!

    Reply

  3. Kathleen says:

    I’m sorry to be so cynical, but I think OBL is safe and sound in a US Military Medical facility, in Bahrain, just like he was in July, 2001. The release of his videos, especially the timing, makes OBL seem more like a deep cover CIA asset than someone Das Bush and Co. is seriously pursuing. OBL’s parents and Das bush’s parents are both a lot richer today than they were on 9/10. What a farce!!!

    Reply

  4. Theophilus says:

    I agree that there is a strong possibility that Osama bin Laden
    died some time ago. The alleged Osama videos released in
    2004 and 2007 show a man wearing jewelry and flashy silken
    mantles — both of which are extremely un-Islamic for a
    fundamentalist imam.
    If Osama is still alive — why do all executive activities in al
    Queda seem to be coming from al-Zawahiri? More importantly,
    why was Osama’s only significant activity in the past seven years
    the release of a video effectively endorsing John Kerry four days
    before an extremely close presidential election? Walter Cronkite
    (and others) have pointed to this as the critical event that caused
    late-deciding voters to break for Bush in ’04.

    Reply

  5. David says:

    Somewhere along the line, these people just faded out of the big picture of life, to steal (and sort of butcher) a line from THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB, the greatest cowboy movie of all time.

    Reply

  6. Don Bacon says:

    This was not a top leader that was killed, and what it will do, of course, is that a lot of people who were on the fence, who were not militant, will now take up arms, along with other nationalists who are already fighting the US-supported Ethiopian takeover of their country. And then it will be “See, these are violent head-chopping terrorists. You can’t reason with them.”
    We’ve already gone through this in Iraq and Afghanistan with only increased violence and decreased success. Meanwhile, all the blah-blah-blah about Osama bin Laden who “is at his most vulnerable point since 2001,” when in Somalia soaring food prices and a worsening drought are causing a deteriorating humanitarian situation with about 2.6 million Somalis now needing assistance, and all this will be worsened (again) by US aggression.

    Reply

  7. David says:

    My god, Sue, that is beyond bizarre. What is wrong with these people?

    Reply

  8. Sue says:

    According to an US military official, five Tomahawk cruise missiles
    were launched to kill this one insurgent leader in Somalia along
    with a dozen “collateral damage” of civilians. That’s how US fight
    terrorists?

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    Headlines we’ll probably never see:
    US SCRAPS CARRIERS, SUBS, PLANES & TANKS AS USELESS IN GWOT
    SURVEY REVEALS TERRORISM EXPERTS OUT-NUMBER TERRORISTS
    PALESTINIANS REQUEST APACHE GUNSHIPS, CITE SUICIDE BOMBER SHORTAGE
    TERRORISM EXPERT SAYS GUY IN CAVE IS A WUSS
    GUY IN CAVE SAYS TERRORISM EXPERT KNOWS BEANS
    BARNEY RUBBLE STICKS UP FOR CAVE-DWELLERS
    US HAS 2.3 MILLION IN PRISON BUT NO TERRORISTS — WHAT GIVES?
    WORLD’S LEADING TERRIST HANGED; BUSH HAS NO FINAL WORDS

    Reply

  10. Darryl Parvin says:

    Yeah, how many more pathetic voice-over, still-video releases will we have to endure before someone admits Bin Laden’s dead? Then can we point out that Al Qaeda is nothing more than a list of people who attended a hotel-based summit that got inflated and twisted into some SMERSH type organisation? Outside of Iraq you’ve gotta figure more people are dying of bee stings and lightning than terrorists…

