Let’s Challenge Al Qaeda To Prove That Bin Laden Is Still Alive

July 14, 2007

In light of the recent al Qaeda video containing a 50 second “message” from OBL that seems to be nothing more than old footage (hat tip Hot Air), it’s pretty clear that the terrorist organization wants us to believe that their leader is still alive and kicking.  After all, if he’s dead, they aren’t exactly advertising it.  Also, with this “call for martyrdom“,  al Qaeda seems to think that he’s still a pretty influential guy.

So I had an idea.  An idea to fight these guys that goes on the offensive but doesn’t require tanks, bombs, bullets, intel, or informants.  This idea requires nothing more than Bush stepping in front of the cameras to deliver an ultimatum:  Prove Osama is alive within 30 days or we’ll declare him dead. 

One would think that it’s not asking too much of them.  A simple video of the man talking about current events or some other proof of life would be all they need. There are probably dozens of ways they could do it without having him come out of his cave.

What would Zawahiri do?  My guess is that it would immediately put al Qaeda on the defensive.  If he’s dead or incapacitated, they certainly wouldn’t want all their little cells all over the world knowing they’ve been pulling a fast one on them all this time (since ’04?), so they would probably attempt to brush it off as some sort of subversive plot to locate their hideout or something.  Even if they did that, however, it would marginalize any future video depicting bin Laden since it would contain footage that wouldn’t prove he’s alive even while the challenge is still out there.  Or, they may simply chose to ignore the challenge and refrain from releasing any OBL footage in the future.  That’s the best outcome, as we would declare him dead and the cells would have their wills deflated knowing that its probably true and their leadership wilted under the ultimatum.  Al Qaeda would essentially lose their idol.

Of course, there’s a chance that Osama is still alive and that Zawahiri can readily respond to the challenge.  If that’s the case, then we really wouldn’t be much worse off than we are now.  Perhaps we could use the opportunity to track their location since this would be a video delivered more on our terms than theirs.  It’s probably not likely, but we could catch a break in the process and get lucky.

In any case, this idea certainly seems better than the alternative, which is allowing a phantom to inspire the world’s jihadis indefinitely.  We wouldn’t want bin Laden to live on for 50 years like some sort of terrorist Elvis Presley.  I think it’s time to remove the Osama card from their hand, and since we obviously can’t prove that he’s dead, we should put them under the pressure to prove that he’s alive.  It seems like a safe bet to me.

Of course, the question is (as it usually is): Would Bush do it?  Is ‘dead or alive’ still valid?  Or, as some suggest, does Bush have as vested an interest in Osama’s phantom-ness as al Qaeda does? 

C’mon Bush!  Get ‘tough on terror’.  Call them on their BS already.

Edit:  I did think of one negative scenario.  If bin Laden is still alive and well then al Qaeda may decide to wait until after we’ve declared him dead to prove he’s alive.  I’m not sure how that would play out.  It could make AQ look so weak that they couldn’t even produce a simple video within 30 days, or it could bolster Osama’s status (in a “back from the dead to poke the infidels in the eye” sort of way). Even so, it’s worth the risk I think.

Update: Wiki has a list of statements, video and audio of OBL since 9/11. Bin Laden may have died as late as last year , assuming the audiotapes are authentic. But it looks like there is no video proving he is alive since 2004. 

Update:  Blogger Ali Eteraz surmises that OBL’s appearance in the video, and the hadith being repeated could be significant and that it could mean that he is, in fact, dead:  Breaking Al-Qaeda Code Islamically: New OBL Video Possibly Announcement Of His Death



  1. I am compelled to agree.

  2. You are looking at Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden in very Americanized perspective. Terrorism will be completely wiped out from earth when Osama Bin Laden is killed. Al Qaida top two leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zahawari are both way more intelligent and than Bush who succeeded in building their movement on the issues which are very sensitive all around the Muslim world. Al Qaida propaganda wing is more effective than US helping them to gain more popularity and sympathies among common Muslims. Al Qaida has become an ideology, thank to Bush stupidity of Afghanistan and Iraq invasion and with unconditional support for Muslims oppressive governments and Israel.

    Al Qaeda top leaders are not idiots like to Bush sallow US bait of releasing any video or audio tape leaving any trail behind and your proposal is childish.

