Up until Navy SEALs killed him in Abbotabad, Pakistan on May 2, Osama bin Laden was undoubtedly the world's most-wanted terrorist. But, according to a Reuters report today, he wasn't exactly living up to that title for the last six years of his life. U.S. officials tell Reuters that, based on circumstantial evidence from bin Laden's compound, the "last successful operation" the al-Qaeda leader oversaw was the group's 2005 suicide bombings of London's transit system. Bin Laden hadn't been personally linked to the attacks until recently.
So what explains bin Laden's six-year dry spell? Had he become a mere figurehead, holed up in his compound watching himself and President Obama on TV (see above), or was he simply failing to carry out attacks? The latest assessments from U.S. and other Western officials suggest the latter theory. Reuters notes that bin Laden appears to have had advance and perhaps detailed operational knowledge of an unsuccessful London-based plot to bomb U.S.-bound flights in 2006 and of unsuccessful Mumbai-style plots against European cities last year. Still, Reuters adds, "the cache of evidence found in bin Laden's lair does not offer new indications about any specific current plots he was involved in directed at U.S. or other Western targets."