Indications: Bin Laden wounded in Tora Bora
Captured al Qaeda fighters told investigators Osama bin Laden was wounded in Tora Bora late last year and ordered his lieutenants to disperse in various directions from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, disclosed anti-terror coalition intelligence sources.
However, the al Qaeda prisoners contradicted each other when interrogated about bin Laden's possible injuries and whereabouts, and there is no confirmation that he was wounded in the battle.
The FBI Web site describes bin Laden as left-handed. But a videotaped statement from him released in late December -- after the Tora Bora battle -- shows bin Laden gesturing with only his right hand. His left arm never moves and his left hand is never seen in the video.
According to international media reports, U.S. military officials said several al Qaeda detainees who have been questioned independently each told the same story -- that bin Laden was in the Tora Bora mountains in early December, talked with his al Qaeda fighters and then slipped out of the area with the help of local sympathizers.
But the Pentagon considers the stories suspect. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday he has not seen enough "solid evidence" that bin Laden escaped.
"We have seen repeated speculation about his possible location, but it has obviously not been verifiable," Rumsfeld said.
"Had it been verifiable, one would have thought that someone might have done something about it."
Rumsfeld said it was "entirely possible" that bin Laden was in Tora Bora when U.S. forces began their air assault there last December, but "in terms of any solid evidence, there wasn't any. There isn't now." In addition, he said, "We have had three or four or five different stories from the same detainees in any number of instances."
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