So says author Stephen Tanner in an interview with CNN’s Afghanistan Crossroads:
Osama bin Laden – remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?
Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the killing of two key Taliban commanders and an increase in drone attacks.
But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.
“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.
Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.
“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.
Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI – if not the Pakistani government – may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.
Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.
“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”…
[continues at CNN’s Afghanistan Crossroads]