Dear Mr. bin Laden,
Are you OK?
One has not heard from you since October 29, 2004, when you had sent a recorded message through the Al Jazeera on the eve of the US Presidential elections.
One knows that such periodic spells of silence are not unusual in the interest of your physical security. But whenever there are long spells of silence, the rumour mills start over-working.
This had happened in the past and this is happening now, but this time, the rumours are stronger and more persistent than in the past. In the last week of April, 2005, there were frenzied rumours of your death following a posting by an unidentified person in a web site identified with the Al Qaeda network. Not much credibility was given to the rumours.
In an analysis of these rumours, the well-respected North-East Intelligence Network, a non-governmental online terrorism analysis group of the US, said as follows on April 29, 2005:
"Analysts at the Northeast Intelligence Network read, translated and reviewed the message approximately 45 minutes after it was originally posted by a newly registered poster to that forum who has virtually no other posting record. Based on the manner in which the message was posted and the status of the poster, government intelligence analysts are privately looking at the possibility that the message was deliberately posted to garner attention. Regardless of the poster or intent, it is important to note that the message, written in Arabic, does NOT claim that bin Laden is dead. Rather, the message "waxes poetic" over what is expected to happen when the al Qaeda leader dies."
I myself was inclined to feel that the posting regarding your
death might have been got made by the US intelligence as part of
its Psychological Warfare to create confusion and demoralisation
in the ranks of your followers. The rumours died down.
But doubts have again arisen after one had received reports on the sermons delivered in some madrasas of the tribal region in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the last two Fridays. In the sermons, the Mullahs have prayed to God for your good health and success against the US and Israel. There is nothing unusual in that. They were doing so even in the past.
But what is intriguing now is that their sermons also included prayers to God for the good health and success of your sons in the jihad against the US and Israel? Why suddenly these prayers for your sons?
Are you dying, if not already dead? Is something seriously wrong with your health?
Please send a message to Al Jazeera quickly through your usual handlers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. Otherwise, this will add further confusion in the minds of the already much confused Al Qaeda watchers.
Warm regards and waiting anxiously for signs of life or of confirmed death,
(Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter.)
Mr Osama bin Laden,
Care of Gen.Pervez Musharraf,
President and Chief of the Army Staff,