I hate to be a party pooper.  Nor am I natural believer in conspiracy theories. I tend to subscribe to the ‘cock up’ rather than ‘conspiracy’ view, and I’ve rarely been disappointed.

But the trouble is that I can’t quite believe that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a firefight. For what it’s worth, I haven’t believed that he has been alive for some time either.  Of course it hardly matters what I believe, but the fact that I have some doubt about the events being played out before us suggests that there may be others. The big question is why so few other journalists are asking themselves the same question?

Bin Laden became ‘enemy number one’ for the United States, following the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. He was believed to be the evil mastermind behind a plan responsible for the murder of thousands of civilians, including, as it happened, a number of Moslems.

It was always going to be difficult to martial a national war effort against one man. But Osama Bin Laden not only became the figurehead both for the US and western response to an upsurge in Islamic fundamentalism, he also milked the global reaction to him for his own twisted ends. Hence the infamous ‘Bin Laden tapes’ that were periodically sent anonymously to al Jazeera Arabic TV.  These tapes would purport to carry the words or grainy images of this mediaeval obscurantist, ranting and threatening. For a while he reminded me of ‘Greenstein’ in George Orwell’s 1984. Each day, in the Orwellian nightmare that was ‘Airstrip One’, the workers came to violently denounce Greenstein – who was actually supposed to represent Leon Trotsky – in the ‘six minute hate’.

Bin Laden, certainly up until the invasion of Iraq – was the voice and face of militant extremism. But when did you last hear anything from him, or anything about him? Wasn’t Bin Laden supposed to be desperately ill a few years back? Isn’t it possible that he died some years ago, either of sickness or in the bombing of Tora Bora?

Until we see pictures, until we see DNA evidence, it is difficult to accept that Bin Laden is dead, or that he did not die some years ago.  In any event if he was killed a couple of days ago wouldn’t it have been preferable to put him on trial? If it was known where he was hiding out, why didn’t Special Forces go in and capture him? After all that has apparently happened in his name, don’t we deserve to know why and how he set about his global jihad? And what of the families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks on the United States? Shouldn’t they have an opportunity to learn more about what motivated this man, and what it was that drove him and others to these terrible acts?