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Explainer: SPECIAL INTERACTIVE | Where are they now?

  • Stan Honda  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Whatever happened to Bob Beckwith, the retired New York City fireman who stood with President Bush at the ruined World Trade Center? The "dust man"? The man who whispered news of the 9/11 attacks in President Bush's ear? Ten years ago, their images were everywhere. Find out what has become of them — and other key figures associated with 9/11 — since.

  • Ed Fine (World Trade Center "dust man")

    Stan Honda  /  AFP - Getty Images file

    THEN
    A businessman who worked at New York-based Intercapital Planning Corp., Ed Fine became widely known from a 9/11 photograph that depicted him covered in dust, napkin held to his nose and mouth while still clutching his briefcase. Head bowed and his dark suit turned a light gray, Fine, then 58, shuffled through ankle-deep debris from the tower that had just collapsed. A clock behind him displayed the time: 10:14 a.m.

    Fine was waiting for an elevator on the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the building. Thinking a bomb had gone off, Fine and others made their way down the emergency stairs. Fine reached the street and began to walk away from the World Trade Center when the South Tower collapsed at 10:05 a.m., engulfing everything in the area in a cloud of smoke and debris.

    There, photographer Stan Honda of Agence France-Presse took his picture, an image used by websites, newspapers and magazines around the world. Days later, a friend told Fine his photo was on the cover of Fortune magazine.

    “I was focused in on: I must get uptown, I must keep surviving, I must walk,” Fine told the TODAY show. “And I wasn’t looking or thinking about anything other than surviving.”

    NOW
    Fine, who is married and has two grown children and a granddaughter, lives in suburban Watchung, N.J. When msnbc.com last spoke with Fine, the banker, now 67, was still working for investment consulting firm Carpe DM (a play on “carpe diem,” Latin for “seize the day”) and the SEPA Capital Group.

    In order to combine his business skills with his desire to help people, Fine also collaborates with Unilife Medical Solutions, an automatically-retractable safety syringe manufacturer that aims to decrease the spread of blood-borne viruses from syringe re-use in developing countries. “It was these objectives that first attracted me to this project,” Fine says, “and that may be part or all of the reason I was saved.”

    Fine told msnbc.com that the attacks don’t affect him on a daily basis anymore, because he had to “move past this in my life or it would have been too hurtful harboring the memories.”  His eight-year-old  granddaughter, Selena, born only months after the attacks, brings “a lot of joy” to his life, and “the pure innocence of youth reminds me of easier times.” 

    The battered black briefcase, the suit -- a gray Joseph A. Banks single-breasted model he bought in the late ’90s for about $300 -- and the shoes he wore on 9/11 still sit in Fine’s closet. He keeps his unused, return ferry ticket and his World Trade Center pass as constant reminders of how fortunate he is to be alive, Fine said. He used the briefcase for several more years until his wife insisted he get a new one.

  • Rudolph Giuliani (mayor of New York City)

    Robert F. Bukaty  /  Pool via AP

    THEN
    By the summer of 2001, Rudy Giuliani, then 57, was generally viewed as a lame duck.

    During his two terms as mayor of New York, Giuliani was a divisive figure who some praised for cracking down on crime and others maligned for attacking civil liberties in his zeal to clean up the city’s streets. Then, of course, there was the tabloids’ portrayal of the mayor’s messy separation from then-wife Donna Hanover.

    All that changed on Sept. 11, 2001, however, when the polemical politician’s leadership following the terrorist attacks cemented his position as a national leader who was named Time’s Person of the Year in 2001.

    A native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn, Giuliani mirrored the city’s emotions after the Sept. 11 attacks. His poise, calm and ability to coordinate city agencies and state and federal recovery efforts reassured a shaken city. He gave New Yorkers a sense of confidence in the fact that government agencies, both local and national, were on top of things. And he instilled a sense of pride.

    “Tomorrow New York is going to be here,” he said. “And we’re going to be stronger than we were before…. I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

    NOW

    Giuliani currently divvies up his time between Bracewell & Giuliani, a law firm he joined in 2005, and Giuliani Partners LLC, a management and security consulting business he started in January 2002 and still has equity interests in today.

