Wire: Pakistani Leader Says Bin Laden 'May be Dead' or Maybe Not
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, April 27, 2009 -- Newswires reported late today that Pakistan's president said his intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden may be dead, but he added there is no proof. Other Pakistani officials and a U.S. counterterrorism official said they thought the al-Qaida chief is alive.
U.S. officials told the Associated Press that bin Laden is most likely hiding in the mountains along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, in particular the lawless tribal regions.
AP also reported the following details:
"We continue to believe that bin Laden is alive," said the U.S. official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record.(Report from commercial news sources.)
Reports of bin Laden's death or of near-captures have punctuated his years on the run since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, only to be seemingly debunked by periodic audio and video recordings.
The latest recording emerged in March, in which bin Laden referred to the December-January Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, calling it a "holocaust," and spoke of the January election of Somalia's U.N.-backed president, calling for him to be overthrown.
In an interview Monday with international media outlets, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said American officials had told him they do not know where bin Laden is.
"They are much more informed," Zardari said. "They've been actually after him for a longer time. They've got more equipment. They've got more intelligence. ... so they tell us they have no trace at the moment."
Zardari added that his country's intelligence agencies "obviously feel that he does not exist anymore," but he didn't explain how or when they reached that conclusion, and quickly qualified his comment by saying bin Laden "may be dead."
"That's not confirmed. We can't confirm that," he said. "It's still in between fiction and fact."
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