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B I N  B E E N ?

Reports on the reported whereabouts of Osama bin Laden
compiled by the Progressive Review over ten years


Afghanistan offered bin Laden for trial in 1990s




Sam Smith - A conversation with a friend in the dialysis business reminded us that we still haven't caught Osama Bin Laden. Over the past seven years we have ruined our budget, our constitution and our reputation in an effort to suppress the incapacitated warrior and we seem no closer than ever. Since it sounds like the Obama administration plans to continue this escapade, it may help to put it into some perspective. Assuming that AlQaeda exists - and even a British police commissioner has said it was more an idea than a reality - estimates of its force size are in the 5,000 range with an annual budget, according to the 9/11 Commission, of around $30 million (with an unknown proportion laundered through hedge funds and the like). That's what it cost the Pentagon to build a new mortuary at the Dover Air Force Base.

If a country the size of the United States can't handle 5,000 guerrillas operating on one tenth the amount with which Bernie Madoff absconded, we really are in serious trouble. On the other hand, it may occur to the new crowd that the way to reduce the threat ofguerrilla activity is to lessen the cause. After all, Osama bin Laden is a monster created by American foreign policy. You can kill him but unless our foreign policy changes, there are more monsters where he came from.

Osama bin Laden is alive and "putting a lot of energy into his own security," the director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, said today. laden hayden Osama bin Laden is alive and hiding in Pakistan, said CIA chief Michael Hayden today, though the terrorism leader has little oversight of the al Qaeda daily operations. He also claimed, without providing details, that the US intelligence community had disrupted an attack "that would have rivaled the destruction of 9/11." A senior intelligence official said Hayden was referring to the 2006 liquid bomb on airliners plot that was foiled in London.



GUARDIAN, UK 2001 - Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

The disclosures are known to come from French intelligence which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.

Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.

The CIA chief was seen in the lift, on his way to see Bin Laden, and later, it is alleged, boasted to friends about his contact. He was recalled to Washington soon afterwards.

Intelligence sources say that another CIA agent was also present; and that Bin Laden was also visited by Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, who had long had links with the Taliban, and Bin Laden. Soon afterwards Turki resigned, and more recently he has publicly attacked him in an open letter: "You are a rotten seed, like the son of Noah".

The American hospital in Dubai emphatically denied that Bin Laden was a patient there. Washington last night also denied the story. . .

Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years.

According to Le Figaro, last year he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan.


MADDY SAUER, ABC NEWS BLOTTER - Early this week, as banners on extreme Islamist websites announced a message of good news to come shortly from Al Qaeda leadership, terrorism analysts and the media began speculating that it might be the first message in over a year from Osama bin Laden to his followers. As it turned out, it was yet another message from his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri that was more academic than threatening. Almost six years after the attacks of September 11th, bin Laden has continued to elude capture and has remained a thorn in the side of US anti-terror efforts. . .

The world last heard from bin Laden in June 2006 when he issued an audio statement praising the efforts of fellow terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi who had been recently killed in Iraq. There has been no new video of bin Laden since October 2004. The last time there was a lengthy gap between his statements was between December 2004 and January 2006.

Meanwhile, his followers often make claims that their leader is alive and well. Last month, top Taliban Commander Mansoor Dadullah, who recently led the graduation ceremony of suicide bomber recruits, told Al Jazeera that bin Laden is "alive and active" and that the Al Qaeda leader had even sent him a condolence letter when his brother, another top Taliban commander, was killed by coalition forces. . .

ABC NEWS - Although he has not been seen or heard since last July, a militant Islamist group in Algeria says Osama bin Laden gave formal approval this week for the group to change its name. . . Members of jihadi forums have noted that the new statement shows bin Laden is alive and well. . . The last statement by bin Laden was an audio issued on July 1, 2006. In a recent statement, al Qaeda's No. 2 Ayman al Zawahri indicated he was in touch with bin Laden. In an interview with al Arabiya channel on Wednesday, however, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf claimed there were reports that bin Laden and al Zawahri "have developed differences and are operating separately now.


REUTERS - Dubai-based Al Arabiya television on Tuesday quoted a Taliban official as saying al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was alive and in good health. The Arabic channel said its Pakistan bureau had received a call from the unnamed Taliban official a few days after a leaked French secret document said Saudi intelligence believed bin Laden died last month in Pakistan. "The official said bin Laden was alive and that reports that he is ill are not true," said Bakr Atyani, Al Arabiya's Islamabad correspondent. "The Taliban checked with members who are close to al Qaeda that these reports are baseless."


WASHINGTON POST - The clandestine U.S. commandos whose job is to capture or kill Osama bin Laden have not received a credible lead in more than two years. Nothing from the vast U.S. intelligence world -- no tips from informants, no snippets from electronic intercepts, no points on any satellite image -- has led them anywhere near the al-Qaeda leader, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. "The handful of assets we have given us nothing close to real-time intelligence" that could have led to his capture, said one counterterrorism official, who said the trail, despite the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, has gone "stone cold."


HAARETZ - A Web site claiming close ties to Al-Qaida has announced that the leader of the international terror network, Osama bin Laden, is dead, the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al Awsat reported Friday. The claim has not been confirmed. "We have now found out this urgent news item, whereby the Al-Qaida organization has announced the death of bin Laden," read Thursday's message on the Web site, Manbar Ahal A-Suna V'al Jama'a. Over the last few weeks, the site has been publishing messages purportedly stemming from Al-Qaida. However, it is unclear whether the information posted on the site is credible, since backers of sites such as this one are generally anonymous, as are their sources.


TIMES, UK - The world may be better off if Osama Bin Laden remains at large, according to the Central Intelligence Agency's recently departed executive director. If the world's most wanted terrorist is captured or killed, a power struggle among his Al-Qaeda subordinates may trigger a wave of terror attacks, said AB "Buzzy" Krongard, who stepped down six weeks ago as the CIA's third most senior executive.

"You can make the argument that we're better off with him (at large)," Krongard said. "Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror."

Krongard, a former investment banker who joined the CIA in 1998, said Bin Laden's role among Islamic militants was changing. "He's turning into more of a charismatic leader than a terrorist mastermind," he said. "Some of his lieutenants are the ones to worry about."

Krongard, 68, said he viewed Bin Laden "not as a chief executive but more like a venture capitalist." He added: "Let's say you and I want to blow up Trafalgar Square. So we go to Bin Laden. And he'll say, 'Well, here's some money and some passports and if you need weapons, see this guy'.

Several US officials have privately admitted that it may be better to keep Bin Laden pinned down on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than make him a martyr or put him on trial. But Krongard is the most senior figure to acknowledge publicly that his capture might prove counter-productive.



[The entire war on terror, its extraordinary expense and the damage it has done to our constitution and culture, has been largely based on the presumed intentions of one man: Osama bin Laden. In a sense, this has been a major triumph for bin Laden. As he says, 9/11 only cost him a half million dollars; it's cost the U.S. $500 billon. But what if bin Laden, like many insurgent leaders before him, is changing his tactics and strategies with the times? What if America's devil is becoming just another adversary? What if we have lost the enemy we need to carry out the madness to which we have now inexorably committed ourselves? Just something to consider before the next budget cycle]

DON VAN NATTA JR, NY TIMES - What does Osama bin Laden want? The vexing question emerged again last week with the release of an audiotape on which the Qaeda leader seems to be speaking. On it, he applauds the Dec. 6 attack against the United States Consulate in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, and urges the toppling of the Saudi royal family. The tape indicated that Mr. bin Laden has apparently moved the fomenting of a revolution in his Saudi homeland toward the top of his lengthy and ambitious wish list, which also includes the reversal of American foreign policy in the Middle East, the retreat of the American military from the Arabian Peninsula and the creation of a Palestinian homeland. . .

