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April 28th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Osama bin Laden dead?

CNN's Nic Robertson reports on Pakistan's president's comment that Osama bin Laden may be dead.
CNN's Nic Robertson reports on Pakistan's president's comment that Osama bin Laden may be dead.

By Nic Robertson
CNN Senior International Correspondent

When I first heard Pakistan's President Asif ali Zardari claim Osama bin Laden was dead, my initial reaction was... Not again?

Zardari was elected last September. I met him the night the votes were counted as he celebrated at a beautiful garden party outside a sparkling palace overlooking the capital. He was charming. His aides told me I could ask one question only, that I'd get a longer interview later. That was seven months ago and I'm still waiting.

I learned then the president's team rarely give him camera time one-on-one with reporters. When faced with three of them Tuesday he appears to have inadvertently stumbled in to creating a headline he didn't intend because barely three hours later his own prime minister contradicted him. He said they have no such evidence Osama bin Laden is dead and wasn't aware of the president's comments.

Before Zardari came to office his predecessor's officials regularly briefed reporters bin Laden was dead. Why? To deflect criticism the al Qaeda leader may be hiding in Pakistan. They would tell us they had no information about him therefore he must be dead. They'd often follow that with a line about, well if the CIA knows where he is in Pakistan why don't they tell us.

President Zardari appeared to be treading perilously close to those same confusing statements. The trouble is when a head of state says bin Laden is dead it is hard to ignore. For many observers of Pakistan's often tumultuous politics the bin Laden news spike has the hallmark of a disconnect between the country's two leading men that they say is indicative of the country's faltering politics. Not that these two good friends are falling out just they seem out of step when the country and the world are looking to them for a coherent path forward against the growing menace of an emboldened Taliban.

The read I have is that if bin Laden were dead, which I hasten to add we have no evidence for at this stage, President Zardari is unlikely to be the one to break the news to the world. The al Qaeda leader still has enough supporters in this country that if Pakistan were hinted to have a hand in his demise the backlash would last for weeks.

The only caveat I offer is that Osama bin Laden is a big dark secret and any time, any day we may learn he has met his maker, but expect a few more false starts before that happens.

Filed under: Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. BeanieMan

    Terrorism is SOOO 2001. In other words, its no longer "in". It no longer has momentum. It was a passing cultural fad. Kids from the Arab street don't dream of blowing themselves up anymore. Too passe. Now nearly everyone has their own cellphone and semi-regular access to the Internet. Boys 'n girls in the majority of sexually repressive regimes can text-message to each other with no parental inteference. bin Laden has been defeated by teenage lust and sexuality!! Ain't it a fitting defeat? Nearly everybody has moved on except a fringe of nutters that was there before and that will be there later. Homeland Security can be wound down before we are bankrupted by the cost of having TSA agents frisk granma' on her way to Kansas City.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  2. practical guy

    on the whole Al Queda, let us (we americans) congratulate ourselves....for feeding him, giving him $ and arms...and we are harvesting the fruits now...let us blame ourselves for all he mess...

    April 28, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  3. roger

    benaiah go post your comments on Fox News.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm |
  4. Jason

    The best the dems have is "you lost"? The best the Repubs have is "Obama is Osama"?

    Personally... we've all lost since WWII once we moved out of our founding fathers isolationism stance. The world does not need our soldiers as policemen.

    Our materialistic society is doomed without true change. Need I tell you where the answer can be found?

    April 28, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  5. Wes

    We're fighting an enemy that has been able to defy our government for almost 20 years now. Clinton sent in cruise missles, and Bush sent the US Military... to date, this radical still isn't dead (in my view, regardless of the reports). It doesn't necessarily take the death of the leader to halt anyone's assult on our style of life as Americans... rather, it takes a radical approach to change THEIR lifestyle. As far as I'm concerned, let's play their game in a five step process... 1) Pull our troops out of the Middle East immediately and conclusively. 2) Start going green in a faster state than we've ever done before to provide ourselves with the energy we need. 3) Once our soldiers are home, send unmanned cheap ships loaded with short range nuclear weapons aboard to all shores of the Middle East. 4) Disconnect with all Middle East countries and let them know that now is the time that the United States will not be burdened with their problems, nor lend another life to, until they solve their differences. 5) Let them kill each other, as that's what they've been doing for over a thousand years anyway (haven't used a nuke yet, but now that they have them, they'll find short order in the use of them and settle the score once and for all)... give them the means to give us a TRUE reason to go clean things up, as well as reap the benefits we are so good at doing. I love this country, and I love our troops more, but at some point, this HAS to end.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  6. Jaguar

    CNN is garbage news. And Propaganda.

