Juan Cole today (http://www.juancole.com) reports on the controversy over a recent paper by Gillespie et al, some geographers, in the MIT International Review, which has also gotten a lot of media attention. By doing analysis from space they claim that Osama bin Laden is probably hiding in the largest city in frontier zone of Pakistan near the Afghan border, Parachinar, and even identify three building complexes in it as likely locations for him to be. The obvious implication is for the US military to bomb the heck out of those buildings, or maybe at least to drop some Special Forces or whomever into there to try and capture him.
Cole reprints a letter from a former resident of the area to the MIT International Review, Murtaza Haidar, a professor at Ryerson University. Haidar points out a reason why Gillespie and crew are almost certainly wrong, and why it would be a major mistake for anybody to attack the place. While this zone is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, as is bin Laden and his closest followers, the city of Parachinar is inhabited overwhelmingly by Shi'i Muslims, with the city under siege and attack by their neighbors. Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the area have been responsible for the deaths of many Shi'a, so that there is simply no way that anyone from either group would be remotely welcome in Parachinar, most especially bin Laden himself. But , this is not the first time we have seen American "experts" calling for military action on the basis of ideas from outer space that are not at all in touch with the facts on the ground.