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Sep-11-2007 17:36printcommentsVideo

Afghanistan: Is Osama bin Laden Alive and Well? (VIDEO)

President Bush says it is time again to get bin Laden.

Salem-News.com
All photos by: Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - Many Americans have concluded that Osama bin Laden met his death long ago, but an Islamic Website says he published a new message this week, set to coincide with the sixth anniversary of September 11th attacks against the United States.

Now U.S. President George W. Bush is again asserting his desire to capture the elusive Al-Qaida leader. Today Bush said that the war on terrorism is not just against this particular terror network leader. Most Americans figured that out when we shifted our military emphasis in recent years to Iraq.

It should be noted however, that nobody is uncertain whether or not the new video released this week by an Islamic militant group actually featured bin Laden. In fact, the tape has only a still image of Osama bin Laden, as it it turns out. So there is no proof that this tape actually originates from bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, or "The Base," there is no way to be certain.

A documentary called "Loose Change" examines a number of inconsistencies with the FBI's portrayal of bin Laden. The program claims that the federal government's story has changed significantly since 2001. The documentary also claims that the actual bin Laden issued a statement shortly after September 11th, 2001 stating that he had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on the United States.

It certainly would not fit well with the story the federal government has maintained, and that two major wars erupted over. But Al Jazeera and other non-U.S. news groups are reporting the same thing, so perhaps bin Laden is indeed alive and well.

If he isn't alive, and since the tape "has not been authenticated," it strikes some of us as a risk to assume these are the true words of the terrorist kingpin as hundreds of media outlets have already done. Perhaps it is just one more way for the national and world media to behave in a non-challenging capacity.

The documentary "Loose Change" loosechange911.com/claims that the man represented in multiple video tape releases as bin Laden has even been recorded writing with the wrong hand.

So it is up to the public to evaluate this report and suggestion that Osama bin Laden is alive and well. It seems that the the United States and foreign press are remarkably willing to accept the word of an Islamic Website making this claim.

When I was in Afghanistan last winter, I had many opportunities to talk to Afghan citizens there about bin Laden, and learn their bottom line thoughts on this man that by so many accounts, is a dedicated enemy of the west.

What I was told by many people there is that bin Laden represents an extremely pure interpretation of Islam to most Afghan people. Osama bin Laden is not an Afghan, he is Saudi Arabian. His family is still fighting lawsuits and claims that they cut him off 14 years ago from his share of his father's inheritance. A bin Laden spokesman in Saudi Arabia also formally denounced Osama recently.

The people of Afghanistan believe that turning bin Laden in to the U.S. or Coalition military would be a bit like Americans turning over James Baker to the United Nations. Even if he is a crook, he is still tauted by the religious community as a spiritual leader, and so is bin Laden. The Taliban are Afghanistan's "religious right" in fact, placing doctrine over public policy at every bend in the road.

Reliable Hazaras Soldiers

Hazara woman in the
Afghanistan National Army

But there is one hope for ridding Afghanistan of terrorists like Osama bin Laden, and that is the Hazara population of this country.

They are an ethnic group found primarily in the central region of Afghanistan, and integrated into the ranks of the Afghan National Army. They are the most reliable people our soldiers there have an opportunity to work with, and they do not support the Taliban at all.

One reason is the fact that the Taliban "made a sport of massacring them" as one reporter put it, when they were in power. The Hazara, the only Afghan ethnic group with pronounced Asian features, has been treated harshly in Afghanistan for a long time.

U.S. soldiers say the information that the Hazaras convey is always right on target. A friend of mine at a forward mountain base at Gardez named Specialist Ryan "Vandy" Vandewalker, said the Hazaras literally saved the lives of some of his friends by alerting them that they were approaching an anti-Coalition militia encampment.

"We would have just walked up on them otherwise. They still had food cooking," Vandy said. By alerting the Americans to the presence of the camp, the Hazaras proved once again that they are supportive of the mission to rid Afghanistan of Taliban and other militias.

So one of of five distinct cultural groups in Afghanistan can be trusted almost explicitly, not bad. The Hazara support is also something our soldiers can identify, as these are the only people in Afghanistan who bear Asian features. That is a rare gift in a difficult war.

The other thing about George Bush "getting" bin Laden, is that Afghanistan is one of the most remote nations in the world. There are networks of caves that people have used for thousands of years, IED's to injure our people, and more land mines than in any other country in the entire world.

This means that when you drive a convoy of HUMVEE's through Afghanistan, you keep them on the road at all times. The land mine hazard is an ever present threat. I went to a remote village with Oregon soldiers from the 41st Brigade Combat Team to distribute humanitarian aid to the poor people who live there. At the very site they used to distribute clothing and essentials, there were white and red rocks designating a land mine field. The Afghan people seemed to pay little attention, while all Americans were careful.

My point is that taking off on the trail of anybody in this country is a difficult and dangerous task, especially when the numbers of troops who could potentially be there to bolsters safety are fighting in Iraq.

It is also important for people to realize that aircraft flying over this high elevation country are all challenged. When an airplane or helicopter is sitting on the deck at an altitude of 7,000 feet or more, the demands go way up.

