Bin Laden-Taliban Clash Poses U.S. Dilemma

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Would Washington prefer Osama Bin Laden in a U.S. courtroom, or isolated and ineffective in the wilds of Afghanistan? That dilemma may be looming for U.S. officials, following intelligence reports -- cited in Thursday's New York Times -- of a falling-out between America's most wanted terrorist and his Taliban hosts. Although the Taliban refuse to hand him over directly, U.S. pressure may lead them to squeeze him out of Afghanistan, giving Washington a better shot at snaring him.

Not everyone in Washington wants Bin Laden captured, however, according to the Times. Some officials believe it may be better for the Taliban keep Bin Laden tightly boxed in, blunting his effectiveness as a terrorist threat without provoking fresh anti-U.S. attacks that might follow if he's turned into a martyr. "Some European governments tend to favor this type of approach," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "France, for example, has often made political deals to shackle known terrorists rather than demanding their extradition -- they're very sensitive about taking actions that might provoke further attacks." But what works for Paris could be a little too subtle for Washington, particularly after Americans saw scores of people killed in attacks on two of their embassies.