Dispatch: On Osama bin Laden's Trail

Searching the badlands for the world's most-wanted terrorist

Ribat Qila is at the point of a triangle where Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan meet. It is a forbidding place, a desert ringed by crimson and black mountains, where laws can be bent or broken for a few rupees, and safe passage across any frontier is easily secured. The men who pass fleetingly through Ribat Qila are smugglers, heroin traffickers, bandits and, lately, al-Qaeda fugitives.

Is Osama bin Laden among them? It seemed possible last week. This dust-blown speck on the map became the target of frantic media interest after Pakistani intelligence leaked news to reporters that U.S. special forces were...

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