Dead or Alive

The US has issued a $1 million bounty for Hamza Bin Laden, son of Osama. It’s not really a lot for Hamza – his father had a $25 million price tag – but he is only 30 so he has time to get the price up. (At least until the satellites find him and the drones zero in.)

The US has always loved a good wanted poster ever since the days of the Wild West and right on through the roaring thirties with the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Baker and John Dillinger. The rest of the world seems to like it too: the story has made headlines and front pages all over the world. But, by contrast, the burning questions in the intelligence world are: why him – and why now?

Spying Today sources in the US report that this move has been driven by officials at the White House for two reasons. In the first place, President Trump has always been jealous of ex-President Obama’s sheer good luck. In Trump’s eyes, President Obama just happened to be in the right place at the right time when Osama Bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbottabad was finally found. (Naturally,Trump overlooks the fact that it was a gutsy call by Obama to send special forces into someone else’s sovereign territory on the flimsiest of evidence). Imagine if Donald Trump had been the one in the Oval Office at the time? He would never have let anyone forget it. There would probably have been a statue commissioned to stand in front of the Capitol building.

In the second place, with Presidential elections on the way and with his border wall stalled, Trump has been trying to look like a man who can get things done. In recent weeks he has even tried to make a big thing out of “crushing” Daesh in Syria. (Overlooking the fact that most of the hard work was done before he even arrived). He has been giving reporters on Air Force One a countdown of how much territory Daesh have left before they are wiped out: 5%, 4%, etc. But White House press advisors have apparently decided that this topic isn’t playing as strongly as they would like. You see, for Trump’s core supporters, Syria is just too damned far away. And besides, Daesh may have committed atrocities in Europe, but they haven’t really hit the good ol’ USA.  So likely Trump voters are not much interested in the subject (other than the fact that they would like to get the job done and get the troops out.)

However, according to White House analysts the American people DO remember Osama Bin Laden and they DO hate al Qaeda. So when the call went out for a good, tub-thumping headline, putting Hamza in the crosshairs with a giant price tag on his head seemed like the perfect answer. The guy even married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 terrorists who destroyed the Twin Towers. Hamza could hardly have made himself a more perfect object of hate if he had tried.

So now America has a new Public Enemy No.1. (Yes, that should really be Ayman al-Zawahiri, but no one in the US really cares about him). The tag may not take, but for the White House it is at least worth a try. As for the timing, well you really don’t have to look much further than Trump’s failure to secure a deal with Kim Jong-un in the recent peace talks in Vietnam. This made Trump look weak on two counts: first, he always promised that he was the man who could “do the deal”. He can’t. Second, the talks took place in Vietnam. This has helped to remind people that there was a war that Trump ran away from on a flimsy excuse that even his own attorney has just testified he could find no evidence for. Trump is starting to look like a failure and a wimp. That doesn’t play well down in Redneck world.

So how do you make him look tough? Simple. Give him a new adversary. The word from Washington is that despite the official line that Hamza could be anywhere, the US agencies actually have a pretty good idea where he is currently located. Wouldn’t it be a happy coincidence if he were taken out in the run-up to the forthcoming Presidential election?

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