    The Al Qaida threat can only be eliminated with intelligent approach which Bush regime don’t have. Bush regime is expert in coming up with slogans of evil and good and try to blame Al Qaida Iran Syria and the whole world for all their failed policies.

  3. QB-

    I agree with most of what you said there, but I obviously don’t think my idea is childish. You’re right, this is an ideology and al Qaeda is very good at spreading their propaganda. Part of that propaganda, incidentally, is based on the belief that the godfather of the movement (Osama) is still alive and handing out his blessings. My proposal is simply a way of combating that. I don’t believe terrorism or al Qaeda will stop if it is known that OBL is dead, but if he his, I believe it’s in our best interests to prove it.

    If you can think of a better way to do that, then I’m all ears.

  4. Chen Zhen,

    Sorry Chen Zhen for bad choice of word. I would like to change it to “your idea will not work”. Please change it.

    It is really impossible to subdue terrorism with Bush occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Qaida ideology can be defeated with eduction, economic growth, by getting serious in giving Palestinians independent state along side with Israel, stop US unconditional support for all Israel aggressions, start listening and getting enghage with Hamas and Hizbollah instead of arrogantly rejecting them with popular sound bite “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

    This was all possible with the money spend in killing and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. Talibans provided Bush an excellent opportunity to resolve Osama Bin Laden by asking them to show them the proof of Al Qaida involvement in 9/11. They promised to handover Osama Bin Laden to international court for trial. This very reasonable offer was rejected by Bush very arrogantly claiming to smoke out all the terrorists out of caves. The rest you very well know what is going on, Osama Bin Laden is more popular and has more support, Al Qaida is stronger now than it was before 9/11, Pakistan Saudi Arabia are all facing Osama Bin Laden radicalism movements.

    I am really sorry again really don’t wanted to sound that way in my previous comments.

  5. I find it supremely interesting that the answer to terrorism is economic aid, education and giving the Jordanian-Egyptian hybrids a state.

    The Middle East is the recipient of a large chunk of Western largess when we can get it to them. In addition (unfortunately) we also buy the one product that the Middle Eastern countries can produce (but not without US help and knowledge): Oil. It’s a misnomer that we are causing their economic problems.

    As far as education goes, this has not gone without a good try by civilized nations. Unfortunately, many people aren’t willing to venture into an area where the religious zealots will lop off your head for teaching children that blind faith to a death cult is a recipe for disaster for a civilization.

    The Jordanian-Egyptian hybrids were offered a state several times over the last 60 years, and have rejected it outright. In the original partition of the area known as Palestine, the original plan was for a homeland for both Jews and “Palestinians.” As recently as the Clinton Administration, the “Palestinians” began an intifada rather than have their own “state.”

    Terrorism didn’t begin with Bush. It began in the 7th Century. Americans have been dealing with this problem since Jefferson and Adams were President. It’s only now that we have had to ratchet up the attention we have to give to this wart on humanity.

  6. Hey, I have an avatar!

  7. LOL Sage, you must have posted this last comment without logging in. (see “enter the chamber” at the bottom of my sidebar, or right under the spinning yin yang ball)

  8. Ok, now I have an avatar…?

  9. Yes!

  10. Nice avatar Sage. I like it!

    QB- don’t worry about the “childish” thing. I’m glad you clarified, but I don’t like editing others’ posts.

  11. They should prove he’s not dead by shooting him in the head on a live video feed. That way they get good PR by proving he was alive when we thought he was dead (silly infidels). And we get the benefit of knowing, once and for all, that this butcher has gone on to meet his fate.

  12. If bush comes up on TV saying “proove that osama is still alive” and i were zahwahiri, id say “whatever!”, id be better off him thinking he’s dead. lol. Thats the whole point in hiding no? Cuz the ones who know he’z alive know it, and the ones who dont, wont anyway.

  13. That’s a great idea, but then the Bush war strategy would disintegrate, seeing as how he uses “the war on terror” bit to sell this disaster.

  14. Yes, really. It was and with me. We can communicate on this theme.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

  15. It is a pity, that now I can not express – I hurry up on job. I will be released – I will necessarily express the opinion.

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?

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