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Bin Laden to Take al-Qaeda Public with 2005 IPO
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AFGHANISTAN - With the upper echelons of al-Qaeda being systematically arrested or killed by the U.S.-led war on terror, the group's access to funding has been steadily dwindling. To combat that trend and open the group up to new financial support, Osama bin Laden is reportedly planning to incorporate the al-Qaeda network and make it a publicly traded entity. "Mr. bin Laden recognizes that every time his group takes action around the world, it affects the U.S. stock markets. It is only reasonable to take the next step and become a part of that market," explained the group's presumptive Chief Financial Officer Oswan al-Benstani.

"If they play it right, it could work for them."
-- SEC Chairman William Donaldson
"If they play it right, it could work for them," admitted SEC Chairman William Donaldson, "Like any publicly traded corporation, they would need to be able to maintain the appearance of integrity. They couldn't leave their fingerprints all over their crime scenes, as it were. And no more of this 'claiming responsibility' business." It is unclear how willing the group would be to disconnect itself from its own terrorist activities, however, in light of its history of bragging about such attacks.

"They are hate-motivated. Or rather, religion-motivated, which is driving them to hate, so I don't see what they have to offer a potential investor. I mean, when your chief product is terror, what do you say in your prospectus?" asked economist Shaw Meedamuny.

"I would be concerned that the U.S. or another country might move to seize whatever I invested in the group," said one man who asked to remain anonymous, "Even if I was interested in supporting them -- which I'm not -- I wouldn't think it would be a wise investment." Others polled on the idea echoed that viewed. "Why would anyone support them by investing in them? It would be un-American!" said Esther Smythe, a retired schoolteacher.

Another hurdle for the group will be getting listed. The popular NASDAQ and NYSE exchanges are unlikely to be willing to list such a controversial stock, leaving al-Qaeda with a selection of smaller, privately run exchanges. Even in that crowd, enthusiasm is weak. "I wouldn't list 'em," said Elwood 'Bubba' Cartman, owner of Bubba's Stocks-N-Stuff Exchange, "I don't care if they bring commissions to beat the band, I ain't interested."

Despite the obstacles, bin Laden intends to go ahead with the move in the second or third quarter of 2005, according to the al-Qaeda web site.
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