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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/20/09

UCLA Professor Claims Finding Bin Laden's Hideout in Pakistan

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Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali
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Osama Bin Laden is hiding in one of three big compounds in the town of Parachinar along Pak-Afghan border, claims Thomas W. Gillespie, a US professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Prof. Gillespie told the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow Tuesday night his prediction is based on  biogeographic theories and remote sensing data. Biogeographic theories are used to predict how plants and animals distribute themselves over space and over time.

He said Bin Laden's last known location in September 2001 was Tora Bora in Afghanistan and when biogeographic theories were applied, the Kurram agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) had the highest probability of hosting bin Laden.

According to Prof. Gillespie, there were 26 city islands within a 20-km radius of his last known location in northwestern Kurram. Parachinar figured as the largest and the fourth-least isolated city. Nightlight imagery also shows that Parachinar is the closest city to his last known location. 

"Parachinar has a long history of housing mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, so it most likely contains a large number of Taliban soldiers who cross over from here into Afghanistan."

Prof. Gillespie said six life history characteristics of Bin Laden were used for a systematic building search in the city of Parachinar where he may be hiding. These characteristics were: 1. He is  6'4" tall, needs tall building to live in. 2. He requires a dialysis machine that requires electric grid hookup or generator. 3. For physical protection he needs walls over three meters high. 4. For personal privacy he needs space between structures. 5. He needs more than three rooms to accommodate his body guards. 6. He needs trees for cover when outside to protect him from aerial view.

When we undertook a systematic building search in the city of Parachinar, this approach resulted in three structures that meet all six physical structure attributes, he added.

In response to a question by Rachel Maddow, Prof. Gillespie said that he has submitted his research to FBI.  

The research paper - titled Finding Osama bin Laden: An Application of Biogeographic Theories and Satellite Imagery - was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology journal MIT International Review on February 17. 

"We believe our work represents the first scientific approach to establishing bin Laden's current location," John A. Agnew, study co-author and UCLA geography professor was quoted as saying in an article published on the Scientific Blog. "The methods are repeatable and could easily be updated with new information obtained by the U.S. intelligence community."

"Based on bin Laden's last known location in Tora Bora, we estimate that he must have traveled 1.9 miles over a 13,000-foot-high pass into Kurram and then headed for the largest city, which turns out to be Parachinar," said Agnew, who is the current president of the Association of American Geographers.

The researchers ruled out cities on the Afghanistan side of the border because the country was occupied at the time by U.S. and international forces and has been particularly unstable ever since. "The Pakistan side of the border is much better for hiding because of its ambiguous political status within the country and the formal absence of U.S. or NATO troops," Agnew said.

The study pointed out that the US intelligence community has at least three agencies that have been involved in searching for bin Laden.

The National Security Agency does code-breaking and communications monitoring, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency makes maps and analyzes surveillance photographs, and the National Reconnaissance Office provides satellite imagery.

Altogether, the US intelligence community spent over $50 billion on intelligence activities last year alone. Ideally, some of this money should have been spent looking for bin Laden and the US intelligence community could make public a report based on all data collected from 2001 to 2006.

 "The three agencies mentioned above should also disprove the hypotheses that Osama bin Laden is: (1) located in the Kurram region of Pakistan, (2) located in the city of Parachinar, and (3) at one of the three hypothesized buildings," the study challenged.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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