Originally created 09/01/02

The hunt for Osama



The past year's fever for nabbing Osama bin Laden has turned to the chilling possibility he may never be found.

In many ways, not knowing his fate is worse than seeing his ugly mug in fresh, taunting video footage. At least then we'd know. If bin Laden is never found, dead or alive, his legend and popularity are sure to grow in the misguided neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

Military officials in March held a "firm belief" that bin Laden had been wounded in the Tora Bora bombing - perhaps even twice. More recent speculation has put top al-Qaida operatives in Iran, and bin Laden perhaps ensconced in rugged northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border.

If he is alive and well, why haven't we heard from him? Maybe he's more on the run than we know.

While it's critical not to personalize this war on terrorism too much - we've got plenty of bin Laden types to worry about - it is vital that the final disposition of the world's worst terrorist be discovered at some point.

We don't need him haunting us from either cave or grave.