Does Osama bin Laden Still Matter?

As the quest for bin Laden founders, one of the few Western journalists to have met him argues that al-Qaeda's leader may be poised to strike again

Abbas / Magnum

Although his standing among Muslims has fallen, bin Laden still shows up in popular iconography, as in this image on the back of a truck in Indonesia.

Does Osama bin Laden matter anymore? You could be forgiven for thinking he doesn't. In recent months, an impressive cast of terrorism experts and counterterrorism officials around the world has coalesced around the notion that al-Qaeda's leader is no longer an active threat to the West. They point out that he has not been able to strike on U.S. soil since 9/11 or in Europe since the London bombings three summers ago. In Iraq, his most successful franchise operation is on the ropes. Across the Muslim world, opinion polls suggest his popularity has faded, and many of his early...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!