The following is an except brom a CBCNews article:
INDEPTH: OSAMA BIN LADEN Who is Osama bin Laden? CBC News Online | Jan. 19, 2006
American soldiers patrol a stretch of road in Paktia province near the Pakistani border, March 1, 2004 near Khost, about 200 kilometres southeast of Kabul. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
On March 7, 2004, as the snows melted in the mountains of Afghanistan and U.S. President George W. Bush eyed a November election, the United States launched Operation Mountain Storm in the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to find the elusive Osama bin Laden.
The United States said the operation, based at their headquarters in Kandahar, would unfold in secret across eastern and southern Afghanistan. Spokesperson Lt.-Col. Bryan Hiferty gave few details when he confirmed on March 13 that Operation Mountain Storm was underway, but he did tell the Associated Press, "The leaders of al-Qaeda and the leader of the Taliban need to be brought to justice – and they will be."
The U.S. also sent the elite special forces outfit, Task Force 121, a joint unit of commandos and CIA officers, to the border region to find bin Laden and the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammed Omar. Intelligence sources have told several U.S. media organizations that Task Force 121 was key in tracking down the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and after that success, the task force was sent to Afghanistan.
Osama bin Laden
There is one big difference between Saddam, and bin Laden and many of his al-Qaeda and Taliban followers. While Saddam spent most of his time in luxury, choosing which palace to sleep in each night, bin Laden and his men have years of experience dodging a previous enemy, the Soviet Union, which occupied Afghanistan until it was driven out in the 1980s.
Bin Laden was still at large in January 2006. Many experts believe that bin Laden remains in hiding somewhere in the mountains near Khowst, an area that European intelligence sources have told the media is still controlled by the Taliban. It is an area of old tribal loyalties, where local leaders have always been fiercely independent from any ruler of Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Pakistani security forces have also stepped up operations in the border area. Reports say that President Perez Musharraf was reluctant to stir up the hornets' nest of tribes and Islamic fundamentalists in the region, until a couple of failed attempts to assassinate him.
There have been accusations both in the American media and from Europe that while the United States painted bin Laden as public enemy number 1, the Americans "neglected" Afghanistan when its focus turned to Iraq in March 2003, a charge top U.S. officials vehemently deny.
There are also persistent reports that the U.S. invasion of Iraq changed al-Qaeda's focus, with bin Laden and his senior advisors moving resources from Afghanistan to Iraq because it was a good place to fight "the American crusaders," according to a Taliban source quoted by Newsweek magazine.