It has been 81 months since Osama bin Laden attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, but only now Ã¢â‚¬â€ with just seven months left in his term, George Bush has become desperate to capture the terror overlord.
If you factor in the fact that Pres. Bill Clinton tried to kill bin Laden in August 1998, a case could be made that Bush should have started the search for bin Laden on his first day in office, which adds another nine months to the total. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 90 months Ã¢â‚¬â€ seven and a half years Ã¢â‚¬â€ during which bin Laden has been at large in the mountains of Pakistan.
With his polling down to a 24 percent approval rating and his legacy in a shambles, Bush is making one last Ã¢â‚¬Å“hail MaryÃ¢â‚¬Â bid to to capture the 9/11 mastermind before he leaves office.
Traveling in Europe, Bush has now enlisted the aid of British special forces in the hunt, according to the conservative Times of London:
Defense and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,Ã¢â‚¬Â said a US intelligence sourceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
The Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment have been taking part in the US-led operations to capture Bin Laden in the wild frontier region of northern Pakistan. It is the first time they have operated across the Afghan border on a regular basis.
The hunt was Ã¢â‚¬Å“completely sanctionedÃ¢â‚¬Â by the Pakistani government, according to a UK special forces source. It involves the use of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with Hellfire missiles that can be used to take out specific terrorist targets.
One US intelligence source compared the Ã¢â‚¬Å“growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missionsÃ¢â‚¬Â inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam warÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Intelligence on the whereabouts of Bin Laden is sketchy, but some analysts believe he is in the Bajaur tribal zone in northwest Pakistan. He has evaded capture for nearly seven years. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bush is swinging for the fences in the hope of scoring a home run,Ã¢â‚¬Â said an intelligence source, using a baseball metaphor.
A Pentagon source said US forces were rolling up Al-QaedaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s network in Pakistan in the hope of pushing Bin Laden towards the Afghan border, where the US military and bombers with guided missiles were lying in wait. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are prepping for a major battle,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
The main operations in Pakistan are being undertaken by Delta, the US army special operations unit, and the British SBS.
Special forces are being sent to capture or kill Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters based on intelligence provided by the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and its US counterpart, the Security Coordination Detachment.