Where’s Waldo
The Search for Osama
By Mario Giardiello

Who really believes that Osama bin Laden is still holed up in the mountains of Afghanistan? With the money and resources available to him, it doesn’t make sense that he would wait like a rat in a cage to be caught and killed. We keep being lured to articles in the newspaper that promise his capture. "Surrounded," "Cornered," "Trapped," and "Encircled" are just a few of the headline promises, but as we read deeper there are always the fact that taunt us by the end of each article: We do not know where he is.

Everyday we read the articles and we hear doubts from Franks, Rumsfeld, and Bush. Towards the end of each article is a quote from one of these military leaders. Rumsfeld has said about Afghanistan, "we’ve known it was a likelihood from day one (that the al-Qaeda fighters can escape to Pakistan). It is a big country with a porous border. These folks have moved back and forth across the borders. They have money." Does this sound like the Defense Secretary has the enemy trapped? He also admitted, "There’s no doubt in my mind that any number of al-Qaeda have gone across various borders…." So why should we not expect that bin Laden has been one of those escapees? General Tommy Franks was forced to be blunt saying, "The honest answer is we really don’t know (the whereabouts of bin Laden)." 

The bottom line is that if he is still in the area then he is surrounded, trapped, cornered, and encircled. This is a big "if."

Bush is doubting if and when the capture will take place. He said that he doesn’t "know whether we’re going to get him…" and warns it may take more than a year.

Americans are still holding on to false notions of winning this war, based on the capture of the madman ringleader. We want to believe that he is a rat in a cage, scurrying about his cave-palace, regretting his deeds. But we have proof that this isn’t so from the eerie video of him gloating and thanking Allah. If hundreds of Taliban fighters have escaped into Pakistan, you can be sure that bin Laden was among them. What if he is still hiding in his cave in Tora Bora? What is he doing, do you suppose? Waiting to be killed or captured? Does that sound like the mastermind behind September eleventh events? Not to me, and not to many Afghanis who know he is slicker than that.

Would you be close by if the strongest military in the world was after you? It is alleged that these mountains have electricity, plumbing and internet service. If this is true, and it isn’t hard to believe with all their money, it must be easy for the Taliban and al-Qaeda to predict our military’s every move. I am grateful for freedom of the press in this county, but I have to believe that it has helped bin Laden stay a step ahead of his pursuers. He knew the moment we started to suspect he was in the Tora Bora mountain region. I am sure it was then that he split, or even sooner.

The terrorists understand, if nothing else, that the longer this war goes on, the more of a chance there is that the Muslim world will tire of it and start to see it as a war against Muslim people. Even Afghan fighters have expressed conflicted feelings about fighting Muslims. One Afghan fighter has said recently, "fighting against Arabs is fighting against Islam." This attitude permeates throughout the Anti-Taliban forces. Another fighter explained, "If I die fighting an Arab, I’m an unholy martyr, but if I kill an Arab in battle, he’ll be a shahid (a holy martyr)." He went on to say "This is not a holy war. We are supporting Americans and non-Muslims against Muslims." Many Afghan fighters had even admitted to praying for Osama’s escape and safety. They are not convinced of his guilt, and have sworn that if they found him they would help him to escape. These Afghan fighters point out that he is still a fellow Muslim, a philanthropist, and a freedom fighter that helped save them from the Soviets in the 1980’s. Does this sound like America has convinced the world that he is guilty and a terrorist?

As the "war on terrorists" endlessly toils on, the world will start questioning their hearts and America’s motive. We will collectively begin to question the real goals and objectives of our attacks. Could it be true that we intend to abolish terrorism? Do our leaders believe this to be possible? Is there agreement on who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter? Could we even begin to wipe away the many enemies that plague our great nation? It is not rational to believe that our government thinks we can accomplish this objective. No, bin Laden is not trapped, cornered, or surrounded, but even if he was, the victory would only be in our minds. The war will last as long as our delusions last.

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