Shell Games

Before going on I must point out that what I am about to say it pure speculation. Despite having an Arabic name I was born and raised in the United States (as were both my parents and three of my four grandparents). I don’t speak or write any language other than English and the few bits and pieces of French I remember from high school. To the best of my knowledge I have never been questioned by the FBI. And despite certain hostile feeling towards my ninth grade algebra teacher, I have never been accused of trying to incite a Jihad.

Having said that, consider the following.

Staying completely ignorant of the current “War on Terrorism” is almost impossible with the daily five page special in the newspapers. The round the clock CNN coverage comes complete with constant headlines crawling across the bottom of the screen with helpful bits of information such as “Fighting continues in Afghanistan,” “FBI searching for source of Anthrax,” and “CNN headline crawler graphics still up and running.” While I don’t spend every waking moment obsessed about how things are going to turn out, I did have a rather disturbing random thought today: What if Bin Laden is not in Afghanistan as the moment?

The world is a very big place, and Afghan caves are only one of many places where someone could hide. It’s quite possible that Bin Laden made alternate living arrangements before the September attacks. It would serve his cause to be living somewhere else once the military campaign begins. It seems reasonable that a country like Iraq would be willing to quietly take him in just to make the United States look bad. Here is how the conversation between the two leaders might have gone, with the exception that they probably wouldn’t be speaking in English.

Saddam: Hello, Saddam Hussein speaking.

Bin Laden: Mr. Hussein, it’s Osama here. How are things going over there in Iraq?

Saddam: Osama Bin Laden? THE Osama Bin Laden? Boy, I’ve heard a lot about you. Seems like you have built up quite an impressive terrorist operation over the past couple of years. So, I just HAVE to know– were you the one who bombed those US embassies in Africa? And the attack on the U.S.S. Cole? I have to admit that was pretty damn cool.

Bin Laden: Well, I don’t like to brag….

Saddam: Come on, it’s me, Sadam—I just have to hear it from you first hand. I promise, I won’t tell anyone else.

Bin Laden: OK, yes, that was me. You are making me blush here Sadam. Listen, I have a favor to ask you. I was wondering if I could crash at your place for a while.

Saddam: What’s the matter—is Afghanistan not cool enough for you anymore?

Bin Laden: It’s not that. I am going to play a little trick on the United States, and I need to lay low for a few months.

Saddam: Sure, come on over—stay as long as you want. I’m all for making those guys look bad. I’m getting pretty sick of them bombing Iraq. Okay, maybe in retrospect we shouldn’t have invaded Kuwait, but for Allah’s sake, that was 10 years ago. They really need to get over it and go home—the party is over.

Bin Laden: Thank you so much Saddam. This really means a lot to me. But I do have to warn you—if everything goes as planned, the US will so want to rip me a new a-hole. Possibly two or three. When they find out where I am it could get ugly.

Saddam: Ah, don’t sweat it my friend. They have been trying to kick my ass out of the country for the past decade. It always reminds me of that old Elton John song.

Bin Laden: Crocodile Rock? I never understood that one. Why does he want to dance with this animal? It’s not cute like a puppy or kitten.

Saddam: No, silly. The song “I’m Still Standing.”

Bin Laden: Ah, I understand you now. I’m going to pack up a few things and slip on over tomorrow night. But, remember, my plan will only work if everyone thinks I’m still living in my cave over here. So if anyone asks just pretend you don’t know anything.

Saddam: No problem. I’ll set up the guest bedroom and if anyone asks you are my cousin Mohammed who is visiting from out of town. Nobody will think twice about it.

Bin Laden: You are the best. I’ll see you tomorrow. We can sit down with a nice cup of tea and I’ll explain my plan of mass destruction and global religious warfare.

Saddam: Sounds like a plan. See you then Osama.