This is a curious story. Why would they announce his death if he is not dead? If he died, and the death were verified, there would certainly be displays of mourning from the tiny minority of extremists worldwide — and if the media cared or dared to notice these displays, we would get some idea of how tiny that minority really is. ‘Bin laden dead,’ from Ynet News, with thanks to Gabrielle Goldwater:
The London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Friday that the site Minbar Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jama’ah declared, “We now report that the al-Qaeda organization has announced the death of Osama Bin Laden.”
One of the writers on the site, working under the pseudonym “The Mujahiddin’s Pen,” added: “Osama Bin Laden is dead… Where are the mourners? Where those who sent themselves into the towers and tall buildings?”…
Well, sir, they’re, um, dead. But anyway, I thought Mossad and the CIA pulled off that particular caper. It is getting so hard to keep all this straight.
Omar Bakri, a radical Islamic leader in London, told the newspaper that the style of the announcement seemed authentic. However, he thought it was a forgery designed to cause tumult.
Dr. Hani al-Sibai, head of the al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, said, “If Bin laden was really dead, the name of his replacement, Ayman al-Zawahari, would have been announced.”
The Egyptian Islamist Yaser a-Sari told the newspaper that Bin Laden is alive and will soon put out a new videotape. A-Sari said the purpose of the report was designed to prepare followers psychologically for the al-Qaeda leader’s death – something that could happen at any moment.
UPDATE: See also this from Reuters: “No evidence bin Laden ‘dead’“.