Earlier this year, he offered a truce to European governments that withdraw their troops from Iraq. In a message released just before the presidential election in the United States, he gloated that the war in Iraq and the "war against terror" were primarily responsible for record American budget deficits. Instead of talking about exacting blood from his enemies, he offered a sober discussion of the bleeding of the American economy.

Perhaps most striking is Mr. bin Laden's expression of frustration. Like any politician on the stump, Mr. bin Laden craves the ability to deliver an unfiltered message to his audience. Speaking directly to Americans in the pre-election address, he complained that his rationale for waging a holy war against the United States was repeatedly mischaracterized by President Bush and consequently misunderstood by most Americans.

To change this, Mr. bin Laden is testing what he apparently believes are more mainstream themes, while trying to dislodge the entrenched American view of him as a terrorist hell-bent on destroying America and all it stands for. In the pre-election address, Mr. bin Laden said Mr. Bush was wrong to "claim that we hate freedom." He added: "If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike, for example, Sweden."

That remark surprised some counterterrorism officials and terrorist experts, who said the Al Qaeda leader rarely injects sarcasm into his public pronouncements. They took it as a signal that he was trying to broaden his appeal, particularly to moderate Muslims and possibly even some Americans.

What they cannot say is whether the less strident approach means that he has changed his goals and is less of a danger or that he is just laying the groundwork to justify a new attack against the United States. But they are listening closely and debating an important question: Is Mr. bin Laden committed to destroying America, or has he become more pragmatic, trying to begin a rational foreign policy debate about its presence in the Middle East and even appealing to Americans' pocketbooks?. . .

In his pre-election address, Mr. bin Laden seemed irritated that interviews he gave to Western journalists in the 1990's went largely unheard by most Americans. He appeared to suggest that if American leaders had listened to his warnings that the United States must change its foreign policy in the Middle East or face the consequences, the Sept. 11 attacks could have been avoided.

Analysts say Mr. bin Laden's repeated refrain is that Al Qaeda's strikes are retribution for American and Israeli killings of Muslim women and children. "Reciprocity is a very important principle in the Islamic way of the world," Mr. Scheuer said. "They judge how far they can go by how far their enemy has gone."

What stood out in the pre-election message was Mr. bin Laden's bid to reinvent himself. He traded his battle fatigues, his AK-47 and a rough-terrain backdrop for a sensible sheik's garb, an anchor desk and a script without a single phrase portending a clash of civilizations. No longer was he reflecting on his own possible martyred death in the "eagle's belly" - the United States - as he did in 2002, nor did he threaten another spectacular attack against America.

Instead, he said the United States could avoid another attack if it stopped threatening the security of Muslims. He spoke at length about what he sees as the true motive for the Iraq war - to enrich American corporations with ties to the Bush administration. (He cited Halliburton.) And he spoke of bloodshed, but this time metaphorically, about the American economy.

He mocked the United States's budget and trade deficits, saying that Al Qaeda is committed "to continuing this policy in bleeding American to the point of bankruptcy." And he said that the 9/11 attacks, which cost Al Qaeda a total of $500,000, have cost the United States more than $500 billion, "according to the lowest estimate" by a research organization in London that he cited by name. "It all shows that the real loser is - you," he told Americans, according to a transcript by Al Jazeera, the satellite network.

Peter Bergen, a CNN analyst who interviewed Mr. bin Laden in 1997, said, "The talk revealed bin Laden to be sort of a policy wonk, talking about supplemental emergency funding by Congress for the Afghan and Iraq wars, and how it was evidence that Al Qaeda's bleed-until-bankruptcy plan was working."

"Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those exaggerations." - George Bush at the last 2004 debate

"So I don't know where he [Osama Bin Laden] is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him...I truly am not that concerned about him." - George Bush, March 13, 1002 news conference


NEWSMAX - Former Navy Secretary John Lehman said Thursday that the Pentagon has pinpointed the location of Osama bin Laden in the Baluchistan Region of Western Pakistan, but is holding back on rounding him up because it could destabilize the government of Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. . . "There is an American presence in the area, but we can't just send in troops," he told the Sun. "If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now." Lehman said that because Pakistan's Baluchistan Region is "filled with Taliban and al-Qaida members" who do not recognize the legitimacy of President Musharraf, the U.S. military is holding back. "Look," he explained, "Musharraf already has had three assassination attempts on his life. He is trying to comply, but he is surrounded by people who do not agree with him


GORDON THOMAS, EL MUNDO - During the home stretch of the Northa American elections, Osama bin Laden could prove to be the ace in the sleeve of president Bush. As we speak, Washington is negotiating a highly secretive agreement with Beijing, the Chinese capital, for the eviction of bin Laden from his sanctuary in the turbulent Muslim provinces of China, in the Northwest of the Great Wall nation.

More than five million people, many of them fanatic followers of Osama, live in that region, which can be called one of the most volatile regions of earth. Thousands of them work for the mafias who specialize in the trafficking of humans and drugs to the West. Last summer, Bin Laden sealed an agreement with the authorities in Beijing, in which he was granted asylum in return for his guarantees that the guerilla war of the Muslim Chinese against the Chinese nation would end.

Over the years, tens of thousands of troops of the Popular Liberation Armee had been sent to the region with the intent to squash the insurgents. Since the arrival of the Saudi Osama Bin Laden, the region has been relatively quiet, and the Muslims who live there are allowed to continue their trafficking of humans and drugs.

However, Bin Laden could now see himself trapped in his refuge, if an extraordinary agreement between Beijing and Washington would come to pass, in which China would hand over to the United States the most wanted terrorist in the world. The capture of Bin Laden would virtually guarantee the reelection of George Bush Jr., as it would confirm to the millions of undecided voters of the U.S. that the war against terrorism was justified after Bin Laden had authorized the attacks of 9/11 against New York and Washington.


DR. A.H. JAFFOR ULLAH, THE NATION, BANGLADESH - Reuters states that the U.S. and its allies have "put Osama bin Laden on the defensive, increasing chances of his capture soon." This was revealed in Pakistani news media on September 5, 2004. The newspaper has referred to Mr. Cofer Black, a U.S. counter-terrorism official who also visited Bangladesh. Mr. Cofer was in Dhaka to talk to Khaleda Zia Administration about Bangladesh's effort to combat global terrorism. Mr. Cofer was probably visiting Dhaka because of 8-21 grenade attack. The U.S. is mostly interested now in catching Osama bin Laden. . .

Mr. Cofer Black is a State Department coordinator for global counter terrorism. He met with the Pakistani official recently. . . In Islamabad, the U.S. counter terrorism official said that the entire "infrastructure" was in place to capture the most valuable player of 9-11 tragedy. Mr. Black was talking to Pakistan's 'Daily Times' reporter. What did Mr. Black refer to when he mentioned the word "infrastructure?" I have interpreted his statement as follows: the U.S. and her ally, Pakistan, now know where Osama bin Laden is hiding in the frontier area. . .

In other words, they have cornered him and on a moment's notice, he could be arrested. . . If this is correct, then Mr. Cofer Black's statement should not be taken with grain of salt. Mr. Black is so confident about the impending arrest of Osama that on Sunday he said, "Success against people that you know about, Osama, could happen tomorrow, could happen the day after, a week from now, or a month from now."

The U.S. State Department's official on counter-terrorism told private Geo Television the following: "Osama bin Laden is probably the most hunted man in the planet now. Osama bin Laden and his associates at that level are primarily defensive, they spend most of their time trying to keep from getting caught. If he (bin Laden) has a watch, he should be looking at it because the clock is ticking. He will be caught. Programs are in place and what I tell people (is) I would be surprised but not necessarily shocked if we wake up tomorrow and he has been caught along with all his lieutenants.". .



Dead, according to Israeli intelligence. 