    Reply

  11. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    May 2, 2008, WASHINGTON — An American missile strike in Somalia apparently killed a militant long identified as one of Al Qaeda’s top operatives in East Africa on Thursday
    I just ggogled “us kills al qaeda agent” and got 1,900,000 hits.
    Going after OBL and al Qaeda with military force, as the US is supposedly doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, is like trying to kill a fly with a baseball bat. You’ll cause a lot of destruction but you won’t kill the fly, the fly in this case being the Muslim movement against the USA. The US State Department has told us recently that al Qaeda is in fact growing, and the CIA has told us it’s because of the excessive force the US uses.
    The demonization of Osama bin Laden is an old ploy used by the US to stoke the war fever. Hitler, Tojo, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam, Ahmadinejad — they’ve all been portrayed as bogeymen to personalize a great American effort, an effort that is really meant to extend US hegemony and increase profits. It makes no difference if OBL lives or dies, the US effort to extend hegemony will continue unchecked. The killing of Saddam Hussein and Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in Iraq have not made one whit of difference to US war aims.
    Anyhow terrorism, statistically, is a minor, even miniscule, threat to the average American. Bath-tub slips are a greater threat. The effort against terrorists should be one of intelligence and policing, not one of military force.
    Some experts agree:
    General Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that fighting terrorism is a police problem (which means the “Global War on Terror” is a bogus mistake):
    “People talk about, ‘Are you winning?’ First, you have to define: What is winning? And I don’t mean to be glib about that. Winning in this war on terrorism is having security in the countries we’re trying to help that allows for those governments to function and for their people to function.
    “Example. Washington, D.C., has crime, but it has a police force that is able to keep that crime below a level at which the normal citizens can go about their daily jobs and the government can function. That’s what you’re looking for on the war on terrorism, whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, or anyplace else.”
    Donald Rumsfeld agreed: : “At the present time — we’ve used the phrase ‘global war against terror,’ which I find not perfect. I think that it is really a long struggle, as opposed to a war, which implies armies, navies, air forces and Marines contesting each other. It is irregular, it’s asymmetric, and it is not against terrorism per se; it is against these violent extremists who use terrorism, but they also could use other things.”

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    May 2, 2008, WASHINGTON — An American missile strike in Somalia apparently killed a militant long identified as one of Al Qaeda’s top operatives in East Africa on Thursday
    I just googled “us kills al qaeda agent” and got 1,900,000 hits.
    Going after OBL and al Qaeda with military force, as the US is supposedly doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, is like trying to kill a fly with a baseball bat. You’ll cause a lot of destruction but you won’t kill the fly, the fly in this case being the Muslim movement against the USA. The US State Department has told us recently that al Qaeda is in fact growing, and the CIA has told us it’s because of the excessive force the US uses.
    The demonization of Osama bin Laden is an old ploy used by the US to stoke the war fever. Hitler, Tojo, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam, Ahmadinejad — they’ve all been portrayed as bogeymen to personalize a great American effort, an effort that is really meant to extend US hegemony and increase profits. It makes no difference if OBL lives or dies, the US effort to extend hegemony will continue unchecked. The killing of Saddam Hussein and Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in Iraq have not made one whit of difference to US war aims.
    Anyhow terrorism, statistically, is a minor, even miniscule, threat to the average American. Bath-tub slips are a greater threat. The effort against terrorists should be one of intelligence and policing, not one of military force.
    Some experts agree:
    General Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “People talk about, ‘Are you winning?’ First, you have to define: What is winning? And I don’t mean to be glib about that. Winning in this war on terrorism is having security in the countries we’re trying to help that allows for those governments to function and for their people to function.
    “Example. Washington, D.C., has crime, but it has a police force that is able to keep that crime below a level at which the normal citizens can go about their daily jobs and the government can function. That’s what you’re looking for on the war on terrorism, whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, or anyplace else.”
    http://www.defenselink.mil/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=3765
    Donald Rumsfeld agreed: “At the present time — we’ve used the phrase ‘global war against terror,’ which I find not perfect. I think that it is really a long struggle, as opposed to a war, which implies armies, navies, air forces and Marines contesting each other. It is irregular, it’s asymmetric, and it is not against terrorism per se; it is against these violent extremists who use terrorism, but they also could use other things.”
    http://www.defenselink.mil/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=3823

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It makes sense that Bin Laden has been dead for some time now. I’m amazed that Bhutto’s comment along those lines has been ignored.
    Certainly, Bin Laden’s continued role as the sinister boogie man, hiding in the caves of the Afghani border regions blotting murder and mayhem against the west, fits the agenda of these monsters such as Dick Cheney. But an alive Bin Laden would pose a HUGE risk to those that planned and executed the attack of 9/11/2001, a loose end that would terribly complicate the ridiculous “official story” should he become captured.
    There is no plus side to the “capture” of Bin Laden to these monsters that have perpetrated this con job called the “GWOT”. He is far more valuable to them if he is lurking under the beds of America’s gullible and frightened American public. The best way to perpetuate this scam would have been to get rid of Bin Laden early on. In fact, a key component to pulling off the crime of 9/11 would have been to have a concrete plan for the “removal” of Bin Laden.
    He’s been dead for some time now. Common sense demands that conclusion.

    Reply

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