    Giuliani was chairman and CEO of Giuliani Partners until he hit the campaign trail in 2007.

    In the years following Sept. 11, rumors began to swirl that Time’s 2001 Person of the Year might run for president. In November 2006, Giuliani formed an exploratory committee and in February 2007 he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. The campaign, however, began to falter, and when Giuliani came in third place in Florida, he decided to drop out of contention, backing John McCain and giving the thumbs up to Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate.

    The New York Times characterized Giuliani’s political career since 9/11 as a “dizzying free-fall” brought on by hubris and miscalculations. Still, the former mayor continues to be a pundit, particularly on Republican issues. He spoke out against Obama’s response to the recession and most recently made news when he came out against the building of an Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    “This project is divisive,” Giuliani told the TODAY show in mid-August. “All you’re doing is creating more division, more anger, more hatred.”

    Since 2001, Giuliani’s personal life also has continued to make headlines. After finalizing his acrimonious divorce from Hanover in 2002, Giuliani married Judith Nathan in 2003. Giuliani’s relationship with his two children by Hanover has been described as estranged and neither child appeared in the former mayor’s presidential campaign literature.

    Giuliani has dismissed conjecture that he might run for the senate or for governor of New York, saying he is busy enough as is with his current business ventures.

    “My life is interesting,” he told the New York Times in December 2009. “It’s not as if I’m looking for something interesting to do.”

  • Lisa Beamer (widow of Flight 93 victim)

    Linda Spillers  /  AP

    THEN
    In the aftermath of 9/11, it seemed Lisa Beamer was everywhere. The blond, 32-year-old mother of two boys exuded a calm and grace that belied the fact that she had just lost her husband on Flight 93, the only one of the four hijacked planes that did not reach its target.

    The reason, of course, that Flight 93 did not crash into the U.S. Capitol or another site in Washington, D.C., was due to the heroic acts of many of its passengers, among them Lisa Beamer’s husband, Todd, whose words “Let’s roll” to a telephone operator just before the plane went down near Shanksville, Pa., summed up the can-do bravery of the ordinary men and women who fought back against the terrorists.


    Beamer, who was five months pregnant on the day of the attacks, appeared repeatedly in the media, from the TODAY show and Larry King Live to People magazine. President George W. Bush even introduced Beamer to the country during his address to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001. Five months pregnant at the time of the attacks, Beamer came to represent all of the 9/11 widows grieving with dignity and strength.

    Beamer made 200 media appearances within the first six months after Sept. 11, according to publicist Tina Jacobson.

    NOW
    After giving birth to her daughter, Morgan, in January 2002, Beamer went on to write “Let’s Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage” – a book about her husband and her struggle to deal with her grief after his death. She later went on to create the Todd M. Beamer Foundation in Princeton, N.J. – an organization designed to help children who had lost their parents in the 9/11 attacks.

    The Beamer Foundation changed its name to Heroic Choices in 2004 and expanded its focus to help children who are rebounding from trauma, generally. Heroic Choices, however, began to encounter trouble in the mid 2000s.

    "The farther you get away from a charity created on a specific day ... the harder it is for charities to create funds as a result of an event,” Heroic Choices chair William Beatty said in a February 2007 interview. It is unclear whether or not Heroic Choices is still in operation, although the phone number previously listed to the organization is now no longer in service.

    Lisa Beamer, who was once on the board of Heroic Choices, along with her publicist, Tina Jacobson, declined to talk to msnbc.com. Beamer has made very few, if any, public speeches or appearances since 2007.

    Some accused her of profiting from the death of her husband in the terrorist attacks with the publication of her book and frequent media appearances. She was also criticized for applying for a trademark for the phrase “Let’s Roll.” The Todd M. Beamer Foundation successfully attained a trademark for the term and has since licensed it to Wal-Mart, the Florida State Football team and others.

  • Bob Beckwith (NYC fireman embraced by President Bush)

    Paul Richards  /  AFP

    THEN
    As Ground Zero still smoldered just days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush stood with a bullhorn in one hand and his arm around retired New York City Fire Department firefighter Bob Beckwith – instantly making Beckwith an iconic image of the nation’s strength and resilience in the wake of the attacks.