BRENDAN O'NEILL, SPIKED ONLINE - Every day since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 there have been media reports about al-Qaeda - its leaders, members, capabilities, bank accounts, reach and threat. What is this al-Qaeda? Does such a group even exist? Some terrorism experts doubt it. Adam Dolnik and Kimberly McCloud reckon it's time we 'defused the widespread image of al-Qaeda as a ubiquitous, super-organized terror network and call it as it is: a loose collection of groups and individuals that doesn't even refer to itself as al-Qaeda.' Dolnik and McCloud - who first started studying terrorism at the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies in California - claim it was Western officials who imposed the name 'al-Qaeda' on to disparate radical Islamic groups and who blew Osama bin Laden's power and reach 'out of proportion'. Both are concerned about the threat of terror, but argue that we should 'debunk the myth of al-Qaeda.'. . .

'Bin Laden never used the term al-Qaeda prior to 9/11', Dolnik tells me. 'Nor am I aware of the name being used by operatives on trial. The closest they came were in statements such as, "Yes, I am a member of what you call al-Qaeda". The only name used by al-Qaeda themselves was the World Islamic Front for the Struggle Against Jews and Crusaders - but I guess that's too long to really stick.'. . .

According to British journalist Jason Burke, in his authoritative Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, 'Al-Qaeda is a messy and rough designation, often applied carelessly in the absence of a more useful term.' Burke points out that while many think al-Qaeda is 'a terrorist organization founded more than a decade ago by a hugely wealthy Saudi Arabian religious fanatic', in fact the term 'al-Qaeda' has only entered political and mainstream discussion fairly recently.


REUTERS- A senior U.S. general said on Friday that al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) had "taken himself out of the picture" and that his capture was not essential to winning the "war on terror." General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at U.S. military headquarters just north of Kabul that the 11,500-strong U.S.-led force hunting al Qaeda and Taliban militants was not focusing on individuals. "He (bin Laden) has taken himself out of the picture," Pace told reporters after visiting U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan (news - web sites). "It is not an individual that is as important as is the ongoing campaign of the coalition against terrorists," he said.


ABC NEWS - The hunt for Osama bin Laden has been narrowed to a 40-square-mile section of the Waziristan region of Pakistan, senior U.S. officials told ABC News. . . Authorities are casting a net around the towns of Angoor Ada and Wana in southern Waziristan, which are infested with al Qaeda supporters, but it is a difficult and dangerous area to operate in.



Osama bin Laden, leader of terror network al-Qaida, is still alive, according to an audio tape purportedly recorded by a spokesman for the group and broadcast today on an Arab television network.


The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our Number one priority and we will not rest until we find him!" - George W. Bush, September 13, 2001

I don't know where he is. . . I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. . . I truly am not that concerned about him. - George W. Bush, March 13, 2002

MARCH 2003







COOPERATIVE RESEARCH - A very curious shoot-out in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 11, 2002. . . Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the man who wanted to join the 19 hijackers but was unable to get a US visa, was captured at the end of a four-hour battle involving thousands of police. Nine other suspected terrorists were captured, and two were killed. [Telegraph, 9/16/02] The capture of bin al-Shibh was hailed as a major victory, but it was accidental: "Pakistani intelligence and police officials now admit that the man they were actually looking for that day was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed...," reported one account. [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02, Guardian, 9/23/02]

"Afterward, and still, Karachi was thick with rumor. Mohammed was dead, was captured, was there and got away, was there and was allowed to get away." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] And the Asia Times claimed Mohammed was killed. They reported that the FBI together with Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI, Pakistan's notorious intelligence agency, conducted a raid aimed at capturing Mohammed alive. "However, despite instructions to the contrary, a few Pakistan Rangers entered the flat, where they found Shaikh Mohammed and another man, allegedly with their hands up. The Rangers nevertheless opened fire on the pair. ... Later, the Pakistani press carried pictures of a message scrawled in blood on the wall of the flat, proclaiming the Muslim refrain of Kalma, in Arabic: 'There is no God except Allah, Mohammed is his messenger'). An official who was present in the flat at the time of the shooting has told Asia Times Online that the message was written by Shaikh Mohammed with his own blood as his life drained from him." His wife and two children, captured in the raid, confirmed his identity. [Asia Times, 10/30/02] An Australian newspaper repeated that the view that he was killed, and added, "Some reports went so far as to suggest his wife and son had identified his body and buried him under the watchful eye of the FBI." [Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03]


ASIM MUGHAL, PAK NEWS - There are shrill cries of success and sighs of relief surrounding a news report that is being hailed as the biggest catch so far: No.3 man, Sheikh Khalid Muhammad, of the dreaded Al Qaida is captured, alive! The biggest success in the global war against terrorism. This is certainly excellent news and both the Pakistani and the American authorities deserve congratulations. Unfortunately, while the coalition is claiming success, there is a run for taking the credit. The American version of the news from likes of CNN, Fox news, MSNBC hardly mentions the Pakistani role and makes it sound like Sheikh Khalid Muhammad was captured somewhere in Texas, not from Rawalpindi. The Pakistani version earlier claimed this to be a joint operation but now it is claimed to be 100% Pakistani operation. The contradictions do not stop here. Americans claim that Sheikh Khalid Muhammad is in their custody and is now being interrogated for the second day. Whereas the Pakistanis are saying that he has not been extradited to any country. Furthermore, it is being said that Sheikh Khalid will be extradited to Kuwait. Now why Kuwait one asks? Sheikh Khalid Muhammad is being referred to as a citizen of anywhere from Kuwait, Pakistan, Yemen, up to holding 20 passports of different countries. What is his real nationality? Now, about his role as the key planner of all past terrorism acts and all future acts. It is said that Khalid was the chief/key planner of 9/11 attacks? But wasn't that attributed to Osama Bin Laden? But wait! It was not too long ago that it was claimed that "key planner of the attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh" was arrested.

So, who is the real man? A more troubling problem is that it was reported by both American and Pakistani authorities back in September 2002 that Sheikh Khalid Muhammad was killed in a raid. The reason we remember him vividly was the way his death was dramatized. He was reported as writing words on a wall with his own blood as he was dying. It was reported a few days after the report of a raid that Khalid's wife and children were in custody and being interrogated. So, maybe all this very confusing to an average bunch of people like us, but perhaps someone can tell us who the real Sheikh Khalid Muhammad is? How can Sheikh Khalid Muhammad be in America, Pakistan and Kuwait at the same time? If he died in the gun battle on Sept 15, 2002 in Karachi, who has been raided and arrested on March 3, 2003? We will all feel much safer when told the truth, rather than some raids and captures which do not add up, as it seems.


ROBERT FISK, INDEPENDENT - There was the slow revelation that the man whose arrest was described by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer as "a wonderful blow to inflict on Al Qaeda," had been handed over to Pakistani authorities (if indeed he had been handed over) by the ISI, the Pakistani Interservices Intelligence - for whom Mohammed used to work. Like the man accused of arranging the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, Mohammed was an ISI asset; indeed, anyone who is "handed over" by the ISI these days is almost certainly a former (or present) employee of the Pakistani agency whose control of Taliban operatives amazed even the Pakistani government during the years before 2001. Pearl, it should be remembered, arranged his fatal assignation in Karachi on a mobile phone from an ISI office in the city.

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING - The sister of a Pakistani [Ahmed Quddus] arrested in a swoop that authorities say also netted the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks has said he [Ahmed Quddus] was the only man present at the time of the raid and had no ties to any extremist group. Pakistani authorities said on Saturday local time they had arrested three Al Qaeda suspects in an early morning raid on a house in the city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad. Those held included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and 41-year-old Pakistani Ahmed Quddus, they said. . . However, members of Quddus's family said he was the only person arrested in a raid by 20 to 25 security men armed with Kalashnikov rifles on their house in Westridge, a middle-class area of Rawalpindi at 22:30 GMT Friday. "My brother was the only man in the house when the raid took place," his sister Qudsia Khanum said.

