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Osama Bin Elvis

A story over the weekend pinpointing the location of Osama Bin Laden in Chitral, a remote, snow blanketed valley high up in Pakistan's side of the Hindu Kush, has triggered another round of speculation on the whereabouts of the fugitive terrorist chief.

James Gordon Meek, the estimable Washington correspondent for the New York Daily News, reported March 14 that the manhunt for bin Laden "has zeroed in on Chitral's stunning peaks and deep valleys."

"Six U.S. and foreign officials confirmed to The News that northwestern Pakistan's impenetrable Hindu Kush mountains - which boast some of the world's tallest climbs - in the Chitral region have been eyed as Bin Laden's hideout since 2006 by Osama hunters aiming for the big kill," Meek wrote.

"A lengthy review of evidence, including recent Predator fly-bys, Bin Laden's tapes since 9/11 and interviews with three dozen experts on Al Qaeda, Pakistan and special operations, point to these vast mountains as the terror chief's most likely haven."

Meek's story drew little attention here -- Chitral has been fingered before -- but it excited news sites abroad, especially in South Asia.

But without Osama cornered in Chitral - or anywhere else -- the terrorist kingpin's whereabouts remains little more than a guessing game.

"All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama bin Laden. But tell that to the CIA and all the other misconceptualizers of the War on Terror," scoffs intelligence expert Angelo M. Cordevilla, in the March issue of The American Spectator.

"Seven years after Osama bin Laden's last verifiable appearance among the living, there is more evidence for Elvis's presence among us than for his," Cordevilla continues.

"Hence there is reason to ask whether the paradigm of Osama bin Laden as terrorism's deus ex machina and of al Qaeda as the prototype of terrorism may be an artifact of our Best and Brightest's imagination, and whether investment in this paradigm has kept our national security establishment from thinking seriously about our troubles' sources."

Cordevilla argues that the lack of verified Bin Laden sightings in recent years, plus expert audio and visual analyses of tapes attributed to him since, strongly suggests that the author of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks is dead.

It's not the first time Chitral has been fingered as Bin Laden's hideout.

After another video attributed to Bin Laden surfaced in 2006, speculation was rife about his presence in the remote valley, once a hiker's paradise.

But Michael Scheuer, a former head of the CIA's now disbanded Bin Laden unit, dismissed reports that the spy agency was zeroing in on Chitral.

"I think they're blowing a little bit of smoke," he told CBS. "They have to say something now that he is back in the public eyeA story over the weekend pinpointing the location of Osama Bin Laden in Chitral, a remote, snow blanketed valley high up in Pakistan's side of the Hindu Kush, has triggered another round of speculation on the whereabouts of the fugitive terrorist chief.###

Jeff Stein can be reached at jstein@cq.com. Go to his daily SpyTalk blog at CQ Politics.com for more on this and other national security topics.