I Found OBL Years Ago
For nearly ten years, no one could find him. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, more blood spilled than one could ever imagine, all in search of one person.
Yet Osama Bin Laden was everywhere — on t-shirts, packaging, painted on trucks, you name it. Around the world, Osama’s image had become as recognizable as Mickey Mouse.
In 2006, I became intrigued by the notion of so many people searching yet not finding Osama Bin Laden, producing a photo essay titled “Where is OBL?“, focusing in Indonesia where I was living at the time, viewing this phenomena from the perspective of how well-marketed, clearly visible and how common it is for Osama to pop up out of nowhere. Even in areas like Indonesia, where the vast majority of the population is just like you and me: non-confrontational and just living our lives.
Here are a series of images where I’ve seen Osama:
I saw Osama Bin Laden everywhere.
As events unfolded late in the evening of May 1, I began looking in the archive for other places I’d seen Osama…for example, here on a roadside shop of a sign maker in Tanzania:
And throughout Pakistan, Bin Laden was indeed always there, like here at a October 2001 rally in Peshawar:
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(iPhone and iPad)
Even more wacky, Osama — along with flying missiles, jet fighters and tanks — on a package of mint flavored pan masala or beetle nut I found in a roadside shop at the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan near Quetta back in 2003:
Yet it took until this past Sunday to realize he was in a fairly nice home in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Some may think we’ve reached a closure in this decade-long period of our collective humanity. In some ways, we have. In other ways, maybe not completely. Only reflections upon history along with the elapse of time will tell.
Will close with words from Martin Luther King Jr., reminded to me from countless repostings on Facebook over the last 48 hours.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence and toughness multiples toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” ~ Martin Luther King