"He was taken away while his wife and kids were herded into a room and locked in. They didn't even know when they took him... or where. My brother has never been involved in any bad things. Actually, he's a bit slow, he's not very clever, so I can't even begin to imagine that he could be involved with any terrorist organization. "He does not have any links with any terrorist organization. "They're saying such strange things about him in the press. He's been living in the neighborhood for 15 years and everyone knows him to be a placid person."

. . . Some analysts questioned whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had actually been arrested on Saturday and speculated he may have been held for some time. "I think he was arrested [or 'killed' according to the Asia Times reporting on a ISI/FBI operation] several months ago in the shootout in Karachi," one expert on Pakistan who declined to be identified said, referring to a gun battle in September in the southern port city that netted another Al Qaeda figure, Ahmed Omar Abdel Rahman, known as Binalshibh. Mohammed was reported to have narrowly evaded capture in that battle, when Karachi police identified him as a man hit by a police sniper. But a suspected militant later denied this.

Another terror expert said several weeks ago he believed Mohammed had been arrested and that he expected the news would be only be made public when it was in the interests of the United States and Pakistan. The first analyst said the arrest could make Islamic militants even more wary of the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence that they had considered an ally when the country was backing the Taliban in Afghanistan before September 11. "Those who think they have ISI protection will stop feeling that comfort level," he said.

Pakistani officials said on Sunday local time that Mohammed had been handed over to US custody soon after his arrest.

RORY MCCARTHY, GUARDIAN, UK - Yesterday the Khan family who live at the two-story gray house at 18a Nisar Road, where officials say they found Mohammed, gave a very different account of the raid. Dr Abdul Quddus Khan, 78, a retired microbiologist who runs a respected cardiology institute lives at the house with his wife Mahlaqa, their son Ahmed, 42, his wife and their two young children. Dr Khan and his wife were at a wedding in Lahore on Friday.

At 3 am on Saturday a squad of around 20 armed police and intelligence officers kicked open the door and burst into the house. They dragged away Ahmed and held his wife and children at gunpoint for an hour as they ransacked the house, according to Ahmed's sister Qudsia.

"They left clothes and books strewn on the floor and took a bundle of dollar bills which were locked in a cupboard," she said. "The bedrooms were turned upside down, one door upstairs was broken and they took the new computer," she said.

At no point, the family say, was Mohammed or any other man in the house. The agents did not even ask about them. "The only people in the house were my brother, his wife and their kids," Qudsia said. "I have absolutely no idea why the police came here."

Officials at Pakistan's interior ministry insist they found Mohammed and one other Arab al-Qaida suspect in the house and arrested them at the same time as Ahmed was detained. Yet the family and their supporters challenge the official account and say Mohammed must have been arrested in another raid at another time.


BILL GERTZ, WASHINGTON TIMES - U.S. intelligence agencies say Osama bin Laden's oldest son, Sad, is in Iran along with other senior al Qaeda terrorists, as Iranian military forces have been placed on their highest state of alert in anticipation of a U.S. attack on Iraq, according to intelligence officials. Sad bin Laden was spotted in Iran last month, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports. Sad is believed to be a key leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network since U.S. and allied forces ousted the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan. Officials said it is not clear what relationship Sad has with the Tehran government, which on Thursday denied congressional testimony by CIA Director George J. Tenet that al Qaeda terrorists are in Iran. The new reports are the first time senior al Qaeda terrorists have been identified in Iran.

THE AFGHAN CHIEF of military intelligence, Hazrat Uddin, says he has received "credible reports" that terror leader Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, were seen inside Pakistan, Newsweek reports in the current issue. The source said bin Laden trimmed his beard and appeared healthy, Uddin tells Newsweek. A second Afghan commander, Kamal Khan Zadran, says he thinks Osama's men are trying to keep their leader safe inside Pakistan. "The local al Qaeda network is active," he says. "They're working out their plans."

THE AFGHAN CHIEF of military intelligence, Hazrat Uddin, says he has received "credible reports" that terror leader Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, were seen inside Pakistan, Newsweek reports in the current issue. The source said bin Laden trimmed his beard and appeared healthy, Uddin tells Newsweek. A second Afghan commander, Kamal Khan Zadran, says he thinks Osama's men are trying to keep their leader safe inside Pakistan. "The local al Qaeda network is active," he says. "They're working out their plans."

WORLD TRIBUNE - Osama Bin Laden appears to be dead but his colleagues have decided that Al Qaida and its insurgency campaign against the United States will continue, Israeli intelligence sources said. . . The Israeli sources said Israel and the United States assess that Bin Laden probably died in the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in December. They said the emergence of new messages by Bin Laden are probably fabrications, Middle East News line reported.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON - We all know who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, don't we? No, not Osama bin Laden. God, that is so last year. It never turns out to be the person you first suspect. It was Saddam Hussein. For some reason we couldn't find him when we went after him in Afghanistan, bringing that magic elixir of regime change along with us. But now we've got a better idea: track him down where he actually lives, in Baghdad, and punish him right in his own backyard. It's the only way to obtain justice for the thousands he killed on 9/11. At least that's the way the White House is now pitching the story.

In this latest rewrite of history, Osama has suddenly lost his beard and grown a mustache, morphing into the Butcher of Baghdad -- or one of the look-alike stand-ins Saddam has been using for public appearances since 1998. "You can't distinguish between Al-Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," said President Bush in the Oval Office last week.

Really? He can't differentiate between a group of evil ultra-radical Islamic fundamentalists that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and an evil secular nationalist who, despite the frantic efforts of the Bush administration, has not been directly linked to 9/11? He'd better start making such distinctions -- and fast. When every expert who knows anything about the Mideast can distinguish between the two, is it too much to ask that a President who's ready to go to war look a bit more closely?


WASHINGTON POST - Osama's been languishing seven months without a mention in a presidential speech. When al Qaeda's leader eluded capture in Afghanistan, President Bush gradually reduced his prominence in speeches to de-emphasize his individual importance. Now, with Saddam Hussein the villain of the hour and the Sept. 11 mastermind's coordinates still unknown, Osama bin Laden has fallen entirely from Bush's lexicon. A search of the White House Web site indicates Bush has not made an unprompted mention of bin Laden's name since March 8. That day, at a GOP gathering in Florida, the president spoke of "this bin Laden fellow," and vowed: "We're going to find him." The last time Bush spoke the hated name in any public forum was a July 8 press conference, in which he was specifically asked if he would find bin Laden. Lately, Bush has avoided mentioning the Evil One's name even when asked about him directly. At a Cabinet meeting last week, when a reporter asked Bush about Al Gore's charge that Iraq was deflecting attention from the failure to get bin Laden, Bush replied that "Saddam is a true threat to America.". . . GOP pollster and wordsmith Frank Luntz said mentioning the chief Evil Doer "conjures up questions that nobody can answer," because the government doesn't know if he's still alive. "We're trying to declare a certain moral certainty," Luntz said. "The effort is to remove all gray areas, and this adds a gray area."


PATRICK E. TYLER, NY TIMES - President Bush has formally changed the face of America's primary enemy from Osama bin Laden, whereabouts unknown, to Saddam Hussein, an old nemesis who cheated both Mr. Bush's father and President Clinton out of fulfillment of the terms of surrender that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf war.


REUTERS - Osama bin Laden is firmly back in command of al Qaeda and the group is digging in for guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, an Arab journalist with close ties to the militant's associates said. Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said al Qaeda associates recently told him the network had regained confidence after facing intense U.S. bombing and was ready to fight U.S. troops over the long haul. "Al Qaeda were shattered during the U.S. bombing so it was difficult for bin Laden to stay in control. Now they said he is fully in command again and they have regrouped and are organized again," Atwan told Reuters. "Al Qaeda people say they are relaxed now and they will fight a war of attrition against U.S. soldiers," added Atwan, who interviewed bin Laden in 1996 and keeps in contact with his associates and followers. Bin Laden was in good health and "safe" and was planning new attacks on the United States, he was told, but his whereabouts were not disclosed.

