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Loss leaders
Enemies, a Love Story
Osama’s Ambassadors in Washington

That’s the unfunny thing about the likes of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, alleged allies of the United States in the equally alleged war on terror: They’re always in the know about the winter homes and ClubMed habits of Osama bin Laden and his Islamocrats, but they never seem to do anything about it. Yesterday Pakistan’s Generalissimo Musharraf (who was on an extended three-way date with George Bush and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan figurehead president and prisoner of his own country) told the London Times that he knew for sure, with cross-his-heart-and-spit-on-the-Book-of-Ezekiel certainty, that Osama bin Laden was alive and well and living—unlike Jacques Brel in Paris—in the eastern province of Kunar, “possibly with the help of an Afghan warlord.” “It’s not a hunch,” he told the paper. “Kunar province borders on Bajaur Agency. We know there are some pockets of al-Qaeda in Bajaur Agency. We have set a good intelligence organisation. We have moved some army elements. We did strike them twice there. We located and killed a number of them.”

Of course Musharraf lodges Osama just across the border in Afghanistan. Wouldn’t want to have him lollygagging around on Pakistani soil for the ISI, the Pakistani secret service that doubles up as the Taliban’s travel agent and Osama’s limousine service, to take yet one more hit from its critics. There was, at any rate, always room for a good laugh about it all—until a report by Britain’s Defence Academy, a Rand Corporation-like think tank that advises the British Ministry of Defence, which “describes the West as being ‘in a fix’” in Iraq and Afghanistan, “and includes a savage attack on Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI. […] The research paper blamed the ISI for indirectly supporting terrorism and extremism.” That’s like directly blaming the Saudi Arabian government for funding 90 percent of Islamocrats’ activities around the world: It doesn’t require a leap of faith, just a couple of fact-connectors.

Back in Washington, Musharraf and Karzai were full of thank-you-very-muches before their munchy dinner with Bush, but they refused to shake hands, refused to look each other in the eyes, refused to play. We can only assume that Osama, watching the proceedings on television from his Musharraf-subsidized cave, chuckled twice and dipped his Addison-diseased finger in a bag of salt for a taste of the stuff his nemeses keep pouring into their own wounds, unassisted.

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