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Fake photo of dead Osama bin LadenThe story of Osama bin Laden’s death is not without its oddities.

To date, the only available photo confirming his death is fake. MSN published an earlier photo of Osama, which is an exact copy of his postmortem image. Of course the death photo is unofficial, but why hasn’t the US government published a credible photo of its own?

The official line has it that the commandos identified Osama by multiple means, including some hinted-at high-techies like facial recognition, which does not work reliably with such a heavy beard.

A hasty burial at sea is the worst way to do PR. It would have made more sense to show the corpse to journalists instead of allowing the creation of an Osama-is-alive myth.

The story of Osama’s pursuit, as told by the government, is incredible. Supposedly Obama had procrastinated since February before giving the order to assassinate bin Laden. The CIA often acts in Pakistan on flimsy evidence, targeting wrong people, so just to be on the safe side they would have acted against Osama’s likely hideout quickly.

Sending two US helicopters into a Pakistani garrison town is a strange idea. Not only are the tens of thousands people there armed, but there must be basic anti-aircraft weapons. Sending loud choppers in the middle of the night would be absurd, warning the inhabitants and bin Laden alike. Such operations are done with ground teams or bombs/missiles.

Osama supposedly lived for six years in a heavily populated area in a country where everyone knows his face. Should we believe that he never left his villa? Or that the neighbors weren’t fascinated by such a secluded nouveau riche?

Osama supposedly lived in the Pakistani garrison town through the years when his relations with General Musharaff were pretty bad. The general exerted tight control over the Pakistani intelligence service, and it is highly unlikely that the ISI protected a man who had worked to oust Musharaff.

Overall, the impression is that Osama’s death is an Obama PR trick. And if we are to believe the story, then Osama’s assassination is of little significance: he lived an extremely secluded life away from the centers of terrorist planning. Terrorist groups of Al Qaeda’s ilk will continue operating without him.

As we expected, the Israeli government suspended tax transfers to the PA in response to the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement. Subservient Jews collected some $1.4 billion annually on behalf of their Palestinian enemies, which comprises some 70% of the PA budget.

Israel thus possesses enormous power over the Palestinian government. The question is whether Israel’s rulers are willing to exercise that leverage.

We expect that the tax sanctions won’t last long. As the Palestinian economy nears collapse, the US will pressure Netanyahu and his ilk into releasing the funds under some face-saving scheme which theoretically does not benefit Hamas.

After an unprovoked NATO air attack killed Gadhafi’s son and three grandchildren, Western leaders backed away from their new policy. The British PM lied openly, claiming that NATO does not target individuals. Then what was the target at Gadhafi’s villa?

Targeting hostile rulers is immensely wise, a welcome comeback from romantic European notions going back to the Westphalia peace treaty. We’ve long advocated assassinating enemy rulers instead of waging proxy wars on them. Assad, Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and Meshaal are all easy and proper targets for missile attacks. The Western reluctance to target enemy rulers stems from affinity: the likes of Obama and Netanyahu feel closer to their fellow rulers of enemy countries than to their own citizens who are targeted by those rulers.

Unlike other analysts, we believe that Gadhafi won’t retaliate against the West for killing his family. Unlike President Bush, who invaded Iraq in part because of his grievance over Saddam’s attempt on his father’s life, Gadhafi is far too pragmatic to endanger his rule over personal issues.

May 2011
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