Don't know if Bin Laden is alive or dead: foreign policy expert
By Peter Duveen
PETER'S NEW YORK, May 2,
2008--A scholar from a major American think tank said today it is
not known whether Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian businessman and
religious leader portrayed by the American government as being the
impetus behind the events of 9-11, is still alive.
"It is possible that he is dead. We just don't know," said Richard
Weitz, a senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Hudson Institute,
in response to a listener's question on the program Washington Journal, aired on the cable news network C-SPAN.
Bin Laden is repeatedly credited by the U.S. government with inspiring the Al Qaeda movement to
carry out the 9-11 attacks. "There was a lot of good evidence" that Al
Qaeda was involved in 9-11, Weitz said, adding that it had claimed
responsibility for the acts.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, two commercial airliners collided
with each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center complex in New
York City. Within hours, the buildings and a third nearby office
tower unexpectedly collapsed into piles of rubble and
dust. Another plane was said to have collided with the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C.,
although no clear videos have been publicly released confirming that
event, while still another airliner was said to have crashed in rural
The government contends that the events were carried out
by a team of 19 hijackers belonging to the Al Qaeda network.
Others suggest that the U.S. government staged the attacks to justify a
wide-ranging foreign policy agenda that included the invasion of
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran, with the primary objective of
securing oil supplies for the United States and the accompanying revenue streams for U.S.
The government is currently stonewalling a freedom of information request related to the matching of parts and
serial numbers for positive identification of some of the aircraft
alleged to have been involved in the crashes.
Soon after the events of 9-11,
the United States attacked Afghanistan, which it claimed was a haven
for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. In 2003, it invaded Iraq, ostensibly to
prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons and using
stockpiles of chemical weapons. A post-invasion search of the
country, however, detected no substantial evidence supporting
either allegation. America continues to threaten Iran and Syria with
possible invasion, charging that they are attempting to develop nuclear
weapons and that they assist armed groups that oppose American and
Israeli occupations in the region.
Weitz, whose focus is Afghanistan and Pakistan, admitted that there
were probably ties between Al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence before
9-11, and that Pakistani intelligence had ties with the United
States during the same period. He stopped short, however. of affirming
a direct tie between the United States and Al Qaeda pre-9-11, although
he did not conclusively deny such a link. "I don't think there is a
direct connection between the two," he said.
Weitz said the most immediate threat Americans must deal with was a
"terrorist strike within the United States," but also said Al
Qaeda's capability to launch such a strike had been reduced.
"They probably don't have the opportunity to launch attacks in the United States" the way they did before September 11, he said.
Although he recognized that the United States was seeking more
international support for its efforts in Afghanistan, Weitz said that
Israel's participation would be a net minus. "It would look terrible,"
he said. "I just don't think Israel is the right ally for this purpose."
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