we wonder whether this man truly died The last time we heard a squeak from him was on June 3 this year.
The world's most notorious terrorist outsmarted America by releasing a menacing message as Air Force One touched down on Saudi Arabian soil at the start of Barack Obama's first and much vaunted Middle East tour.
Even before the new President alighted at Riyadh airport to shake hands with Prince Abdullah, Bin Laden's words were being aired on TV, radio and the internet across every continent.
Osama in October 2001
Genuine picture: Osama Bin Laden in October 2001
It was yet another propaganda coup for the 52-year-old Al Qaeda leader. In the audiotape delivered to the Arab news network Al Jazeera, Bin Laden said that America and her Western allies were sowing seeds of hatred in the Muslim world and deserved dire consequences.
It was the kind of rant we have heard from him before, and the response from British and U.S. intelligence services was equally predictable.
They insisted that the details on the tape, of the President's visit and other contemporary events, proved that the mastermind of 9/11, America's worst ever terrorist atrocity, was still alive - and that the hunt for him must go
Fake? Bin Laden two months later, when he was supposedly dead
Yet this master terrorist remains elusive. He has escaped the most extensive and expensive man-hunt in history, stretching across Waziristan, the 1,500 miles of mountainous badlands on the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Undeterred, Barack Obama has launched a fresh operation to find him. Working with the Pakistani Army, elite squads of U.S. and British special forces were sent into Waziristan this summer to 'hunt and kill' the shadowy figure intelligence officers still call 'the principal target' of the war on terror.
This new offensive is, of course, based on the premise that the 9/11 terrorist is alive. After all, there are the plethora of 'Bin Laden tapes' to prove it.
Yet what if he isn't? What if he has been dead for years, and the British and U.S. intelligence services are actually playing a game of double bluff?
What if everything we have seen or heard of him on video and audio tapes since the early days after 9/11 is a fake - and that he is being kept 'alive' by the Western allies to stir up support for the war on terror?
Incredibly, this is the breathtaking theory that is gaining credence among political commentators, respected academics and even terror experts.
Of course, there have been any number of conspiracy theories concerning 9/11, and it could be this is just another one.
But the weight of opinion now swinging behind the possibility that Bin Laden is dead - and the accumulating evidence that supports it - makes the notion, at the very least, worthy of examination.
The theory first received an airing in the American Spectator magazine earlier this year when former U.S. foreign intelligence officer and senior editor Angelo M. Codevilla, a professor of international relations at Boston University, stated bluntly: 'All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama Bin Laden.'
9/11: Bin Laden originally insisted in official press statements that he had played no role in the atrocity
Prof Codevilla pointed to inconsistencies in the videos and claimed there have been no reputable sightings of Bin Laden for years (for instance, all interceptions by the West of communications made by the Al Qaeda leader suddenly ceased in late 2001).
Prof Codevilla asserted: 'The video and audio tapes alleged to be Osama's never convince the impartial observer,' he asserted. 'The guy just does not look like Osama. Some videos show him with a Semitic, aquiline nose, while others show him with a shorter, broader one. Next to that, differences between the colours and styles of his beard are small stuff.'
There are other doubters, too. Professor Bruce Lawrence, head of Duke University's religious studies' department and the foremost Bin Laden expert, argues that the increasingly secular language in the video and audio tapes of Osama (his earliest ones are littered with references to God and the Prophet Mohammed) are inconsistent with his strict Islamic religion, Wahhabism.
He notes that, on one video, Bin Laden wears golden rings on his fingers, an adornment banned among Wahhabi followers.
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