UPI - Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network will carry out a series of operations in August and the suspected terrorist mastermind will appear in a taped recording soon after that, the London-based Ash Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported. Sources, who the newspaper said were close to bin Laden's supporters, told Ash Sharq al-Awsat al Qaida had completed plans for its operation. Targets were not mentioned, however . . . They also said bin Laden was well . . . The sources said bin Laden would shed light on "the success of al Qaida in containing attacks launched by the United States, on rebuilding and reorganizing its ranks ... and carrying out attacks in various countries of the world against U.S. interests."

APRIL 2002

DAN RATHER, CBS, January 28, 2002 - As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11. This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden. CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

"The military had him surrounded," says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, "and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time," he says, "I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after." Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

AHMED RASHID, TALIBAN EXPERT: There were reports that Pakistani intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines. And the rumor was that these were wanted for Osama bin Laden.

PETERSEN: Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night. But it was Pakistan`s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am - don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

GEORGE BUSH - "Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. . . He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all. . . So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied."


||| MUHAMMAD SAMMAN, ARAB NEWS - Osama Bin Laden's half brother told CNN that the Al-Qaeda leader is not only alive, but does not suffer from a kidney disease that requires dialysis. Ahmad Muhammad Al-Attas also said that his brother Osama was not behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. "He is my brother. I know him. I lived with him for years. I know how much he fears God," Ahmad said in an interview with CNN. Ahmad and Bin Laden have the same mother but different fathers . . .

Ahmad said that their mother learned through a telephone call three weeks ago that Osama was well, without revealing the source of the call. However, Ahmad affirmed that the call was true and that his brother Osama is fine. Informed Bin Laden family sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, that Ahmad's statement did not represent the family's views. "It's his personal opinion," the sources said. They also pointed out that Ahmad had no relation with the Bin Laden Group's activities.


ROWAN SCARBOROUGH, WASHINGTON TIMES - U.S. intelligence sources believe Osama bin Laden has been wounded during the war in Afghanistan and is never too far from his top aide, Egyptian physician Ayman al Zawahiri. Senior intelligence officials said bin Laden, the world's most wanted fugitive, likely was wounded twice during intense American bombings in eastern Afghanistan. "He may have been wounded more than once," one official said. The official said an assessment that bin Laden was wounded had become a "firm belief" by some military analysts. Intelligence officials say most recent reports put bin Laden somewhere in eastern Afghanistan or just over the border in the generally lawless northwest frontier region of Pakistan. They say he is provided safe passage by friendly Pashtun tribesmen who have supported the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist army. "Where bin Laden is depends on what Pashtun tribes he's with since he's been on both sides of the border," an official said. The sources say evidence points to Zawahiri briefly staying in the Shah-e-Kot Valley, shortly before U.S. Central Command mounted a major ground and air assault there on al Qaeda cave hide-outs. The officials said he apparently left the area and might have crossed back into Pakistan before the offensive began on March 2. . . . "He is still . . . a political force, someone that's looked up to by a lot of people in the Islamic world," [Senator Richard Shelby] said. "I don't know if he's alive or dead. I suspect that he's alive, but I believe if he's alive, he will show himself. He always does. And we will find him."


||| CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA, TIMES OF INDIA - The popular American theory that money talks, or at least it makes people talk, is in dire threat of being disproved in Afghanistan. The $25 million bounty Uncle Sam has offered for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden hasn't worked, because, US officials are now saying, the Afghans can't comprehend just how large the sum is. The result: Uncle Sam is now "downsizing" the reward. The US will now offer to build a road, dig a well, or give away a flock of sheep to Afghan communities that rat on Bin Laden. The change in the "booty treatment" comes after American officials in the region found that poor Afghan peasants were clueless about Big Money. A general reportedly asked an Afghan what he could do with $25 million if he helped the United States find Osama Bin Laden. The local replied that the money might be enough to feed his nine children for a year. So the Bush administration has now considered a $5 million discretionary fund to pay for basic inducements such as cash, livestock or help drilling a well. The hope is that average Afghans, many of whom are poor and illiterate, can relate to owning a flock of sheep more than becoming a millionaire.

Deep in my heart I know the man's on the run - if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We haven't heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me that people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terrorism is bigger than one person and he's a person who's now been marginalized. I don't know where he is. I just don't spend that much time on it. - GEORGE BUSH

[Bush's memory is about as good as his diction]

DAN BALZ, WASHINGTON POST, September 18, 2001 - President Bush warned the nation yesterday to prepare for U.S. military casualties in the coming war against terrorism and, in his bluntest language since last week's attacks on New York and Washington, said he wants Osama Bin Laden brought to justice "dead or alive." "We will win the war and there will be costs," Bush said after a meeting with Pentagon officials . . .

||| DANIEL MCGRORY, TIMES, LONDON - Thousands of FBI agents have rounded up more than 1,300 suspects across America since September 11, but they have failed to find a single al-Qaeda cell operating in the United States. Tom Ridge, the Director of Homeland Security, admitted that he suspected that there were active cells in the US, but he could not explain why none had been caught. . . Security authorities in more than 60 countries have arrested suspects linked to Osama bin Laden, but none of the hundreds detained has yet been found to have any links with terrorism.


Only two of the top 20 most-wanted al-Qaeda suspects are known to have been caught or killed: Mohammed Atef, third-in-command to Osama bin Laden, died in a rocket attack on Kabul; and Anas al-Liby, a computer expert who lived in Manchester and is said to have helped to compile al-Qaeda’s terrorist training manual, has been arrested. No one in the American military or intelligence services knows where bin Laden is.

While the British and other governments accept that many of their young Muslims traveled to Afghanistan for training in al-Qaeda camps, the only American accused of following that path is John Walker, “the American Taleban” who is facing trial in Washington.


||| THOMAS E. RICKS WASHINGTON POST - Recent intelligence reports indicate that Osama bin Laden survived the U.S. bombing assault on his hideouts in Afghanistan and could still be somewhere in the lawless, mountainous region that straddles the Afghan-Pakistan border, officials said yesterday. The reports were distributed at top levels of the U.S. government about 10 days ago. They are somewhat vague, and don't involve solid evidence such as sightings by witnesses or interception of radio transmissions of the voice of the terrorist leader, one official said . . . DAVID SANGER NY TIMES - But capturing or killing bin Laden looks like "a long-term proposition", the official said. Military spokesmen also said that none of the recent information had been specific enough to mount new attacks on suspected hideouts, and officials cautioned that the new evidence was far from definitive.

Well, we still don't know, but guess who's captured his most senior lieutenant?
None other than that Axis of Evil member itself: Iran.

GUARDIAN, LONDON - Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenant, the Egyptian militant Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been captured and jailed in Tehran, a leading Iranian newspaper reported. Zawahiri, the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was arrested several days ago and has been imprisoned in the city's Evin jail, where political prisoners are usually held, the Hayat-e-Nou newspaper said. If the report is correct, the arrest is the most serious strike at the heart of Bin Laden's al-Qaida network since the World Trade Center attacks, and a diplomatic coup for Tehran.The FBI has Zawahiri on its most-wanted list in connection with the August 1998 bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in which 224 people were killed. It has offered a $25m reward for information leading to his capture.



||| REUTERS - U.S. planes bombed suspected Taliban and al Qaeda positions in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as a missile attack by a pilotless CIA drone triggered speculation that Osama bin Laden himself had been killed. U.S. officials in Washington said they believed a tall al Qaeda leader had been killed in the CIA missile strike in the east of the country but the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency said three Afghan civilians had been killed.

||| JAMES RISEN WITH JUDITH MILLER, NY TIMES - A month after United States officials expressed confidence that they had cornered Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, they now acknowledge that they have lost track of the terrorist leader and are increasingly frustrated over the virtual absence of intelligence on his whereabouts. The officials say they have had no firm fix on Mr. bin Laden since early December, when intelligence agents believe that they overheard him directing troops over a short-wave radio in the Tora Bora area of southeastern Afghanistan. "He has gone silent," one official said. MORE