    Beckwith, 69 at the time, was inspired to help in the rescue efforts at Ground Zero after he learned that one of his former colleague’s sons was among the hundreds of missing firefighters. A few days after the attacks, Beckwith went down to the footprint of the towers and convinced authorities at the heavily guarded perimeter of the site to let him pass. They did, and he began working to find survivors.

    Then a Secret Service agent asked Beckwith to jump up on a partially buried fire truck to make sure it was safe, Beckwith told msnbc.com in a recent interview. Bush also climbed up on the site. “You OK, Mr. President?” Beckwith asked as he began to climb off the rig. Bush turned around and responded, “Where do you think you’re going? You’re staying right here.”

    The crowd began chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” As the cheers died down, Bush started speaking. Someone from the crowd yelled that they couldn’t hear the president. Bush, with his arm still draped around Beckwith, shouted into his bullhorn, "I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

    The president’s words were met with whooping and hollering from the crowd.

    NOW
    Beckwith, now 78, retired from FDNY’s Ladder 164 firehouse in Queens in 1994 after 29 years of service and now speaks and raises money for New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation – a non-profit dedicated to advancing burn care, research and prevention. He has six kids, who are all grown up now, and lives with his wife in Baldwin, Long Island, where he’s been for the last 53 years.

    Since 9/11, Beckwith said he has received numerous invitations to tell his story to crowds in countries around the world. He donates the revenue he makes from the tours to the burn center, he said in a recent interview. “People have to be reminded. It’s my personal mission,” he said, “because I don’t want them to ever forget what happened.”

    In addition to the burn center, Beckwith helps to coordinate the annual Stephen Siller 5K run, scheduled for Sept. 26 this year. His latest personal mission: Getting people to recognize and help out the volunteers who worked down at Ground Zero following the attacks and are now getting sick. “It’s just not right, something is wrong,” Beckwith said. “So the government better wise up and start taking care.”

    And President Bush?

    Beckwith has kept in touch. The retired firefighter has gone to White House Christmas parties and received a letter from Bush when the former president learned Beckwith’s daughter had cancer. The former firefighter, who was not always in Bush’s court when it came to politics, also attended Bush’s exit speech to the nation in January 2009. “He’s a nice, regular guy, President Bush, he’s a nice person,” Beckwith said.

    This Sept. 11, Beckwith plans to go to a memorial at Point Lookout in Queens. He’s gone there every year since 2002. “It’s well done,” he says matter-of-factly.

  • Andrew Card (whispered news of attacks to Bush)

    Win McNamee  /  Reuters file

    THEN

    White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, then 54, was the man who broke the news of the enormity of the attacks to President George W. Bush. A much-published photo showed the president reacting with surprise as Card whispered in his ear.

    During Bush’s visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., news had reached him that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in what appeared to be an accident involving be a single-engine aircraft.

    When the second tower was struck, Card approached the president and whispered, “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.” Card then stepped away and waited for the president to excuse himself, which he did after several minutes of listening to second-graders reading a book.

    NOW
    When Card whispered the news of the 9/11 attacks into President Bush’s ear, the best he could do was to remain “calm and collected,” he told msnbc.com. 

    Even almost a decade after the attacks, Card says he still has visceral feelings when reflecting on his internal struggle that day to be “all business,” to do his job and to “not let his emotions get in the way.”

    “Obviously, September 11, 2001, changed an awful lot of things for America and the world and, yes, it changed me as well,” he said. “We certainly see the change every time we board an aircraft, recognize a whole new bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security or have to debate the role of the CIA or the Director of National Intelligence or whatever.”

    As the Bush administration dropped in popularity as the war in Iraq dragged on, Card -- who worked seven days a week and went down as one of the longest-serving chiefs of staff of all time -- announced he would leave office in March 2006, after six years in the notoriously tough job. 

    A former executive at General Motors, Card returned to the private sector, where he now sits on the board of directors of the railroad operator Union Pacific. In 2007, he also joined the public relations company Fleishman-Hillard as a senior counselor. 