I went on one mission with soldiers who said it was ridiculous that we weren't flown to our destinations in helicopters, instead driving hundreds of miles in aged vehicles through what they call "Indian Country" due to the potential of enemy contact.

Afghanistan's Army is racially and culturally merged, with the only dividing line being language. People in the north speak
Dari, while people in the south speak Pashtun. Military commanders say the system of diversification is working well.

Winning the war in Afghanistan is an important thing to do if it is possible. Most Afghans want nothing but peace. The people there have suffered immeasurably over the last 28 years, surviving if they did, the Soviet invasion of 1979-1989, and the infighting between tribal factions that happened in the immediate post-Soviet era. Then there are the jihadists who use religion as a tool to divide and the oppression of women that is a paramount issue.

It always comes back to a collision of values between the religious leaders and human rights. We must increase aid for Afghanistan; more clothing, jackets, shoes, and any and every kind of medicine.

Hospitals in Afghanistan need equipment that we cast off as scrap in America. Wood is a big commodity in this country, as all the trees of Kabul are long since gone. Fresh water is also hard to come by.

Americans have rebuilt bridges, schools, they have constructed fountains and they have provided countless thousands of pounds of food and aid, but trust me when I tell you that it is not enough.

Below are a number of videos that I posted from Afghanistan between November 2006 and January 2007. I hope they add more perspective and dimension to what I write here today, with my feet safely planted on Oregon ground.

Driving in Afghanistan- The Most Dangerous Job of All (VIDEO)

Add to My Profile | More Videos This is called "In Country" by Tim King:

This is raw footage from a patrol "outside the wire" in Kabul, Afghanistan - watch for possible bad language

Americans restore Independence Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan

______________________________

Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.

Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide with an emphasis on Palestine and Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marines. You can write to Tim at this address: tim@salem-news.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)

View articles written by Tim King




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Hazara October 8, 2007 11:29 am (Pacific time)

Hazaras are always trustworthy people. Once they know the right they would help the truth stand. The history also shows. Hazara pioneers worked well with British army. But unfortunately it is fact that those who are more reliable suffer the most. British govt. helped Pashtoons against Hazaras in history. It was the time Hazaras lost power in Afg. Before that it was funny to think any Pshtun could enter Hazarajat. But with British Cannons, Pashtuns got that heart to enter Hazarajat, Alas! I wish Pashtuns would learn to know that land never belonged to any human or group of humans. So, they would accept Hazara exisitance in Afg. I am Happy that Hazaras are minority but they are unite. Unlike Pashtuns who are majority but still fight among themselves. Hazaras are Shites, okay. What about Tajiks they are Sunnis. Why then Pashtuns fight with Tajiks??? There is no Islam beleive me. Those ignorant Talibs with their dirty smelly bosies know nothing about Islam. Actually most Muslims know nothing about islam. It is so simple rule. Islam says peace. Muslims took Islam for violence! Any way, I hope Hazaras would not be left alone to be butchered and bombarded by Talibs and Tajiks. Both of them are unreliable power lovers. Have nothing to do with Islam.


S.LaMarche; September 13, 2007 7:16 pm (Pacific time)

to Cynic; and according to the film "Loose Change", eleven of the supposed "hijackers" who were all said to have perished along with the passengers, are alive., well and employed for several airline companies and other firms around the world, as in Now! Take a look at this film and other links surfacing along with the book by Ruppert. We've been lied to, spied on and had our freedoms stolen by the very cause of it, and they are in D.C., and thanks to them we are now hated throughout the world for many generations to come. Russia is one of the largest oil producing regions in the world, the U.S. one of their main customers. They don't Need us. It's the other way around. Israel is supposed to gaurentee mid East stability at the cost of 10,000,000 bucks a day from the U.S. I must have missed something, but my read out is totally different from that of this administration of liars and thieves in three piece suits. They are clones and obvious proof of stem cell research gone amok.


S.LaMarche; September 13, 2007 7:16 pm (Pacific time)

to Cynic; and according to the film "Loose Change", eleven of the supposed "hijackers" who were all said to have perished along with the passengers, are alive., well and employed for several airline companies and other firms around the world, as in Now! Take a look at this film and other links surfacing along with the book by Ruppert. We've been lied to, spied on and had our freedoms stolen by the very cause of it, and they are in D.C., and thanks to them we are now hated throughout the world for many generations to come. Russia is one of the largest oil producing regions in the world, the U.S. one of their main customers. They don't Need us. It's the other way around. Israel is supposed to gaurentee mid East stability at the cost of 10,000,000 bucks a day from the U.S. I must have missed something, but my read out is totally different from that of this administration of liars and thieves in three piece suits. They are clones and obvious proof of stem cell research gone amok.


Henry Ruark September 13, 2007 1:45 pm (Pacific time)

Cynic et al: Can't speak to "conspiracy" in 9/11 by government et al, but can most surely point to cabal starting just before the Reagan era --and continue to do so here in Op Eds. That was start of the neocon shaping of governance, aided and abetted by corporate CEOs now involved also in shaping U.S. education by insistence on heavy-testing vs "standards for annual progress" --and guess who shapes those tests and standards ? Keep tuned, much to come...


