One Man's Private Jihad

Osama Bin Ladin, the main suspect in the East Africa embassy bombings, has been linked to the World Trade Center explosion and other terrorist acts aimed at Americans.

As far as other actions are concerned, "Someone might suggest something and Bin Ladin might say, 'yeah,' " says a former CIA Middle East analyst. "A lot of these [terrorist acts] are cooked up ad hoc. And while I believe some of Bin Ladin's communications have been intercepted, part of what makes him so dangerous is that he's so low-tech and his people are so scattered. Communications for the planning of this were probably innocuous channels--letters, innocuous-sounding phone calls from relatives' houses."

The apparent confession in the embassy bombings appears to have clarified things considerably, however. According to Monday's Washington Post, Mohammed Sadiq Howaida--picked up for using a phony passport on a flight in from Kenya--has not only confessed to a role in the bombing, but has told authorities he was acting for Bin Ladin. Larry Barcella, an ex­assistant U.S. attorney who specialized in terrorist cases, predicts relatively quick indictments for Bin Ladin and his associates.

There is, however, the issue of apprehending Bin Ladin, whose remote location in Taliban territory does not lend itself to easy warrant service. In the meantime, national security expert Armstrong offers a suggestion: "The CIA might do better to figure out what the U.S. could do to support our friends without making regimes so ostentatiously corrupt that they end up giving credence to Bin Ladin."

Research: Brooke Stroud, Jennifer Del Medico

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