While you're waiting for bin Laden to show up you might want to play "Quest for Al'Qa-eda," now available on the web where it is described as a "A 1st Person Perspective Shooter computer game on the order of Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake, etc. . . . Osama and his cronies must be hunted down and destroyed. You are dropped in the heart of Al-Qa'eda territory. You must fight your way through hordes of Osama's "men" in your Quest For Al-Qa'eda.


||| DAVID WASTELL, TELEGRAPH, LONDON - American military chiefs believe that the global war against terrorism will last at least six years. Pentagon officials are being advised to draw up budgets and plans to buy new equipment on the assumption that the struggle against al-Qa'eda and other international terrorist groups will endure until 2008, and perhaps even longer. Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, has won President Bush's backing for a sharp increase in military spending . . . The increased spending will continue whether or not Osama bin Laden is found soon. It follows signs that the Pentagon is wearying of the intense public interest in the hunt for the al-Qa'eda leader, and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader . . . John McCain, a senator and former chairman of the armed services committee, said on his return from a trip to the Afghan region that he felt frustrated that bin Laden was still at large . . . Officials say that they will no longer even hint at where they think he might be. Not only did bin Laden apparently escape, but so have a series of Taliban leaders over the past two weeks, almost certainly including Mullah Omar, raising questions about the competence or possible corruption of the Afghan forces. MORE

STILL NO SIGHTINGS of the original target of this exercise - Osama bin Laden - but with a solemnity usually reserved for the roundup of major Mafia figures, Bush warlord John Ashcroft announced multiple charges against a screwed-up, twenty-something American who ended up fighting for the Taliban. That's not as good as capturing bin Laden, but at least John Walker Lindh did meet bin Laden once, which is more than anyone at the Pentagon can claim . . . Meanwhile, American military might is still being directed at the destruction of empty caves.

WE REGRET to report that neither bin Laden nor the Mullah Omar has been spotted today by either the media or the Pentagon.

||| ABC NEWS - An intelligence analysis sent to the CIA director last week concluded Osama bin Laden has escaped American efforts to find him in Afghanistan and that he most likely has fled the entire region by sea, ABC NEWS has learned. In a major setback to the war on terrorism, CIA analysts have concluded bin Laden escaped from the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and into Pakistan around the first week of December, intelligence officials said.

||| ROWAN SCARBOROUGH WASHINGTON TIMES - The Pentagon declared victory in the battle of Zawar Kili, saying its forces had cleansed the huge terror complex of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda fighters, destroyed 60 buildings and closed 50 cave hide-outs.

||| SAYING THAT WASHINGTON heard "six, seven, eight, 10, 12 conflicting reports every day," about bin Laden's whereabouts, Bush warlord Donald Rumsfeld said, "We do know of certain knowledge that he is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead. And we know of certain knowledge that we don't know which of those happens to be the case."

||| AP: Pakistan's president said he believes Osama bin Laden is dead, the victim of kidney failure during the U.S. bombing campaign against Afghanistan CNN said Friday. ``I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason that he is a patient, a kidney patient,'' President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN broadcast. ``We know that he donated two dialysis machines into Afghanistan. One was specifically for his own personal use.'' However, U.S. officials have no evidence that bin Laden has had severe kidney problems, much less died of them, one official said, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity . . . Bin Laden has long been rumored to be suffering from several illnesses, including kidney and heart trouble. None of the ailments has been confirmed.

[In fact, bin Laden's kidney problem have been confirmed by various media reports including a March 2000 story on CBS. With the exception of the Review and a few others , however, the kidney angle disappeared with the World Trade Center attacks. This may be because it did not help to declare a massive war against someone on dialysis. And the media would rather quote "US officials" than look at their own clip files.]

||| GEORGE REALLY DOESN'T KNOW where Osama bin Laden is but will you settle for a mixed-up Muslim from Marin County? . . .On the other hand, those ever perceptive "senior US officials" do have an idea. No sooner had word come from Pakistan that bin Laden might be dead of kidney failure, when Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times suggests that the man may not only be an evil-doer but a malingerer as well: "U.S. intelligence has noticed a lack of communication in recent weeks by those close to Osama bin Laden, causing some analysts to believe he may be executing a ruse to convince Washington he is dead, officials say. "We don't see any of his Indians doing anything on his behalf," a senior U.S. official said. After the al Qaeda haven of Tora Bora fell to anti-Taliban forces Dec. 17, the United States concluded that bin Laden was still alive based, in part, on tracking individuals known to help the master terrorist. But intelligence officials said in interviews that those activities had recently stopped. Officials said a small minority of intelligence analysts believe the dry spell could indicate that bin Laden is dead. He appeared tired and stressed in his last known video diatribe taped in early December, during which his normally active left arm remained motionless throughout. There is a faint hope among some Bush administration officials that bin Laden was killed during the heavy bombing of his prime terror camp near the eastern city of Khost. But no evidence has surfaced to support that theory, officials said. The senior officials said the mainstream intelligence assessment is that bin Laden has gone deep under the extensive U.S. intelligence gathering net in hopes Washington will conclude that he died. "I believe it's a ruse," the senior official said. "I don't believe he's dead. We'll believe he's dead when we have the DNA."

||| FORGET that business about Omar and Osama being in Pakistan. We now have it on the word of leading Bush warlord Donald Rumsfeld that they are still in Afghanistan. Writes the New York Times: "Asked at a Pentagon news briefing whether he would concede that Mr. bin Laden, who is accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Mullah Omar, the Taliban spiritual leader, had simply 'vanished,' the Secretary rejected that term. " He then made this startling revelation: "They know where they are. They know who they are. They know we're looking for them."

It sort of reminds us of the fellow down to Waldoboro who asked the Maine farmer how to get to Portland. The farmer puzzled about for awhile and then admitted that he couldn't rightly tell. "You don't know much," chastised the tourist. "Well," said the farmer, "I ain't lost."

Rumsfeld also told reporters that "pursuing this is fruitless, orally."

Adds the Times: "Mr. Rumsfeld said he continued to see a lot of intelligence on the possible whereabouts of the two men. 'It's all specific,' he said. 'Most of it is wrong, but it's all specific.'"

||| DAVID WASTELL, TELEGRAPH, LONDON - American military chiefs believe that the global war against terrorism will last at least six years. Pentagon officials are being advised to draw up budgets and plans to buy new equipment on the assumption that the struggle against al-Qa'eda and other international terrorist groups will endure until 2008, and perhaps even longer. Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, has won President Bush's backing for a sharp increase in military spending . . . The increased spending will continue whether or not Osama bin Laden is found soon. It follows signs that the Pentagon is wearying of the intense public interest in the hunt for the al-Qa'eda leader, and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader . . . John McCain, a senator and former chairman of the armed services committee, said on his return from a trip to the Afghan region that he felt frustrated that bin Laden was still at large . . . Officials say that they will no longer even hint at where they think he might be. Not only did bin Laden apparently escape, but so have a series of Taliban leaders over the past two weeks, almost certainly including Mullah Omar, raising questions about the competence or possible corruption of the Afghan forces.

||| ABC NEWS - An intelligence analysis sent to the CIA director last week concluded Osama bin Laden has escaped American efforts to find him in Afghanistan and that he most likely has fled the entire region by sea, ABC NEWS has learned. In a major setback to the war on terrorism, CIA analysts have concluded bin Laden escaped from the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and into Pakistan around the first week of December, intelligence officials said.

||| JAN 10 - WE REGRET to report that neither bin Laden nor the Mullah Omar has been spotted today by either the media or the Pentagon.

||| BOSTON GLOBE: Bin Laden hunt to turn from caves. . . FINANCIAL TIMES: US troops are set to pursue enemy leaders into Pakistan as fears grow that Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, and some of his key lieutenants have escaped over the border from Afghanistan.