    Bin Laden has been dead for a very long time. And he was co-conspiractor with Cheney/Bush in 9/11.

    I can't believe they still try and pitch this boogeyman as a distraction to the economy.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  7. MK

    Idiotic comments from Benaiah and the last Gov actions or the lack of is the reason we are still talking about this guy..

    April 28, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  8. Think

    Bhutto meant to say Daniel Pearl. Watch the whole thing and listen. She was referring to her own allegations that one of the members of government in a security role was actually a terrorist sympathizer due to his contacts with several known terrorists. Omar Sheikh killed Daniel Pearl – not OBL. She clearly misspoke. And if that was edited out of the final broadcast, then we know why. In a world of soundbites, that's all we would ever hear. So don't go to 2:12, watch the entire video.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  9. G.B.

    Who cares about Osama anymore? I sure don't. I have to give some credit to Mike who posted about no "i" in their. Mike that made me laugh for 20 minutes. Thanks I needed that.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  10. someone smart

    That's true, but what a lot of people don't know is that christians di this too. Let me explain. Osama is a muslim who would be called an "extremist". One who believes in Allah (God in islamic) and acts very strongly for him. Like picking petty fights for the sake of your family. During the medival age, the crusaders werechristian extremists. They only attack and act because some one good enough with words and speechescan encourage them to do the unthinkable. Hitler made mere boys of 12 to 18 fight in the war. Almost all of them agreed willingly to die for Hitler. Some feel the same towards Osama.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  11. someone smarter

    Bin Laden has been dead for years. If he isn't, the burden of proof is on our government and the CIA (the only entities who ever push the idea that he remains among the living) to prove this. For years after 2004, he only released audiotapes. There was one purported videotape a year or so ago that provoked a backlash, as it was clearly similar to an earlier tape and appeared to have been altered.

    Our country has good reason to keep bin Laden alive in the public mind but, absent computer trickery, we can't conjure up much evidence. If the leader of Pakistan says he's dead, why don't we believe him? The CIA can't prove any differently and they've been "trying" for years.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  12. NotNowMooky

    I thought Bin Laden had retired to Texas! When did he die? Wasn't he recently seen stopping the ice cream man with Bush?

    April 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  13. hermitdave

    WELL this looks like something the major world media refused to look into before. Anyone remember when a month before they killed her, Ms Bhutto told David Frost that she knew who murdered Osama Bin Laden. Of course at the time, the Bush crime family needed Osama real bad, to keep scaring the dumbest Americans in history. So of course this news never made it into any major media.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  14. joe smith

    memory tells me, we bombed a known hideout, early-on, after 911, in or around kabul; supposedly, on good intelligence, (cell phone tri-angulation), and those in that hideout were killed. it was first thought, that bin-laden was one of those; but, a huge US defence cartel needed to make more money, thus the war was perpetuated; thankyou, mr. powell; mr. axlerod, mr.rumsfeld, mr. cheney, and of course, i think bin-laden is question about it, if not, what has the cia been doing with all our money..

    April 28, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Dennis

    Benazir Butto also said he was dead (before SHE got dead).

    April 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  16. txkboy

    That would be a relief to the sources that have been after him. As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't trust the word of any Pakistani official as far as the Taliban or AQ is concerned. The only reason the Taliban (and AQ) didn't stay in the Buner district was because Pakistan told them to back off, for now, until Pakistan got the other aid package from the US. All Pakistan wants is to get the billions of dollars to surpress the Taliban and AQ, which they have shown little results. Just enough to get the US interests to say that they are doing something. That's why they are mad we have drones flying into their nation to take on the Taliban and AQ, because they don't want to do it. Many of the Pakistani's are related to people in the Taliban or AQ. A muslim does not kill another muslim.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  17. tora bora

    W made a deal with OBL to let OBL leave Tora Bora and that the US would not go after him in exchange for no more attacks on US soil during W's presidency.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  18. someone smart

