Bin Ladens Plan When I Said That He Obl

Bin Laden’s Plan

When I said that “He (OBL) knew what the likely US response would be, and

had thought several steps ahead, as in chess” I was referring to September

and October, when the al-Qaida propaganda machine clearly was way ahead of

the United States. I personally also believe that al-Qaida assassinated

Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, on September 9

quite deliberately because Bin Ladin knew that the US would likely use the

Northern Alliance against him and his Taliban colleagues. He probably

figured that without its most experienced, popular and charismatic leader,

the alliance might fall apart and would be harder to mobilize by the U.S.

I did not mean to imply that Bin Ladin expected the US rather easily to

dislodge the Taliban, as they did Nov.-Dec. Even there, however, it seems

obvious that Bin Ladin had carefully planned what he might do if the US

*was* able to reach into Afghanistan, and that he has successfully eluded

them, along with most of his major lieutenants. I mean, it is really

quite extraordinary that he has eluded capture, and it suggests careful

forethought on his part. I do not believe he is dead. I think he has a

very nicely furnished cave somewhere not far from Khost, maybe on the

Pakistani side of the border. And I do not think we have heard the last

of him. It would be foolish of him to come out in the open after Tora

Bora and frontally challenge the US at this point. Bin Ladin does not

work though frontal challenges, anyway. He strikes sideways.


Juan Cole

U of Michigan

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