    Card frequently speaks at schools and colleges across the country, sometimes drawing flak for his candid criticism of the Obama administration. In January 2009, Card told conservative talk show host Michael Medved that Obama brought a “locker room experience to the White House” with his informal dress code. Across the blogosphere, liberals urged Card to apologize.

    After Sen. Edward Kennedy died in August 2009, Card, a native of Massachusetts, considered running for Kennedy’s Senate seat but ultimately opted to step out of the race on Sept. 11, 2009 and endorse Republican Scott Brown for the post.

  • Howard Lutnick (Cantor Fitzgerald CEO)

    Bebeto Matthews  /  AP file

    THEN
    The hard-nosed Cantor Fitzgerald CEO lost 658 out of his 960employees in the 9/11 attacks. No one who was in the company’s offices, occupying floors 101-105 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11 survived.

    In a twist of fate, Lutnick was not in the office on the morning of the attacks because he was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten. But, while that saved his life, his brother, best friend and almost all of Cantor’s stock and bond traders, as well as the accounting, human resources and legal departments were killed.

    In the immediate aftermath of the attacks the notoriously tough corporate titan wept on TV and promised to take on a new mission in life: To take care of the families of his dead employees.  Lutnick’s compassionate side appeared to be short-lived, however. On Sept. 15, just four days after the attacks, Lutnick stopped paychecks to all of the employees who had died. The victims’ families were outraged.

    “I needed my bankers to know that I was in control,” Lutnick told New York Magazine two months after the attacks. “That I wasn't sentimental and that I was no less motivated or driven to make my business survive.”

    By Sept. 19, Lutnick quickly announced a compensation plan to help the victims’ families – the company promised to share 25 percent of profits with families for the next five years -- until Sept. 11, 2006 -- plus 10 years of health insurance.

    NOW
    By all accounts, Lutnick has made good on his promise.

    Cantor Fitzgerald is once again a profitable company and a global financial service provider specializing in equity and fixed income capital markets, as well as investment banking, asset management and brokerage services. 

    Through the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, moreover, the company distributed more than $180 million of its earnings to the families during the five-year period following 9/11 and will continue to provide health insurance to them until Oct. 19, 2011. When the U.S. government created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the firm hired econometricians to prepare a detailed model for each family so that they would be awarded the right amount of compensation. Cantor also provided the families with access to lawyers to file life insurance claims.

    Lutnick, meanwhile, continues to serve as chairman and CEO of Cantor as well as holding the same positions at both BGC Partners Inc. (an inter-dealer broker) and eSpeed Inc. (an electronic trading platform). In addition, he serves on numerous boards, including that of his alma mater, Haverford College, and that of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

    Lutnick received the Department of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor granted by the Navy to nonmilitary personnel.

    Earlier this year, Lutnick came out against President Obama’s “populist battle against the banks.” “It’s fun to bash the banks if you are not making ground in health care,” he told Reuters at the World Economic Forum.

  • Three firemen with flag at Ground Zero

    Thomas E. Franklin  /  The Bergen Record file

    THEN
    The photograph is perhaps the most iconic taken at ground zero: In it, three New York City firefighters -- Daniel McWilliams, George Johnson and William “Billy” Eisengrein – stand amid the ruins of the twin towers late in the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 to hoist a jerry-rigged American flag.

    The image, captured by Thomas E. Franklin, a staff photographer for The Record in Bergen County, N.J., was quickly picked up by national newspapers, magazines and television networks. Many felt it was reminiscent of Joe Rosenthal’s image of the Marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

    As the story goes, one of the firefighters, Williams, saw the American flag attached to a yacht that was docked on the Hudson River and grabbed it. On his walk back to Ground Zero, Williams was joined by Johnson, also in his ladder company, and Eisengrein, a friend he grown up with on Staten Island. The three spotted a flagpole about 20 feet above street level and climbed up to raise the flag as Franklin captured the image from 100 feet away at about 5 p.m. on the afternoon of 9/11.

    “They didn’t know that the picture was taken,” Franklin told msnbc.com in a recent interview. “I was doing my job, which was to document this historic but horrible event. They did what they did and I did what I did and the picture happened. And that’s it. It’s a moment in time.”

