A report came out a couple of days ago, in a bit of rumormongering, that Osama Bin Laden died of a water-borne disease -- specifically, typhoid is the one that is mentioned. We may never know if it is true, given the shadowy world that he lived in. If it is true, it will be another blow to al-Qaeda. It is not so much that Bin Laden himself was such a great military leader; it is rather that a lot of al-Qaeda's planned operations were carried out using his finances. I am sure that not all of those finances will be recoverable by al-Qaeda if Bin Laden is dead.
What makes this story interesting is that al-Zawahiri is a medical doctor from Egypt. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri was probably the "brains" of the organization, while Bin Laden supplied the "capital." If he had been around bin-Laden, you would think that he would be able to recognize the symptoms and get Bin Laden treated before he could meet his demise. However, it says that Bin Laden was in a remote area; then there is the rumor that the two had seperated for operational reasons. I suppose it is possible that Zawahiri and Bin Laden were incommunicado with each other -- especially since our intelligence services know how to pick up electronic communications -- leading to Bin Laden not being able to get medical help fast enough. After all, when you are the world's most wanted man, it is not like you can simply have someone pick up the phone and dial 911 and get a house call from any doctor. There are very few people he would be able to trust to keep their mouths shut -- even in that part of the world -- when you have a $50 million bounty on your head.
Talking Points Memo has a discussion on it here.
Of course, it could be an early "October Surprise" as well, with the purpose of stemming the Republican's losses (even possibly leading to Republican gains) in the November elections. And it could be that our intelligence services found him and slipped him a biological agent to make it look like natural causes. That way, it would be less likely that he could become a martyr in the eyes of the Muslim world.
We are a long way from that, as we have not yet even confirmed that he is dead yet; and a lot of people have raised a lot of doubts about the report's veracity. In the shadowy world of espionage, we may never find out.