Did We Let Him Get Away On Purpose?
A Speculative Note
By Jack Wheeler

There is an irresistibly intriguing rumor making the rounds on Capitol Hill today.  It is that the Pentagon and the CIA could have nailed Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora last week, but let him escape instead.  Why would they do such a thing?  "A Twofer Payback" is the answer. 

Let's draw up a list of prospective countries to where OBL might run, places anarchic or insanely hubristic enough to provide him on-the-lam shelter.  There are five.

Somalia.  What better justification, what better opportunity, could there be to payback the Somalian savages who killed 18 U.S. peacekeeping soldiers and dragged several of their bodies through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993, than if OBL escaped to Somalia?  There have got to vast legions of folks in the U.S. military who are right now praying, "If he got away, please let him get away to Somalia."

Iraq.  GW is working overtime to create a rationale for going after Saddam, and getting our European allies behind it.  If Saddam were fool enough to take OBL in, no more rationale is needed.  The BLU-82 Daisy Cutters and GBU-28 Bunker Busters start dropping tomorrow.

Iran.  While it seems unlikely the mullahs would help and hide OBL, his presence and the massive U.S. military strike against it would immediately precipitate a national uprising.  Iran is a desiccated tinderbox, ready at any moment to burst into flames of revolutionary revenge against the mullahs.  OBL's fleeing to Iran would be the catalyst for conversion of Iran from theocratic tyranny to secular pro-West democracy.

Saudi.  OBL's ultimate fantasy is to become the Ayatollah Khomeini of Saudi Arabia.  He has strong support by the ultra-puritanical Wahabis, the Islamic sect that financially sponsored the Taliban and are now dedicated to purging Mohammed's sacred homeland of the corrupt Saudi Royal Family.  The Wahabis providing sanctuary to Osama, and trying to instigate a civil war thereby, would give the Saudi Royals, backed by US firepower, the excuse they need to wipe them out for good.

Pakistan.  As anyone who has traveled through the Pushtun area of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan knows, the Pak government exercises diaphanously nominal control over it.  If a Pushtun tribe with more hubris than brains gives OBL sanctuary, it is the pretext for the Pakistani military - still dominated by Punjabis who despise the Pushtuns - with US firepower to establish sovereignty over their entire country and end the endemic anarchy.

There is simply no way for Osama Bin Laden to vanish in obscurity.  These five countries seem to be the only conceivable places to where he might attempt escaping.  There are quite beneficial consequences for the US should he do so for any of the five.  Thus the rumor.  It may be nothing more.  The possibility of a Twofer Payback has, nonetheless, a magnetic appeal.  

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