UCLA professor explains why he thinks he's found Osama bin Laden
David Edwards
Published: Wednesday February 18, 2009

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It's a question many are still pondering: Where is Osama Bin Laden hiding? Rachel Maddow talks to UCLA geography professor Thomas Gillespie, who might have the answer.

"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," The Telegraph reported. "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."

The article added, "Their research published in MIT International Review also concluded he should also be in a large town with a similar culture to Afghanistan where he can remain largely anonymous. The most likely candidate is in Parachinar, 12 miles inside Pakistan, which housed many mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s."

Maddow asked Gillespie, "Now, what else about that city is useful in terms much finding where he might be? What else do you need to know about what kind of place he could be hiding in?"

"Well, that's a great question," Gillespie said. "Once you get to this point we have a city picked out, the next thing is we use life history characteristics of Osama Bin Laden to figure out a structure that matches his life history characteristic."

Gillespie continued, "So for instance, the man is 64. Obviously, we have to look for buildings over 64. He needs electricity for dialysis machine. We selected buildings within Parachinar that had electricity. We looked at things like protective structures so you can see on this one, there is a wall around it. You can actually see turrets on this one."

"And then, we looked to other things like privacy," Gillespie added. "And in general, finally, we looked for - you know, there has to be a tree. Because if he goes outside, Im sure his positive that people can look down on him. So when you apply these life history characteristics for every building in the city of Parachinar, three popped out as being, you know, places where, hypothetically, he could be. And this proposes a hypothesis that can be tested and rejected."

Maddow asked, "In terms of testing the hypothesis, anybody in Pakistan reading your study and knocking on the door of any of these buildings since this came out?"

"Well, thats a good question," Gillespie said. "I guess they have a chance to win $25 million if they do go in there and take a look."

Gillespie's study was published by the MIT International Review and is available here (pdf).

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 17, 2009, full transcript here.

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