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Last Updated: 03/01/2006
Bin Laden the Bogey Man
Simon Stander

Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and Goering all saw themselves off and saved much embarrassment to the allies in court room dramas. Saddam Hussein however is not going quietly. His antics in court are likely to go on for some time. I am pleased to see, however, that the US general who supervised Saddam’s capture has not had his career ruined. General Ray Odierno, an admirable officer who has been promoted from two to three-star general, is now on the joint staffs in the Pentagon. Clearly bumping Saddam off was not in the rules of engagement. I wonder if some US politicians may now be wondering if the rules of engagement should have tended more on the dead than alive side. On the other hand killing top notch enemies means that the public have to be sure that the desired targets are really dead and gone. Once upon a time top miscreants had their heads severed and then spiked in public places like the gates of the city or London Bridge. No mistake about that.

While Saddam is performing in court, the recurring feature Is Bin Laden Dead or Alive? is playing again here and there in the world’s press. A top Australian professor, Dr. Clive Williams, says he has documents that indicate Bin Laden died last year. “It is hard to prove or disprove these things.” He didn’t add, fortunately, I suppose, that nothing short of a head on a stick will convince most sceptics. After all, to believe some people, Jim Morrisson of the Doors, Hitler of the National Socialist Party, Elvis Presley the King, and Butch Cassidy are all still alive.

A good deal of circumstantial evidence exists to indicate that Bin Laden died much longer than a year ago. President Musharaff of Pakistan said Bin Laden was dead as long ago as December 2001. He later changed his mind, but then again he is a politician and that’s allowed. A few months later Dale Watson claimed Bin Laden was dead in July 2002. Dale Watson was head of FBI counter-terrorism. He immediately retired at the advanced age of 52 and never mentioned the matter again. Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times also argued Bin Laden was dead. Some think he was killed as a result of the bombing the Tora Bora caves.

If he is dead but the good guys are claiming he may well be alive, that’s all to the good. No ranting in court. No paying out $25 or $30 million in reward money and no harm having a bogey-man around to scare the children along with the rest of us. Talking of the reward money, how about leaving the whole matter to Hollywood? Disgraced Delta Force officer (Woody Harrelson) and SAS sergeant (Jude Law) with bad case of post-traumatic stress, set up raid on Bin Laden’s HQ somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghan border. They rope down with a hand picked team and extract top miscreant Bin Laden, who dies on the way of kidney failure despite strenuous attempts to revive him as they escape over the snow capped mountains. The team claim their millions, the public see the dead bogey-man in full pixels. So we turn to TV news and watch Saddam continuing to rant on and thank General Ray Odierno for getting his man back alive.

Simon Stander is the Editor-in-Chief of the Peace & Conflict Monitor