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Big News: The Hunt For Bin Laden Is On

BIG NEWS with Dave Crampton

The Hunt For Bin Laden Is On

Well, it doesn’t really matter that Wellington lost to Southland at home any more, does it? That shocking rugby result all faded into insignificance after last weeks even more shocking terrorist attack on the financial, political and defence powers of the US. Asylum seekers, Ansett, and the NZ Aussie tri-nations test performance all faded into insignificance the very second that the first plane smacked into the twin towers, changing the world as we knew it.

As you all know, the terrorists hit two out of three – the fourth target was missed, apparently due to a riot on the plane causing it to go down in Pennyslvania, instead of hitting the White House.

Prime suspect Osama bin Laden has denied any involvement in the attacks. In a press statement, faxed to the Pakistani press by his aides, he says, “ The US is pointing the finger at me but I categorically state that I have not done this.

“Those who have done it, they have done it in their personal interests.”

Mohamed Omar. the one-eyed head of the Taliban has also denied involvement. One –eyed meaning his right eye is stitched shut as a result of a fight with the Soviets.

Last week he released a statement denying involvement from bin Laden. He is a shadowy character: During his last interview with the BBC, he sat behind a curtain with another party inches away – apparently as he did not want to hold face to face interviews with people who were not “helpful to his cause.”

But do you believe they didn’t do it The US obviously doesn’t, they are after bin Omar and will “smoke him out” if the Taliban doesn’t turn him in.

One website,, is offering a 10 million reward for information leading to the apprehension or conviction of bin Laden. Although he has a US$5 million bounty on his head, he has spent almost 20 years on the run. Some are even calling him the Antichrist. We’ll, he’s anti-American, that for sure.

He was born in 1957, the son of Mohamed bin Laden and the 17th of 57 children. He is skinny, 1.95 metres and walks with a cane. He has at least three wives, just like his dad.

He has been accused of masterminding the bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993, the 1996 killing of US soldiers in Saudi Arabia and the bombing of the two US Embassies in East Africa in 1998. That year he also issued an edict for Muslims to kill Americans “where they can, when they can”. He led by example: Total deaths from his three injustices; 1320.

Bin Laden is worth about $450m, works in a cell structure with no direct link to his followers and no hint of where he will strike next. He has been in Afghanistan since 1996 – the year the Taliban started rule - after he was forced to leave Sudan. The Taliban has “minded” him because, they say, of his role in the war efforts that led to the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Now they have taken him into hiding.

Michael Binton from The Times wrote that bin Laden sets up several sites where he could sleep, often picking one at the last minute. He has stopped using his cell phone or email and now writes everything by hand. He is known to travel in small convoys, often in a plain white jeep accompanied by his closest bodyguards, who are all Arab nationals.

He is rarely seen in public, in fact the last time he was seen in public was in February, at his sons wedding at Kandahar, which happens to be the Taliban militia’s headquarters.

Although TV watchers world wide were shocked, sad, then angry at the horror, it was impossible not to notice the jubilation of Palestinians, shown immediately after the shocking pictures of the planes slamming into the twin towers. But how many of you noticed that some of the dancing, rejoicing Palestinians wearing symbols of the country they were opposing and revelling in their misery. Yes, a LA Lakers basketball cap and an American football jersey were just two of the items they were wearing.

Now it looks like the people who have smiles on their faces could be bombed - especially those in Afghanistan. Pakistan looks likely to get off as they have indicated they will support the US. That brings an unlikely alliance between the Soviets, US, Japan, India and Pakistan. Now when was the last time these countries showed a united voice?

Only one thing could avoid a war, it seems. The turning of bin Laden over to the US. And that’s exactly what Pakistan is warning the Taliban to do. Pakistan are giving the Taliban until Wednesday to do it or risk military action led by the US. We’ll see if that happens. I think he’ll be more likely to be “smoked out” by Bush than turned over by the Taliban. Apparently 77 percent of voters in a CNN poll agree that the US should bomb Kabul if he is not turned over.

I`m not so sure that bombing innocent people is the answer to the injustice. But terrorism has to stop or this world will remain an increasingly insecure place to live.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for He can be contacted at


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