||| BOSTON GLOBE, Jan 7 BIN LADEN HUNT focuses on Pakistan. Troops scour trails, slopes in remote region.

||| THE US HOPES TO GLEAN information about the whereabouts of Mullah Mohammed Omar from two captured Taliban and al-Qaida officials, reports the Guardian on Jan 7. Mullah Omar's "great escape" and the disappearance of Osama bin Laden is causing consternation in Washington, it adds.

||| ACCORDING TO KEVIN CANTERA of the Salt Lake City Tribune, federal agents in Utah have received numerous reports of bin Laden's presence including spottings on a freeways, in a mall, and eating a big Mac with fries at Micky D's . . . Says Lt. Charles Illsley of the West Valley City UT Police Department, "We have checked every cave in town and turned up nothing."

||| TRAIL FOR OMAR and bin Laden Growing Cold - Reuters, Jan 6

||| THE PENTAGON said it would no longer be providing regular updates on the guerilla's whereabouts.

||| THE U.S. MILITARY is winding up its unsuccessful search for Osama bin Laden at the bomb-shattered Tora Bora cave complex while targeting al-Qaida and Taliban remnants in air and ground attacks to stop them from regrouping. - WTOP WASHINGTON

||| US EFFORTS ARE NOW concentrated on ensuring al-Qaida cannot regroup rather than continuing to search Tora Bora for Osama bin Laden, the US commander said today. - THE GUARDIAN

||| MULLAH OMAR likely fled on a motorcycle - NY TIMES

||| Q - ANY INFORMATION ON THE WHEREABOUTS of bin Laden or Omar? Is there a new pursuit underway now? . . . THE PRESIDENT: No. Yes, I mean, the same pursuit: we're going to get him and it's just a matter of when. You know, you hear all kinds of reports and all kinds of rumors. You've got people saying he's in a cave, people saying he's dead, people saying he's in Pakistan. And all I know is that he's running - and any time you get a person running, it means you're going to get him pretty soon.

||| ACCORDING TO THE TABLOID GLOBE, bin Laden has met "his end whimpering like a coward," as proved by a photo of his corpse. OBL died at Tora Bora on December 15 and although "he cursed the bombers, he was very afraid of dying" and demanded medical attention. The Americans "told him to stop complaining and die like a man." Incidentally, the Globe has also come up with documents that prove that bin Laden killed Princess Diana.

||| SO NOW WE LEARN that the Northern Alliance and the Bush administration have captured all of Afghanistan and Osama bin Ladin isn't there. This would seem to suggest (a) that it was not necessary to capture of all Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Ladin and (b) that there were probably better ways of going about it. We would like to sincerely apologize to the refugees and the families of all the dead Afghans civilians for any inconvenience this has caused them.


||| NAVEED MIRAJ, FRONTIER POST, PARKISTAN: Twenty six more bodies of United Special Forces members have reached Jacobabad air base for onward transportation to the United States, The Frontier Post learnt. These commandos were killed in an operation involving storming of a suspected hideout of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, well placed sources said. Their bodies were flown to Jacobabad after US Special Forces were able to airlift them out of Afghanistan. The sources said that US Special Forces unit raided a suspected bin Laden hideout near Kandahar. The unit met some resistance from the guards, but were successful in going inside the hideout and undertaking intelligence tasks. However, they did not find bin Laden or anyone of his close associates there.

||| TIMES, LONDON - Osama bin Laden was left isolated and on the run in Afghanistan after the routed Taleban leadership left him to his fate. The Taleban, who harboured their guest for years and refused to hand him over after the September 11 attacks, declared that he no longer enjoyed their protection and was beyond their help. With most of Afghanistan now in the hands of opposition groups, and the Taleban reduced to two shrinking pockets of control around Konduz and Kandahar, bin Laden and his al-Qaeda supporters found themselves alone and for the first time on the front line of the war . . . Bin Laden, who is travelling with his three wives, children, bodyguards and advisers, is thought to be moving in a convoy of Jeeps from one bunker to another. Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taleban's Ambassador to Pakistan, displayed little interest in his fate. "I do not know where he is; whether he is in other areas of Afghanistan or has left Afghanistan," he said. "But I know this much: he is not in the area of our control." MORE

[Next: Bin Laden, we have oft been told, has never been caught because he is so elusive. The US military and CIA apparently never checked with one of the neighbors]

*** WASHINGTON TIMES - Looters have carried off almost everything of value from the football field-sized fortress that was the summer residence of Osama bin Laden, the presumed mastermind of the September 11 atrocities. Five armed men were taking what little of value remained - two canvas tents, a toy truck and a bag of rice. "We're protecting this place," one of them claimed. Brick walls covered with mud divide the compound known to residents as "Osama house" into apartments for visitors and barracks for bodyguards. What served as bin Laden's own bedroom and study is a modest one-room concrete structure with a wall fan and a shelf full of books written in Arabic. Other apartments facing the same courtyard may have housed his three wives and numerous children. In the dust outside lie the partially used remains of a month's supply of birth-control pills . . . Until three weeks before the start of the U.S. bombing campaign on Oct. 7, locals say bin Laden plotted his strategy from this compound and the governor's palace in Jalalabad. MORE


*** HA'ARETZ DAILY, ISRAEL: Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, had a meeting with an official of the CIA just two months earlier, the newspaper Le Figaro claimed. The meeting allegedly took place between July 4 and 14, while bin Laden was being treated for a serious kidney ailment at the American Hospital in Dubai, the paper said, citing as its source an "unnamed professional associate of the hospital's administration." During his stay at the hospital, bin Laden was visited by several family members, officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and by the local representative of the CIA. The intelligence official was seen taking the hospital elevator to the floor on which bin Laden's room was located, Le Figaro claimed. "What Le Figaro has published is wrong. Osama bin Laden was never treated in the hospital or outside the hospital by our doctors. The report is completely baseless", Bernard Koval, manager of the American Hospital in Dubai, told DPA. Le Figaro reported that the CIA agent - who was not named - had boasted several days later to several friends that he had visited the Saudi millionaire. According to what Le Figaro termed "official" sources, the agent was called back to CIA headquarters in the United States on July 15, the day after bin Laden left Dubai for the city of Quetta, in Pakistan. At the time of the meeting, bin Laden was already wanted in the United States for his alleged responsibility for the terrorist attacks, in August 1998, on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed more than 200 people and for the October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole, in which 19 U.S. Navy sailors died. Le Figaro wrote that the CIA's ties with bin Laden date back to 1979 when the Saudi millionaire began enlisting volunteers to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. The meeting in Dubai, claimed the newspaper, was therefore "the logical consequence of certain American policies." Describing bin Laden's illness, Le Figaro cites a March 2000 story in Asia Week which reported that bin Laden suffered from an acute kidney infection that was spreading to his liver and required specialized treatment.

||| REUTERS: Exiled Saudi Arabian dissident Osama bin Laden is dying of kidney failure, according to a published report. Asia Week, quoting a Western intelligence source who has been tracking him, said in its latest edition the kidney disease had begun to affect bin Laden's liver and associates were trying to obtain a dialysis machine to stabilize his condition . . . The weekly news magazine said bin Laden, 45, who is in Afghanistan, remained mostly conscious and was able to talk and hold meetings. But the man is dying, Asia Week quoted the source as saying.

||| NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT, TIMES, LONDON: Special forces hunting Osama bin Laden are working on a new geological clue that he is hiding in sandstone caves south of Kabul. A distinguished American geologist, who has spent years in the mountains of Afghanistan, has told security services that he recognized the rock strata behind the terrorist leader in the video broadcast after the September 11 attacks. John Ford Shroder, 62, a professor in the geology department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said the type of sedimentary rock behind bin Laden was only found in the Paktia and Paktika provinces about 125 miles from Kabul in the southeast of Afghanistan near Pakistan. "I turned to my wife and told her, 'I know where he is'," he said. His evidence has been backed up independently by a British geologist whose views have been passed on to the security services in this country. Allan Rogers, a former member of the Government's Security and Intelligence Committee, said that he had been contacted by the geologist just after the video was shown.


