The List

5 crazy ways to catch Osama bin Laden

Flying bears, robot bees, and psychic spies: Just three of the radical ways in which we've tried to capture the terrorist mastermind

Though more than eight years have passed since 9/11 transformed Osama bin Laden into the world's most wanted man, the Saudi Arabian warlord remains at large. The U.S. government's persistent (and, so far, fruitless) plans to catch bin Laden were recently cast into doubt by Attorney General Eric Holder's prediction that he'll never be captured alive. Here's a look back at some of the more radical entrapment schemes people have suggested along the way:

1. A teleportation miracle
Back in 2005, "military futurists" at Edwards Air Force Base Research Lab were reportedly attempting to pioneer Star Trek–like teleportation technology with an eye to "beaming" soldiers across long distances. One day, predicted military spokesman Ranney Edwards in the San Francisco Chronicle, this would allow the U.S. to teleport soldiers into "a cave, tap bin Laden on the shoulder, and say: 'Let's go.'"

2. An airborne bear squad
According to Stars and Stripe, an anonymous letter writer informed the Pentagon, accurately, that a bear's sense of smell is more acute than a bloodhound's. "Trained bears with GPS and day/night cameras around their necks might be able to hunt down [bin Laden's] scent," wrote the unnamed amateur strategist. His proposal involved dropping bears wearing "parachutes that self-destruct after landing" into western Pakistan—everyone knows how much difficulty bears have taking those things off.

3. A robot army of killer bees
The Pentagon has tried training bees to smell bombs. But a small nanotechnology firm has reportedly gone further, claiming it could design "little drones that are the size of bumblebees" with the capacity to hunt down and kill terrorists. Perhaps the $25 million reward for capturing OBL is part of the revenue forecast?

4. Psychic spies
The British Ministry of Defense reportedly spent $27,000 recruiting psychics to locate bin Laden's hideaway in 2002. According to the Daily Mail, the Brits recruited 12 amateur psychics to see whether their sixth sense could be used to "remotely view" the terrorist's secret headquarters. Ultimately, it seems, defense chiefs concluded there was "little value" in mobilizing the would-be mind-readers. 

5. Wildlife distribution technology (aka pretending he's an animal)
Geographers at UCLA triumphantly announced in 2009 they had discovered Osama's hiding place using state-of-the-art "wildlife distribution technology." Based on how animals behave in the wild, said Thomas Gillespie to the NY Times, we can deduce he is "closest to the point where he was last reported" and "within a region that has a similar physical environment and cultural composition." UCLA posited this was a tribal village named Parachinar. Unfortunately, no one has yet followed up on the prediction.

Recommended

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties
Boris Johnson
partygate

Internal report blames Johnson, senior leadership for lockdown parties

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan
President Biden.
Picture of Harold MaassHarold Maass

Biden's promise to defend Taiwan

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities
Ukrainian tank in Sievierodonetsk
encirclement in luhansk

No time to evacuate as Russian forces close in on a pair of Ukrainian cities

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?
President Biden and Xi Jinping.
Briefing

Would the U.S. really defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion?

Most Popular

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP
Donald Trump.
Opinion

Trump loses his grip on a Trumpified GOP

21 dead in shooting at Texas elementary school
A Texas State Police officer at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
tragedy strikes

21 dead in shooting at Texas elementary school

'Why are we willing to live with this carnage?'
Uvalde, Texas.
Briefing

'Why are we willing to live with this carnage?'