Dead or Alive?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by bengalraider, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    Dead or Alive?
    Five world leaders who may or may not still be with us.
    BY JOSHUA E. KEATING | FEBRUARY 4, 2010

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    HAKIMULLAH MEHSUD

    Location: Pakistan

    Last appearance: Last video released Jan. 9. Audiotape released Jan. 16.

    The evidence: U.S. drones have had a number of near misses with the Pakistani Taliban leader, who generally releases a videotape after a failed strike to taunt his pursuers. But after drone strikes aimed at Mehsud on Jan. 14 and 17, White House officials say they are "95 percent" sure that he was killed. The Taliban denies that Mehsud was killed but has offered little proof -- only a short audiotape. They have declined to provide further evidence of Mehsud's existence, saying they don't want to make him vulnerable to spies. However, reports indicate that the Taliban leadership recently met to choose Mehsud's successor. There have also been secondhand reports that a funeral was held for him last week. Despite the contrary evidence, at the time of this writing the Taliban continues to maintain that Mehsud is alive. "All the reports regarding his death are propaganda," a spokesman told CNN.

    If he was indeed killed, he would be the second Pakistani Taliban leader -- after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud -- to meet his maker in only six months.
     
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  3. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    UMARU YAR'ADUA

    Location: Saudi Arabia
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    Last appearance: Last seen in public Nov. 23. Heard on BBC radio on Jan. 12.

    The evidence: Nigeria has been without a president ever since Yar'Adua left the country to seek treatment for what is thought to be a heart condition. Although Yar'Adua's cabinet, led by vice president and acting head of state Goodluck Jonathan, claims to be in contact with him, that has not satisfied opposition lawmakers, who have called for the president to either return home or step down.

    Rumors have been flying in the capital, Abuja, with the opposition accusing the government of forging his signature on legislation. One newspaper also reported that the president was brain damaged. To dispel the chatter, Yar'Adua, or at least someone who sounded like him, gave a phone interview to the BBC last month saying that he was receiving treatment and recovering. Unsatisfied, opponents have launched a constitutional challenge to try to force him to transfer power. The divided cabinet is likely to decide in the next few days whether to remove Yar'Adua from office.

    Unfortunately, the last two months have been particularly eventful for Nigeria, with religious riots, a new outbreak of violence in the Niger Delta, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempted terrorist bombing; and the country's political vacuum isn't helping matters.
     
  4. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    FIDEL CASTRO

    Location: Cuba
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    Last appearance: Video released in August 2009

    The evidence: The former Cuban leader has been the subject of death rumors ever since his health started to turn in the mid-1980s, thanks in no small part to an exile community in Miami that would be more than happy to see him go. The rumors intensified after he was hospitalized with intestinal bleeding in 2006. Cuban-American celebrity blogger Perez Hilton caused a stir in Little Havana the following year by publishing the "scoop" that Castro had died. Photos claiming to show a dead Castro have also made the rounds on email.

    Castro formally stepped down in 2008, leaving power to his brother Raúl, but is thought to still be active in devising policy. And despite his reported death, the former president appears to be staying busy, penning regular, widely scrutinized columns for the state-run newspaper Granma, and meeting with other Latin American leaders. Castro wrote in early 2009 that he most likely has less than four years to live, and his friend Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, has said that he is unlikely to ever be seen in public again.
     
  5. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    KIM JONG IL

    Location: North Korea
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    Last appearance: April 2009

    The evidence: North Korea's already reclusive leader has largely disappeared from public life since suffering a stroke in August 2008. Kim was conspicuously absent from public events in late 2008, and photos released by the North Korean government showing the Dear Leader healthy and meeting with troops were shown to be fake by the London Times.

    A very frail-looking Kim did make a public appearance (above photo) last spring to be sworn in for a third term in the North Korean parliament. South Korean intelligence believes he's suffering from pancreatic cancer, but a recent best-selling Japanese book alleges that Kim died of diabetes in 2003 and has been played by a body double ever since. The book's conclusions were dismissed by other scholars, but with so little information to work with, it's hard to prove anything definitively.
     
  6. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    OSAMA BIN LADEN

    Location: ???
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    Last appearance: Most recent audiotape released Jan. 29

    The evidence: There have been persistent rumors of bin Laden's death ever since the 9/11 attacks and his reported escape from Tora Bora. Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari have said they think bin Laden has been killed, though top U.S. intelligence and military officials have gone on record to say that he's somewhere in the tribal badlands along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    If the terrorist mastermind is alive, he's not doing much to help his case. While there have been dozens of audiotapes purporting to be of bin Laden released in recent years, al Qaeda hasn't released a video of him since he appeared in 2007 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of 9/11 (and it was unclear when that one was actually recorded). Some experts think bin Laden suffers from kidney failure and is on dialysis, but others dispute that analysis.
     

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