As remote as it is, I shudder uncontrollably at the thought of Bin Laden being taken alive by the Obama administration.

ISLAMABAD — After a prolonged lull, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a series of covert operations in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan following strong tip-offs that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing the area in the past few weeks for high-profile meetings in militant redoubts.

The US has been on Bin Laden’s trail ever since he fled Afghanistan when the US invaded the country in 2001 to oust the Taliban, but the 54-year-old with a US$50 million reward on his head has always remained several steps in front.

Asia Times Online has learned that decision-makers have put a lot of weight on the information on Bin Laden’s movements as it has come from multiple intelligence agencies, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. For at least two years, little credible news has emerged of Bin Laden’s movements and motives. Now, intelligence officials believe they have top-grade accounts as they come from the inner circles of militant camps.

Officials are said to be “stunned” by the visibility of Bin Laden’s movements, and their frequency, in a matter of a few weeks in the outlawed terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the most unprecedented reports about him since he evaded the US in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

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