From the Department of Redundancy Department: the Telegraph reports that a system used to track wild animals could help us find Osama bin Laden.  They have taken factors into account for his reported need for dialysis, his cultural affinities, and the need for anonymity, and claim to have narrowed the search to three houses.  Can a California geography professior and his team of mathematicians succeed where the CIA has not?

Using patterns of how animal species spread, the world’s most wanted terrorist can be tracked down to a town in the tribal region of North West Pakistan it is claimed.

By factoring in his need for security, electricity, high ceilings to accommodate his 6ft 4in frame and spare rooms for his bodyguards, the search can be further narrowed to three walled compounds.

According to a team led by Thomas Gillespie, at the University of California in Los Angeles, bin Laden’s location is “one of the most important political questions of our time”.

Mathematical models used to explain how animal species spread out say he should be close to where he was last spotted.

My friend Tommy Christopher (at his new digs) thinks that Gillespie could find himself a very popular Big Man on Campus if this pans out:

There’s usually nothing funny about Bin Laden, but the idea that he’s being hunted by a geography professor is a little bit hilarious.  Even better is if the guy ends up helping to capture him.  Can you imagine how much ass he’ll get in the faculty lounge alone?

Good thing Gillespie’s at UCLA instead of, say, Berkeley.  At the latter, he might find himself ostracized for tracking down Osama. No hot women for you!

For me, though, this runs to the highly speculative.  While I want Osama hunted down like a wild animal, I doubt seriously that he has left this much to instinct.  The town Gillespie suggests was well-known to the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as a mujahedin HQ.  Its proximity to the border (just twelve miles) would have made that an obvious target.  The CIA probably looked there first, and often.

Gillespie also assumes that Osama would need to blend into an Afghan culture, when Osama himself is Yemeni by culture and Saudi by nationality.  He lived in Afghanistan for a long time and could assume the cultural trappings easily enough, but the same could be said for Pakistani cultural trappings, too.  And has the dialysis rumor been established as fact?

Anything that gets us Osama sounds great to me.  I wouldn’t drop a missile on a house and kill women and children based on this analysis, though, and that’s the real question.

Tags: California