    Six months after the attacks, in March 2002, McWilliams, Johnson, Eisengrein and Franklin joined President George W. Bush in the Oval Office when he unveiled the image as a special U.S. postal stamp to raise funds for families of emergency workers killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency raised around $10 million through the stamp, Franklin said.

    The photo was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won numerous national photojournalism awards.

    NOW
    Ten days after it was raised, the flag was taken down and brought to Yankee Stadium where it was signed by then-Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani along with the city’s top fire and police officials. Afterwards, it was reportedly taken to the USS. Theodore Roosevelt – the aircraft carrier that was deployed to launch the initial strikes against al Qaida from the Arabian Sea off Afghanistan.

    Nobody knows, however, what happened to the flag after. “I don’t know where Osama bin Laden is, either,” Bloomberg told USA Today in a 2006 interview. Some speculate it was stolen.

    All three of the firefighters featured in the iconic image are still working for the New York City Fire Department today. They want “nothing to do” with requests from the media, according to the FDNY press office. The press office was able to give general updates on the three, however.

    McWilliams, now 44, is currently a lieutenant with Battalion 37 in Brooklyn. He has worked with the FDNY for 19 years and lives on Long Island.

    Johnson, now 45, has also worked for the FDNY for 19 years and was recently promoted to Battalion Chief in Brooklyn.

    Eisengrein, now 46, is a firefighter working out of Rescue 2 in Brooklyn. He has been with the FDNY for 25 years now.

    Franklin, the one who captured the image, still works for The Record in New Jersey. He is now the paper’s multimedia and video manager and said that after getting inundated with media requests in the years immediately following 9/11, things began to get back to normal for him in 2003 and 2004, which is what he prefers. Franklin, now 44, is married with a son and lectures as an adjunct professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey.

    Franklin said he has met the three firefighters in his photograph a handful of times since 9/11, most recently at the one-year anniversary of 9/11 when he took another picture of the three with the statue of liberty in the background. That photograph ran on the cover of Newsweek and The Record.

  • Coleen Rowley (FBI whistleblower)

    Carlo Allegri  /  Getty Images file

    THEN
    The FBI’s chief legal adviser in Minneapolis for more than a decade, Coleen Rowley, then 46, was involved in the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was already considered a potential terrorist threat because of flight training he had received in the United States. Rowley pushed for a search warrant for Moussaoui’s laptop computer, a request repeatedly denied by FBI headquarters.

    Eventually, Moussaoui, who would become known as “the 20th hijacker,” was arrested for an immigration violation on Aug. 15, 2001 and his ties to radical fundamentalist Islamic groups were soon confirmed by the French intelligence service. Rowley would later call Moussaoui’s arrest a “missed opportunity” for American investigators to unravel and possibly prevent the 9/11 plot. (Moussaoui was later convicted for his role in 9/11.)

    In 2002, Rowley testified before the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Judiciary Committee about what she considered to be critical lapses by the FBI. In a 13-page memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Rowley wrote: “I feel that certain facts, including the following, have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons.”

    As a result of her public testimony, Rowley was among the three whistleblowers named Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” (along with Sherron Watkins of Enron and Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom).

    NOW
    Stepping down as chief legal adviser in the FBI’s Minneapolis office to become a special agent once again in 2003, Rowley retired a year later after 24 years with the agency. She now lives with her husband and four children in Apple Valley, Minn.

    In February 2005, Rowley was nominated to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a five-person body recommended by the 9/11 Commission to advise the executive branch on laws and policies implemented to protect the United States against terrorism. The Bush administration, however, did not select her for the board.

    The following year, Rowley ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress as a Democrat, losing to Republican incumbent John Kline in Minnesota’s 2nd District.

  • Bernard Kerik (New York City police chief)

    Beth A. Keiser  /  AP file

    THEN
    Though much in the shadow of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was central to coordinating the city’s response to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.

    Kerik, who was 46 at the time, was a veteran law enforcement officer when he was tapped to head the largest police force in the United States. In addition to being praised for his handling of the crisis at Ground Zero, Kerik had gained a name for cutting crime in New York and improving police relations with minority communities.

    However, Kerik, who testified before a Senate subcommittee and pushed for legislation that would help the FBI share information with local officials, announced a month later that he would not remain in his position when Giuliani left office in January 2002.

