Additional Indications Bin Laden Dead Reported
According to officials, the U.S. intelligence community has noticed in recent weeks a lack of communication by associates to Osama bin Laden, causing several analysts to assess he may be carrying out a trick to convince Washington he is dead, the Washington Times reported.
"We don't see any of his Indians doing anything on his behalf," a senior U.S. official pointed out.
Following the fall of Tora Bora to anti-Taliban forces in December, Washington concluded that Osama was still alive based, partially, on tracking individuals known to help the terrorist leader. However, intelligence officials said that those activities had recently came to a halt.
American officials stated that a few intelligence analysts believe the “dry spell” could in fact indicate that bin Laden is dead. He appeared stressed and pale in his last video, dated early December.
There is slight hope among some Bush administration officials that bin Laden was killed during the massive bombing of his terror camp near the city of Khost. However, no evidence has come along to support that assumption, officials said.
The senior officials said the mainstream U.S. intelligence assessment is that bin Laden has gone deep under the heavy 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."
This official said there has been a significant decrease in communication by senior al Qaeda members who could be conduits between bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who is also still free.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld last week claimed that senior al Qaeda leaders might have changed their communication means in order to evade U.S. detection. "To the extent they develop knowledge about how we try to find them, they develop alternative methods they can use to communicate with each other or to connect with people they need to connect with, and they use deception and denial techniques," Rumsfeld explained. "These are not stupid people. These are not people who are unaware of high-technology activities. Therefore, they get more sophisticated and more sophisticated, and it makes it that much more difficult."
Besides high-tech spy assets, the Pentagon is relying on intense ground detective work. Rumsfeld admitted, "We've got people all across the country, local Afghan people working where we have embedded in them our people, our Special Forces working with them, and we're actively out trying to find rumors and tips and leads and suggestions as to where these folks are."
The United States believes bin Laden was holed up in Tora Bora just before his al Qaeda army evacuated the area. Amidst speculation that U.S. bombing buried bin Laden in a cave hiding spot, officials said he survived the attacks and was probably moving among tribes in eastern Afghanistan or just across the border in Pakistan.
Speculation that bin Laden may have died surfaced again last week when Pakistani President General Musharraf stated that bin Laden likely died of kidney failure. "I give the highest priority now, to be frank, that he is dead for the reason that he is a patient, he is a kidney patient," he said. However, a U.S. official said there is no evidence bin Laden has kidney disease. The official added, "There is no evidence he is not alive. If he were dead, we think we would hear about it from a lot of his supporters." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)