[Luckily, Congress never passed an Arabs with Disabilities Act because it might have considerably complicated the war effort and its accompanying spin. One of the best kept secrets of the current conflict is the fact that our mortal enemies are in fact mortal, perhaps precariously so. The blackout on the health angle occurs despite both CBS and ABC having run stories about it a year and a half ago. Note also that bin Laden may well owe his present existence to the solicitude of our new ally General Musharraf

||| PAKISTAN NEWS SERVICE: Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar, currently defying the United States and its allies demand to hand over Osama bin Laden, is mentally unstable and suffered fits, The Sunday Telegraph said. "He locks himself away for two or three days at a time and the official line is that he is having visions, but in fact he is suffering from brain seizures," the doctor who attends Omar was quoted as saying. This mental instability was the real reason why Omar the 43-year- old cleric is so reclusive, The Sunday Telegraph in a report from its correspondent in Quetta said without disclosing the identity of the doctor who feared he would be killed. Doctors believe that Omar's mood swings may be a result of a shrapnel lodged in his brain when he lost an eye in 1989 during a Russian rocket attack on his mosque. Apart from these fits, The Sunday Telegraph reported, the Taliban leader also suffered from serious depression, alternating with bouts of childlike behavior where he sits in the driving seat of one of his cars, turning the wheel while making the noise of an engine. Only one photograph existed of Omar adding that he was rarely seen outside the bomb-proof house built for him in Kandahar by Osama bin Laden, and most Afghans had no idea what he looked like. Omar had never traveled abroad, except for Pakistan, and had seen little of his country, only visiting Kabul twice. When he did venture out, it was in a convoy of Japanese off-road vehicles with darkened windows and gun-totting bodyguards.

||| SOUTH ASIA ANALYSIS GROUP, February 7, 2001: Independent reports from Islamabad and Peshawar suggest that . . . Bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar military hospital with the knowledge and approval of the Inter-Services Intelligence, if not of Gen. Pervez Musharraf himself.

||| CBS, March 16, 2000: Suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden reportedly is dying of kidney disease . . . The Hong Kong-based magazine Asia Week reports kidney disease is starting to affect bin Laden's liver . . . The weekly news magazine, quoting "a Western intelligence source who has been tracking him," said the Saudi Arabian millionaire remains mostly conscious and is able to talk and hold meetings. The kidney disease reportedly had begun to affect bin Laden's liver and associates were trying to obtain a dialysis machine to stabilize his condition. But "the man is dying," Asia Week quoted the source as saying.

||| JANE'S INTELLIGENCE DIGEST, September 2001: As the United States plans its military response to last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the role of Pakistan - and the position of the country's unelected military leader, General Pervez Musharraf - have become key questions. JID investigates and warns that, should the general fall as a result of offering overt support to the USA in its campaign against the Taliban, the consequences - both for the US-led alliance and the entire region - could be potentially catastrophic . . . Having started the year with the prospect of building a new and more positive relationship with the incoming administration of US President George W. Bush, pressure is now mounting on Musharraf as embarrassing evidence of Islamabad's active support for the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan comes under intense scrutiny. One of the more difficult issues which the general may have to explain is the close links between two Islamic militant groups involved in the Kashmir region and the world's most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. The two groups in question, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e Tayyiba, were specifically singled-out in the US State Department's Report on the Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2000 . . . Other awkward questions will focus on allegations that Pakistan has hosted training camps for militant Islamic groups and provided them with financial assistance - charges which Musharraf's officials have repeatedly denied - and that Pakistan has been used as the regular transit route via which Bin Laden's Al-Qa'eda group has traveled. In particular, there are serious allegations that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence organization has active links with both the Taliban regime's intelligence service and Bin Laden himself. According to local intelligence sources, the Pakistani authorities have provided medical facilities for the ailing Bin Laden, including renal dialysis, at a military hospital in Peshawar. None of this will be unfamiliar to US intelligence operatives who have been compiling extensive reports on these alleged activities. However, it is becoming clear that both the Taliban and Al-Qa'eda would have found it difficult to have continued functioning - including the latter group's terrorist activities - without substantial aid and support from Islamabad.

||| MSNBC, March 25, 2000: Bin Laden, a Saudi exile accused by the United States of organizing the deadly 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was seen March 17 with 100 followers in a remote mountain valley in Afghanistan's eastern Laghman province, said an Afghan who attended the meeting. "He is very much weak. His face is very thin," said the man, who has close contacts with Afghanistan's ruling militia and accompanied a Taliban security officer to the meeting . . . Bin Laden, believed to be in his late 30s, coughed frequently and seemed to become easily exhausted, even while seated, said the man, who did not want his name used because of the potential danger. Bin Laden took milk, rather than the traditional tea, for refreshment, he said. "The sheik speaks for five or 10 minutes," he said, "and then he drinks some milk and gets up and walks around." The Afghan also spoke to a doctor who accompanied bin Laden to the valley and was told bin Laden's ailment is related to his circulation and his blood "is not being cleaned in the right way. I asked him, 'Why is the sheik very weak, very unhappy looking?' and he told me, 'He is very sick."' The Afghan doctor also told the man the problem was with bin Laden's "jigger," the Pashtu word for liver.

||| SAPRA, INDIA, March 7, 2001: While the whole world has reacted with horror and outrage against the action of the Taliban in destroying the statues of the Buddha and historical sites in Afghanistan associated with Buddhism, one man has been strangely muted in his reaction - Gen.. Pervez Musharraf, the self-styled Chief Executive of Pakistan, the creator and the creation of the jehadist organizations of Pakistan and the Taliban and the benefactor and the beneficiary of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist wanted for many international terrorist incidents, who was once nurtured by Gen. Musharraf and used in 1988 to ruthlessly suppress the Shias of Gilgit. Instead of taking the lead in condemning the barbaric acts of the Taliban, reminiscent of the Nazi destruction of everything associated with the Jewish religion in Germany and of the vandalism of the Khmer Rouge in Angkor Vat, the site of the historic Hindu temples in Cambodia, and other places associated with any religion, he has let his Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdul Sattar, and the Foreign Office spokesmen deal with the matter . . . Ever since he seized power on October 12, 1999, a consistent trait exhibited by the Mohajir General is his fear or reluctance to confront the Islamic fundamentalist and obscurantist elements. He had never criticized them on any ground; on the contrary, he had supported and justified their so-called jehad . . . Gen. Musharraf promised to Mr. Bill Clinton, the then US President, last year that he would himself personally go to Kandahar, the headquarters of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Taliban and the Pol Pot of Afghanistan, and persuade the Taliban to deport bin Laden and moderate its activities. He did not do so; instead, he sent his Interior Minister to Kandahar on an eyewash-visit without any outcome, which could have been unfavorable to the Taliban. If he had wanted, Gen. Musharraf could have got bin Laden nabbed and deported to the US because bin Laden, who suffers from a kidney ailment, reportedly comes to Peshawar periodically for dialysis at the local military hospital, but has chosen not to do so.

||| FRONTIER POST, PAKISTAN, September 17, 2000: The much-sought after Arab dissident, Osama bin Ladin, reportedly escaped a life-attempt a few weeks back when some unidentified assailants ambushed his convoy in southern Afghan province, Qandahar. Some travelers arriving from Qandahar confided to The Frontier Post that during the attack, the assailants fired rockets at the convoy which resulted in damage to one of the vehicles. They claimed that soon after the attack, Osama was shifted to his hideout by his supporters and guards. The attackers, whose origin could not be traced, reportedly fled after the incident. Previously, Osama had escaped a US attack on his base in Khost Province. During that attack in August 1998, the US Cruise missiles had hit various buildings. However, Osama remained unhurt.