    “'I have to look at what I have done throughout my life,” Kerik said in a November 2001 news conference, “and what I have been through in the last eight years, most importantly the last year, and then the last eight weeks. I think you have to set priorities in your life, and my priorities right now are focused toward my family and the future.”

    NOW
    It was a future that appeared bright.

    Immediately after leaving office, Kerik became a senior vice president at Giuliani Partners, the

    consulting firm founded by his former boss. And in May 2003 Kerik was appointed as the interim minister of interior to Iraq with responsibility for overseeing post-invasion reconstruction efforts. He also served as senior policy adviser to Paul Bremer, the U.S. presidential envoy to Iraq.

    But that’s where the problems began.

    In his book “Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq,” author George Packer reported that Kerik “went home after just three months, leaving almost nothing behind.” And in an interview with the New York Daily News, retired U.S. Army General Ricardo Sanchez said Kerik’s efforts to train Iraqi police were “a waste of time and effort.”

    Bremer, on the other hand, called Kerik “streetwise and no-nonsense” in his memoir “My Year in Iraq.” And in 2004, President George W. Bush nominated Kerik to lead the Homeland Security Department, praising him as a "dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results."

    But very soon after, several issues came to light that ultimately doomed the nomination, including tax and immigration violations regarding a former nanny, questionable timing in the sale of stocks, rumors of an extramarital affair, allegations of misusing police property for personal gain and improper reporting of gifts.

    As a result of the disclosures, Kerik withdrew his nomination and resigned from Giuliani Partners. He started The Kerik Group LLC, a group focusing on crisis and risk management, a few months later in March 2005. He was chairman of the company until June 2009.

    Then things went from bad to worse. In February 2010, Kerik was sentenced to four years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to the White House in 2004. The judge in the case said that although Kerik acted in the “highest tradition of a public servant” on 9/11, “The fact that Mr. Kerik would use that event for personal gain and aggrandizement is a dark place in the soul for me.”

    Kerik is married with two young daughters. He is active on social media, tweeting @BernardKerik and blogging at bernardkerik.blogspot.com.

  • Osama bin Laden (terrorism mastermind)

    AP FILE

    THEN
    Head of the al-Qaida terrorist organization, Osama bin Laden was soon named the prime suspect in the 9/11 attacks and President George W. Bush quickly vowed bin Laden would be captured “dead or alive.”

    Already wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 coordinated bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, bin Laden was the subject of a $25 million bounty offered by the United States.

    NOW
    Bin Laden’s whereabouts remain unknown, though most observers agree he is in hiding in the mountainous tribal areas straddling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    Conspiracy theories abound as to whether the Saudi-born terrorist may be dead. Regardless, U.S. officials confirm that intelligence on bin Laden is incredibly scarce. “There is no trail anymore,” former CIA officer Bruce Riedel told BBC in January 2010. “It’s not cold… it’s frozen over.”

    Since the attacks, there have been dozens of audio and video clips attributed to bin Laden. In an audiotape released in the aftermath of the Gaza offensive earlier this year, he called for a new jihad against Israel. He also argued the global economic downturn signaled a weakening of U.S. influence worldwide.  In a January 2010 audio clip released by Al Jazeera, bin Laden reportedly castigated the United States for not dealing with climate change.

    CIA analysis of the tapes verifies that at least some have been made by bin Laden. However, skeptics such as Prof. Angelo Codevilla of Boston University question the authenticity of the recordings, citing results of other voice recognition tests such as those conducted by a Swiss artificial intelligence institute.

    In July 2006, National Public Radio and The New York Times reported that a decade-old CIA unit named Alec Station -- whose mission was to hunt bin Laden and his top lieutenants -- was disbanded in late 2005. While a former official in charge of the unit, Michael Scheuer, called the move a mistake, a CIA spokeswoman said "the efforts to find Osama bin Laden are as strong as ever." 

    The most tapes from al-Qaida also reveal that the group could be struggling with finances.

    In August 2010, one of the group’s top commanders appealed for donations, saying that many militants lacked the money and equipment to fight. The message, posted on the group’s website, also included a previously recorded audio clip of bin Laden.

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