Cynic September 12, 2007 11:14 pm (Pacific time)

Senator Robert Byrd wrote a book called, "Losing America" in which he discusses how the US Congress is now owned and controlled by large corporations. Thus, only these wealthy people can change our campain laws. I won't hold my breath. In his book "Crossing the Rubicon" Michael Ruppert examines events that led to 911. He claims that this was an inside job by the US as a reason to go into Iraq. Engineers who have studied the collapse of the towers report that only internal explosives could bring them down. All pilots were Saudis trained at special sites in the US. No connection to bin-Laden or Iraq. The whole terrorist threat was a US Government invention. Ruppert says this whole effort started back under Clinton. He suspects that previous "terrorist" attacks were insider jobs. So, where does all this leave us? Face to face with the fact that the end of oil is in sight and because we have developed a way of life based upon oil and consumption that cannot survive. So we are desparate and worried about who will own the last few barrels. Keep your eye on China and Russia and notice how they befriend oil producing countries like Venezuela, while we piss them off. The real terrorist is not in a cave in Afganistan, but right here in the White House. There is no proof that bin-Laden or Saddam had anything to do with 9ll. There is lots of evidence that proves the US Government was involved.


Sue September 12, 2007 8:10 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks Henry. I would really like to read your future OpEd. It is a whole new can of worms. It was opened long before I was of voting age. I take no responsibility!


Henry Ruark September 12, 2007 5:11 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Sue's "opened bag" starts with "corporate person-hood" by PAID-FOR "error" by Supremes in "railroad era", making possible huge dollar flood from "campaign contributions". String of past Op Eds have uncovered some-of-this; others coming will carry on same job. Oregon's major problems still unsolved stem primarily from that consequence, strong national trend begun in Reagan era, by some of same neocons still in D.C.


Henry Ruark September 12, 2007 2:27 pm (Pacific time)

Sue: You are opening up whole bag of problems...will try to summarize and suggest via Op Ed soon. Thanks for inteligent and insightful interest, all too thin here-and-elsewhere, and truly motivating force for this open channel for probing dialog.


Sue September 12, 2007 1:39 pm (Pacific time)

Don't you think we need to get rid of the $$ that is needed to run for office? Our system pretty much requires coruption just to get elected. I'm not sure a 3rd party will help until we fix the way campaigns are ran.


Henry Ruark September 12, 2007 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

Neal et al: Not only Dems lacking bone formation in spine while having plenty-hard in heads ! GOP-era for 30 yrs. helped set up situation; they equally guilty of many foundation step situations to current debacle. We need hose out whole old system. Where's 3rd Party new leadership ?


Neal Feldman September 12, 2007 9:04 am (Pacific time)

Oh ho Shrub! NOW it is time (again) to get Bin Laden, huh? "Dead or Alive", right Tex? Shrub again proves he is a 10 gallon hat on a 12 oz head. All talk no cattle and a host of similar Longhorn metaphors. Never forget that Bin Laden, like the money he spends, and like virtually all the 9-11 hijackers is Saudi Arabian. So when are we invading THERE? And I mean attack not nation build. But oh no, we are far too addicted to the oil for us to ever do THAT! Heaven forbid we ever ride a bus or a bike instead of our beloved gas guzzling SUV right? This country needs to get its priorities straight, starting with impeachment, trial and conviction of Cheney and Shrub in that order ASAP. But the dems we elected in 2006 lack the backbone. Ah well...


Henry Ruark September 12, 2007 8:14 am (Pacific time)

To all: What A-kenna points out sharpens new insights into reaction from developing nations when we allow malign corporate control of "free trade" designed to pirate away their natural resources andd natural demo-development simultaneously, in name of stockholder "profits". Documentation from history on request; too complex even for summary here, but read Op Eds, where it is unavoidable.


Henry Ruark September 12, 2007 7:35 am (Pacific time)

To all: Here, again, Tim and S-N prove the very high value of what Internet coverage can bring to our lives now. "See with own eyes" is a major principle of honest, open journalism for real community service. Did you find anything like this on print-side or website elsewhere ? With current-issue re Iraq exit-when/and/how, this helps decision process with inside information from the area.


AtueyiIkenna September 12, 2007 7:05 am (Pacific time)

Americans and Terrorism Americans should understand that the tension and panic they are experinceing what poor people in underdeveloping country passes though in a dirly bases, because of their incuation,explotation,extortion and manipulation in these unworthy poor countries, whose they distroy or terroris their traditional instiutions (Government) that have been in exitence for years. Bin Laden,Sadam and Most of African leader who are post Colonial Masters had been working for them, but now that the table has turn around for the middle East Loyalist, they are now lamenting terror!! terror!. I hope that Americans and Brithians should learn from this urgly incidents by transerting businesses in good way because if they dont Africans may join their fellow deprived people to orchestate outrage. Atueyi Ikenna Lagos Nigeria.

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