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Bin Laden Home Videos Released … Why Does the Terrorist Kingpin Look Better Than He Did in 2001?

Washington’s Blog
May 8, 2011

The Pentagon has released “home made videos” by Bin Laden, supposedly seized from the Pakistani compound in which he was killed:

Bin Laden Home Videos Released ... Why Does the Terrorist Kingpin Look Better Than He Did in 2001? PTMmbz**NzEzMGQ3MTYyM2M*ZDVkYjNmYjNiYzMxNDFkYTRkMSZvZj*w
In the newly-release videos, Bin Laden looks better than he did years ago. Specifically, this is what Bin Laden looked like in December 2001:

Bin Laden Home Videos Released ... Why Does the Terrorist Kingpin Look Better Than He Did in 2001? laden2001dec

Bin Laden December 27, 2001 video

Bin Laden was pretty ill by December 2001. As CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen – who met Bin Laden and studied him and his operation for several years – told CNN in 2002:

He’s aged enormously between ’97 and October of last year.

This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he’s really, by December he’s looking pretty terrible. But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he’s barely moving the left side of his body. So he’s clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He’s got a wound in his foot. He’s apparently got dialysis … for kidney problems.

I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape.

Indeed, the oldest – and second-largest – French newspaper claims that Bin Laden was in a hospital for kidney failure two months before 9/11. As the Guardian notes:

Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

The disclosures are known to come from French intelligence which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.

Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department.

***

Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years.

According to Le Figaro, last year he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan.

And CBS news reported that Bin Laden was ill on September 10th, being treated in a Pakistan hospital with kidney dialysis:

In addition, it is rumored that Bin Laden had Marfan Syndrome – a disorder of the connective tissue, which usually shortens the life span (Abraham Lincoln had Marfan).

As Salon noted in November 2001:

Judging by photos and the FBI’s physical records, Osama bin Laden could be a candidate for the diagnosis. He is said to be between 6 foot 4 inches and 6 foot 6, which is apparently unusual for his family. He is thin, bony and has little muscle; he weighs only 160 pounds. And he uses a cane — possibly the result of connective tissue or back problems. Other information about the leader of al-Qaida suggests he may have a heart condition. His facial structure also resembles that of people with Marfan.

“He is Marfanoid,” says Dr. Richard Devereux, a clinician who treats patients with the illness at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. “He seems to have long fingers and long arms. His head appears to be elongated and his face narrow … It’s certainly conceivable that he has the Marfan syndrome and could be evaluated for it.”

Though people have long speculated about bin Laden having Marfan, federal officials won’t answer questions about his health. “We don’t discuss the medical conditions of our enemy commanders,” says Maj. Jay Steuck, a Defense Department spokesman. And a Central Intelligence Agency spokesman says, “We don’t do unclassified medical summaries.”

***

Yossef Bodansky, staff director of the House Task Force on Terrorism, told the New York Post: “We are getting a lot of reports and rumors. By all accounts, bin Laden is not a healthy man and is under a lot of stress.”

David K. Schenker, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, agrees that bin Laden’s size is atypical for his surroundings. “I lived in the Middle East, and I never ran into anyone that tall,” he says.

***

Should bin Laden have Marfan syndrome, the stress of cave-hopping and trying to outrun Allied cruise missiles could prove deadly. “People with the disease are told not to engage in heavy exercise,” says Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University. “If Osama bin Laden has Marfan, he is in danger of sudden rupture of the aorta and sudden death.”

The guy in the newly-released videos looks healthier than Bin Laden actually looked 9 1/2 years ago, even though he sustained injury in Tora Bora, was on the run for a while, and then was holed up inside a house for years.

In 2010, the FBI released an “age progressed” graphic interpretation of what Bin laden would look like today:
Bin Laden Home Videos Released ... Why Does the Terrorist Kingpin Look Better Than He Did in 2001? ht osama age progression 100114 mn

The Bin Laden looks better in the new video than in the age progressed image in 2010 … and much better than he actually looked in 2001.

Am I saying that it’s not Bin Laden?

Not necessarily, although the CIA has previously admitted that it made fake Bin Laden videos.

But if it’s Bin Laden, it’s from a long, long time ago.

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Posted in Bin Laden, Health Care, Middle East, Television Video & Film, War on terror.

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