A new videotape “announced” on a jihadist website, on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, shows Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for the first time since October 2004. Osama is older as his eyes clearly reveal, his frame has gotten bigger, and more importantly the shape and colour of his beard have undergone a transformation. Gone is the salt-and-pepper flowing formation; instead there is an all-black neatly trimmed beard, probably dyed or a wig. Former US counterterrorism official Richard Clarke has been quoted as saying that Osama may be in Southeast Asia, the Philippines or Indonesia, where men don’t usually wear beards.
Questions: Is Osama bin Laden still alive? If so, where could he be hiding? If he is alive, why does he make an appearance so infrequently? By popping up before American elections and 9/11 anniversaries, is he in an inverted sort of way helping American politicians? Will the claim that he may have shifted based to Southeast Asia take the heat off Pakistan?