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30 Jul 2014
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Osama Bin Laden The Hunt for Bin Laden

by Andrew Hosken and Suzanne Mooney
THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OSAMA BIN LADEN?
DNA ANALYSIS
OSAMA BIN LADEN'S SKULL?
CONSPIRACY THEORY

THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN
Following the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center buildings on 11th September 2001, the US president made it clear Osama Bin Laden was public enemy number one.

In the subsequent weeks, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell all addressed the nation, reassuring Americans that no stone would remain unturned until they brought in the man responsible "dead or alive". The Taliban, the ruling power in Afghanistan, refused to hand over the world's most wanted man. The US responded with sustained military action until the Taliban folded.

The attacks were primarily targeted against Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda counterparts. In particular a bombing campaign in the Tora Bora mountains began after military intelligence confirmed Bin Laden was in the area. A similar 'predator' attack was carried out, following reports that a 'tall' military figure was travelling in a large party in the vicinity.

The US and Allied forces moved into Afghanistan to track Al-Qaeda terrorists on the ground. There have been limited face-to-face battles, but there were many bodies discovered following the successful bombing. Samples of these body parts have been sent back to the US army for analysis.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OSAMA BIN LADEN?

The leader of Al-Qaeda sent regular tapes to the Al-Jazeera Broadcast following the US attacks on Afghanistan. Following the military strikes in December, he has remained elusive. Is this because he is alive and well, and doesn't want to give clues to his whereabouts? Or is it because he is dead?

Since December the political rhetoric in the US has changed considerably. The 'hunt' for Bin Laden has now been shifted to the 'war against terrorism'. Many question why this has happened. Is this because the government know he is dead, or is it because they can't find him and are embarrassed about their shortcomings.

DNA ANALYSIS

The US army has been sending a variety of samples back to the laboratories in Washington so they can undergo DNA and anthropological analysis. The question now must be - whose remains have been found in Afghanistan?
All the samples sent to Washington are 'profiled' to give a unique DNA ID. The main problem the scientists have encountered is that there is no DNA reference sample from Bin Laden's relatives. The reference sample could then be compared to the 'unknown' samples sent in from Afghanistan.

The scientists who have been able to identify the victims of the Twin Tower attacks say that retrieving DNA from the Afghanistan samples should be relatively straightforward. Bomb attacks are much less damaging to DNA than the prolonged fire damage that occurred to the victims of September 11th. Despite the difficulty of collecting samples among the burning remains of the World Trade Centre, scientists were able to make positive identifications with almost all the samples found, some which were discovered months after the event.

The Today programme approached the US Intelligence agencies who all refused to comment on whether they had received any DNA samples from the Bin Laden family which could be used to detect Osama. The army scientists say that Mr Bin Laden could be sitting in a test tube in their lab, and they wouldn't even know.

OSAMA BIN LADEN'S SKULL?

There have been rumours that a skull has been brought back to the United States may be the head of Osama Bin Laden. Looking at bones, in particular a skull is often the first part of any forensic investigation. Unlike DNA analysis, no reference sample needs to be taken from a family. The bones can be compared to photographs and images built up on computers. The leading FBI expert is Dr Doug Ubelaker, a bone anthropologist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. We asked Dr Ubelaker if he was in possession of Osama Bin Laden's head. He would not confirm or deny, he just re-iterated that: "it is not our policy to talk about current cases".

CONSPIRACY THEORY
We spoke to senior Canadian military officers who suggested that it would be "of strategic delight if Osama Bin Laden disappeared forever", other US FBI officers told us that if the US Government did know that Bin Laden was dead it wouldn't shock them "In the past we've kept bigger secrets than this". However, many other experts believe he is either dead and buried somewhere under a ton of rubble, or is on the run probably somewhere is Afghanistan. One republican senator believes the latter theory is true, but the US government aren't doing their utmost to find him.

LINKS

Osama bin Laden - profile from News Online
Panorama - the Hunt for Bin Laden


They seek him here...
Listen - part 1 of Andrew Hosken's report (08/10/02)
Listen - part 2 of Andrew's report (09/10/02)
DNA.
DNA
the attack on the caves of Tora Bora.
Bin Laden was last located during the attack on Tora Bora.
Skull
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