Monday, May 9, 2011

Will the associates of #OBL move east?

Will the discovery of OBL in a posh hill-station in Pakistan increase the probability of finding the rest of his crew members? If so, will it be optimal for the other members to relocate from their current hideout to a safer place to minimize their chances of discovery but at the risk of briefly surfacing? What is the conditional probability that they are also in eastern Pakistan, given that OBL was found in that area? Does it increase or decrease? If Al-Q initially wanted to avoid an 'all eggs in one basket' situation, then they must have spread out and chosen to hide in places comfortably far away from each other. But on the other hand, if it was 'every rat is on his own', then they may have in fact have ended up, either independently or in collusion, gravitating toward the same geographical area.

It's my 2 cents worth of arguments based on just a flimsy data point that the latter case seems likely now. That they are hiding in places where they least expect the US to pop-in unannounced (Pakistan was never a concern, it now seems). A few hundred yards from a major military academy so far away from Afghanistan must have seemed pretty safe and for just for this reason alone, the raid achieved ultimate surprise. If this is the case, then there's probably a couple more in the vicinity. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir seems like another safe haven. It's further east, and most of the terrorist camps, whose recruits so predictably hit India after the winter snow melts to open up the passes, are located there. Furthermore, the element of surprise is gone for most part. Pakistan is unlikely to welcome further chopper incursions unless they are extremely well compensated.

So an Al-Q card-carrying member who lives west of Abottabad may feel the need to head further east. If he gets into India (which is just 60 miles away from Abbotabad!) through the porous border, there's 1.2 billion people to blend into.

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