- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

It is all getting a bit thick, is it not? I am referring to the increasingly implausible claims issuing from Araby that the Rev. Osama bin Laden is alive and kicking, or belly dancing or whatever Islamofascists do by way of dance. "I want to reassure those impassioned with the jihad that Sheikh Osama bin Laden [is] in good health," an Arab broadcasting network (Middle East Broadcasting Center) reports a bin Laden associate declaring two weeks back. The associate's name is revealing. His name is Abu Laith Allibi, doubtless pronounced alibi.

This risible testimonial comes just after another of the Rev. bin Laden's colleagues affirmed that the holy creep "is in good and prosperous health." That affirmation was heard on a tape aired by al-Jazeera, the Arab television station, not to be confused with the Arab exercise salon, similarly named. Well, I am not buying into this line. I side with the respected Arabist Mark Steyn, who since March has been referring to the Rev. bin Laden as "deceased" and "a few specks of DNA somewhere in the Hindu Kush." The Rev. could no more have survived our aerial assault and military follow-up than could that other legendary survivor, Bill Clinton.

Mr. Steyn has it right. Bin Laden is dead and probably vaporized by the force the infidels showered on him. That his remains are indistinguishable from the dust of rural Afghanistan is probably the reason our intelligence agencies remain mum about what they almost certainly have deduced, to wit, the erstwhile chief blabbermouth of al Qaeda is dead. Without his body our much-maligned intelligence community is not going to stick its tender neck out and claim the old boy is a corpse. There would be so many ways to embarrass them. Surely there must be thousands of tall Arabs with dirty beards and scowls capable of being filmed standing on an American flag and giggling about the slaughter of September 11. But the Islamofascists will never deliver up their fake bin Laden to be interviewed on "Nightline" or by the perky Katie Couric. Bin Laden is dead.

Mr. Steyn, writing in the United Kingdom's Telegraph papers and in London's Spectator, adduces three reasons for his charnel judgment. If bin Laden were in Afghanistan, the Afghans would turn him in. Almost all hate him. If he were in Pakistan, the venal impulses of Pakistani sophisticates would be fetched by the $25 million bounty on his head. "In the Pakistani badlands he could perhaps rely on the fact that the $25 million bounty is too large to have any meaning to your average Baluchistani villager, unschooled in such matters as exchange rates. But those duplicitous ISI [Pakistani intelligence] guys are another matter." Supposedly bin Laden is in need of constant medical care for kidney problems (a just consequence of his playboy past spent as a student in Europe?). Mr. Steyn believes that, once bin Laden turned up in a town capable of serving him dialysis, the ISI would go for the gold.

Finally, Mr. Steyn argues that our debonair president has made such threats against the genius behind September 11 that no nation on Earth, no matter how sozzled by the Koran, would harbor him, not even Saudi Arabia. I would add one final piece of reasoning behind the argument that this Islamic Hitler has been dead for months. In light of all the perceived victories that al Qaeda has achieved since September 11, it is unthinkable that such a boastful fellow as bin Laden would remain quiet. Surely were he alive he would be a weekly presence on al-Jazeera, the Arab television station, not to be confused with the Arab jazz joint, similarly named (and pounded into dust by Hamas artillery fire sometime ago).

What "perceived victories" do I refer to? You must understand that the Islamofascist sees the world differently from you or me. What might look to you as defeats appear to him as victories, a scientific breakthrough appears as an insult to the Prophet, eternal salvation is 72 virgins whining and scheming for toothpaste. By an Islamofascist's calculations, the Rev. bin Laden set Araby on a roll: Hundreds of his galoots captured and sent to Camp X-Ray, hundreds more arrested worldwide or on the run, thousands in no better condition than he, scabs under a rock. All their state-of-the art caves have been rendered uninhabitable even by bats. Most of the world, even millions of Arabs, hates Islamic fundamentalists. The only agents of al Qaeda capable of carrying out the boss' orders are mental defectives and street ruffians such as Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" and Jose Padilla, fabulist of the "dirty bomb."

That might read like a string of defeats to you. To a fantasist such as bin Laden, it is the greatest string of Arab victories since Saladin in the 12th century. If alive, surely the Rev. would be busting his buttons to brag.

If you still doubt my claim that this lunatic is long dead consider the transcript of President Bush's press conference a few days back. Asked about whether we might apprehend bin Laden before the anniversary of September 11, Mr. Bush replied "We haven't heard from him in a long time. I don't know if the man's living or the man's dead." Twice in his press conference the president raised the prospect that the Rev. is dead.

I think the president knows.

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