    If anyone thinks that Osama is dead, then they're wrong. A mastermind like him couldn't be killed so easily. Plus, if he was killed, wouldn't someone come to the U.S. or some Osama hating country and announce it to everyone? No, I believe he is still out there, waiting for everyone to calm down, then attack again. I for one believe it to be strange that he doesn't attack now, while everyone is in panic. I f you still think he is alive though, remember this: he probably sleeps in a cave like a baby. How? Most likelly because he sleeps with a pistol or some type of weapon. If I'm wrong, I'm Santa Clause. Please comment.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm |
  19. Dan

    This is an interesting topic.

    Benazir Bhutto; you might remember she was the leading opposition candidate of the Pakistani general election who was assassinated on December 27, 2008. She was interviewed by David Frost prior to her death, during the interview she stated that Osama Bin Laden was murdered. You can easily find the interview online by seaching under key words: Benazir Bhutto Bin Laden

    April 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  20. Nick

    You should be required to take an IQ test before you submit comments on CNN. Benaiah you are probably one of those folks who really believes that President Obama is Muslim too, aren't you?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  21. Christian

    Osama bin Laden is a CIA agent, right? Have I missed something? Jim Morrison is alive? Where am I?

    April 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  22. Billy Bob

    lol listen to you crazy republican loosers ahhh clinton this ahhhh "obama" bin laden ....... dude seriously. You should disconnect your internet so you dont make anymore ridiculous posts!! You lost, eat it!!!!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  23. Lara

    I think most of you are idiots. We need Osama dead for a few reasons... One, for the amount of people he has tortured and killed, it would be nice to get him what he deserves. Two, so that the government can step away from the Bush brigades in Iraq to show that this really is a war on terror and not a war on who has the most oil. I know that as soon as Osama is dead, someone else will step to the plate whether it be in al qaeda or in another terror group. These things are never going to go away however if we are the ones that find Osama and have him killed, it will strengthen us as a nation.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  24. Ander

    After spending a day with Sylvia Browne, the pychic, she turned the crowd and said, "Oh, by the way, Osama Bin Laden is dead."

    So what a great way to continue the war. Just keep saying you're looking for him when you know he's already gone. What a waste of many soldiers' lives because we didn't do the job right years earlier!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  25. Rich

    Americans will probably never know the truth about Osama bin Laden.
    His being alive is good for the U.S. because it supports our war of terror and is good for al Qaeda because it gives the youngster "soldiers" a "hero" to make them feel proud and fight for.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  26. Bob

    If bin Laden is smart, he's nowhere near Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Middle East in general. Shave and a hair cut, plus a business suit, add a couple of pounds (real or padded), and you could place him in the middle of ANY country with a small to moderate Arab population and he would be virtually unrecognizable. He's certainly got the cash to pull it off if he wanted to. Get fancy with a little plastic surgery, and you could set him up as a businessman in the US itself.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  27. rexsolomon

    He's dead? He CAN'T be! I saw him singing 'Blue Suede Shoes' and his sideburns seemed SO real!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  28. Yo Yo Biggie Smalls Yo

    Bin Laden died in 99' the tapes and archived footage was used to manipulate the American public into thinking that "Terrorists" known as Al Cupcakes Quada was behind 9/11 - 9/11 was established to pursue personal agenda's set forth by them crazy Texans in the 60's.

    100 years down the road, Bin Laden may not be the most hated man in the history books but more so the ruling government of 2000-2008 .....Super Nintendo,Sega Genisus ..When I was dead broke,man I couldn't picture this ..50inch screen,money green, leather sofa two rides a limousine with a chauffeur. Yo Yo YO!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  29. No such person

    There is no such person as Osama bin Laden. He was created by politicans, the military and the sheep-like media.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  30. Mike

    It is a sad state of affairs that in this article, your comments sway towards petty, unfounded, misinformed theory's about President Obama and President Clinton. They have nothing to do with this article or the points of the story... you are pathetic children... unfortunatly for the human race, the difference is you will never grow up...

