A French newspaper has quoted a leaked intelligence report as saying that the Saudi Arabian government believes Osama bin Laden died of Typhoid in Pakistan a month ago. While refusing to confirm or deny anything, the French government has launched an inquiry into the leak.
There's too much of an aspect of "my brother's friend's cousin's tatooist said..." in this for it to be believed in the absence of a body (that's what we did for Pol Pot, after all). But it raises an interesting question: would it matter if OBL was dead?
At this stage, I don't think so. The US's overreaction to 9/11, its mindless quest for vengeance around the world, and the total lack of regard it has shown for civilian lives, international law, or simple morality in the process has transformed Al Qaeda from a bunch of loons living in caves into something much worse: an idea. And as Alan Moore pointed out in V for Vendetta, ideas are bulletproof. You can kill the people who believe them, but that does you no good if you do it in such a way that two more spring up in their place.
Knowledge of the tools and techniques of terrorism has spread. The US occupation of Iraq and its programme of rendition and torture and indefinite detention have provided a running sore of atrocities to motivate people to pick up those tools and use them. Osama bin Laden is now, in a sense, irrelevant; the only way this is going to stop is when the anger subsides. And given the scale of atrocity so far, that could take a while.