Two news stories over the

Two news stories over the weekend purported to add credence to the claim that bin Laden is still alive. The first related to an intercepted cell phone conversation involving Mullah Omar. There were numerous headlines like this one in the U. K. Observer: “Bin Laden still alive, reveals spy satellite.” However, the article indicates that this claim is based entirely on Omar’s statement to the other participant that “The Sheikh sends his [greetings].” The Observer claims that “voice analysis appears to corroborate the identification of bin Laden,” but this is incomprehensible since bin Laden’s voice was not on the tape. (The most interesting question is: who leaked this news about an interception by an American spy satellite, and why?) The second news item was al-Jazeera’s broadcast of a two-minute audio recording, purportedly made by bin Laden. Here again, the report was accorded considerable credibility; the UPI story was headlined in the Washington Times: “Bin Laden Threatens More Attacks.” But again, the story concedes that “United Press International has not been able to determine whether the speaker is bin Laden or when the tape was recorded.” My guess (and it is purely a guess) is that the voice will prove to be bin Laden’s. But there is nothing in the tape to prove that it was made subsequent to last December, the last time bin Laden was known to be alive. The tape refers to the September 11 attacks, but, so far as news accounts have indicated, nothing thereafter. In short, these stories contain little or no hard information. I still think he’s dead.

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