    April 28, 2009 at 8:51 pm |
  31. txleadhead

    Bush gave him 7 yrs. to hide. Might be living off kickbacks from Haliburton due to the War on Terror. No bid contract in Iraq. Missing 8 Billion in Iraq. Oil revenues. Enough War Profit to spread around. That's what freinds are for.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  32. Xavier

    Benaiah, I am going to regret this but, elaborate please

    April 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  33. B-shive

    Be skeptical? How about lets be skeptical of CNN for prolonging this unreasonable fear. He's a marginalized figure. Lets talk about the possibility of Pakistan falling to the Taliban and leaving the Middle-East vulnerable to nuclear attack by some serious whack-jobs. There are thousands of Osama Bin Ladens in those tribal regions. You're wasting your time creating, like all 24 hour news stations, something out of nothing!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
  34. Pat'sAnIdiot

    And just think – If George W. Bush had done HIS job he wouldn't have allowed the largest terrorist attack on US soil to take place, started two wars he couldn't finish, and run the economy into the ground. Thanks (for all of that) GWB! Oh yeah, and thanks to all the Bush Bots like Pat who wouldn't know what to do with the truth if they knew it.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm |
  35. John in CA

    PAT: Clinton ordered Cruise missiles at Bin Laden's camp but all you Righties just squealed "Wag the Dog! Wag the Dog! He's deflecting attention from Monica!!!" Because all you all cared about was lynching him for sex.

    ROSCOE TANNER: Learn to spell your racist crap.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm |
  36. sk

    I think he is killed long time ago, you can refer to a link on you tube . Search for Banazir Bhutto interview and look for one of the BBC interviews, she clearly mentioned(just a month before her death) about the death of BinLaden, and these remarks were later edited and deleted by BBC.But some one else posted it there. That's what US and UK media is all about. They can manipulate anything to any extent , if they find some benefit for them.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:44 pm |
  37. wd

    correction. Go to 2:12

    April 28, 2009 at 8:43 pm |
  38. ray

    Does any body care about the Arabs moving in to Southern Mexico. I have a very close friend that just came from there. He was very surprised to see how many Arabs were moving into the area. Most were interested in finding ways to cross over to the US. I question myself if anyone is paying close attention to this. They are slowly infiltration our surroundings. Who knows-can they be the ones responsible for the "Swine Flu"? Who knows can Bin Laden be the one behind this or some of his cells/////////////?????????


    April 28, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  39. wd

    Go to 2:20 and watch. This part was edited out of the original BBC broadcast. Bhutto was murdered shortly after this interview.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  40. Roscoe Tanner

    What is the moron talking about in the e-mail prior to mine? This guy is dog nutz!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  41. MT

    I saw Osama bin Laden last week. He was playing golf with Elvis.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  42. Dain

    Why all the fear? Even if Al Qaeda were able to commit more acts of violence in the country, they have no staying power. Life will continue to go on as it has for the last 200 some odd years. They can bomb all they want, but the only ones who will bring down our country will be ourselves with our irrational fears.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  43. jeff bounds

    Bin Laden is so well surrounded by the arab "Good ole Boys" that I doubt that if he were dead, that anyone would know about it. Let's just hope he is..

    April 28, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  44. Pat

    And just think - IF Clinton had done his job when he had bin Laden in sight - SO MUCH misery could have been avoided. Thanks (for nothing), Bill Clinton!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  45. Roscoe Tanner

    Obama bin Laden is alive and well and lives in the Whithouse in DC. He eats cornflakes and cornpone fer his brekfast.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  46. John O'Connor

    Why does it matter whether Osama is alive or dead? Our conflict is with an ideology that espouses the virtue of violence and death to all who believe differently. While there might be a gut level satisfaction in thinking Osama has moved onto a place where he will be judged for his actions it really doesn't make a difference to us. Whether led by Osama or someone else, there are still nuts on the loose and most of them seem to have access to explosives.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  47. Mike

    Jim, there is no "I" in there either..

    April 28, 2009 at 8:26 pm |
  48. Robertr Toews

    Osama is just as dead as Fidel.

    April 28, 2009 at 8:18 pm |
  49. Benaiah

    al qaeda doesn't need Osama anymore, they have Obama...

    April 28, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  50. Jim Quist

    Let's talk about something more relevant to our fears say, "the boogeyman".

    As soon as we eradicate him from under the beds of our children the better!

    Osama bin Laden. Their is no "I" in team. Beat the team.

    April 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm |