Conspiracy Bin Laden: Is he really dead?
Osama is dead. (Or is he alive?) The US killed him in a special forces operation. (Or did they only get his look-alike?). He was America’s bitterest foe. (Or was he was an American agent?)
Laden’s body was spirited away and buried at sea to avoid his burial place becoming a militant shrine (Or is he actually in captivity and the entire exercise is a psychological warfare ruse designed to confuse Al-Qaeda while the US interrogates him?) No, the truth must be that Osama died many years ago and the latest reports are only meant to put Pakistan in a tight spot.
Few men have sparked more debate and prompted more conspiracy theories than Osama Bin Laden, given that he has been reported dead so many times in the past, and that his rumoured hideouts ranged from Chitral to the K2 mountain to Iran, news of his death in Abbotabad will by no means put an end to the theories. It will simply spark new ones.
Some, will dismiss reports of Osama’s death as propaganda by a United States desperate to show any kind of victory in the global quagmire that the war on terror has become. Adding grist to the mills is the now-proven fake photo that has circulated and was in fact even aired by several local TV channels and the ambiguity over what has become of his body.
Others will look at it from the point of view of Pakistan’s tattered sovereignity. The late and seemingly confused official reaction from Pakistan, the secrecy that still shrouds the mission itself will prove to many that the US is capable of taking unilateral military action deep inside Pakistan without being detected. If Osama can be taken out in Abbotabad, a stone’s throw from key military facilities, then how safe are our nuclear assets?
While it’s true that Obama did mention Pakistan in his speech, the Pakistani establishment has been reluctant to confirm its own involvement. If this is through fear of retaliation by al-Qaeda and its domestic allies, that fear is groundless. Al-Qaeda is in a state of war with Pakistan in any case, and the reaction from this now-fragmented organisation will come regardless of whether Pakistan was actively involved in this operation or not. To take part of the ownership for it would be the wiser course, as it would at least allow Pakistan to control the narrative at an early stage.
In India as in Afghanistan, the reaction has been predictable, with the focus once again on Pakistan as the safe refuge for international terrorists. While this is to be expected, this time however, the charge will not be easy to deflect or label as mere propaganda. The very fact that Osama was living in a ‘custom-built’ compound in a city host to military bases and academies implies either an intelligence failure of epic proportions or else collusion.
The first option is humiliating.
The second is terrifying.
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