Tough call. Is he faking his dath? Is someone else faking it? Is this the chance for the U.S. to back off from the war on terror? Any way you look at it, it is an embarrassment for the United States. Five years later and the man sought by the most powerful country in the world (not for long) is either still at large or has died of natural causes….
COMPIEGNE, France (AFP) – France, Pakistan and the United States have said a report
Osama bin Laden has died of typhoid was unconfirmed, while Paris was probing how the intelligence brief it was based on came to be leaked.
French President Jacques Chirac stressed to journalists that “this information is in no way confirmed.”He added that he was “surprised” that the French newspaper l’Est Republicain had published an excerpt from a French secret service note relaying information from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service.
“I am a little surprised that a confidential DGSE (French foreign intelligence service) note should be published,” Chirac told a media conference, after a summit in this town north of Paris with Russian President
Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The note by the DGSE, dated September 21 and published Saturday by l’Est Republicain, stated that Saudi intelligence officials “are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead.”
It said that “information gathered by the Saudis” from a source they considered reliable indicates that bin Laden “might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006.
“His geographic isolation provoked by constant fleeing is believed to have made medical assistance impossible (and) on September 4, 2006, the Saudi security services received preliminary information of his death.”
It said the Saudis were “waiting to obtain further details and notably the exact place of burial before officially announcing the news.”
The DGSE refused to confirm the report, which L’Est Republicain said had been sent on Thursday to Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, and no immediate official reaction was forthcoming from Saudi officials.
In Washington, Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, also said “we don’t have any confirmation.”
And Pakistan’s interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, told AFP in Islamabad: “No, we do not have any such information with us.”
Security officials hunting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan rejected the report.
“There is an excellent cooperation between Pakistani and Saudi intelligence services and no such information has been shared,” a senior security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said it was “inconceivable that an event of this nature would remain unnoticed in Pakistan where we are constantly on the Al-Qaeda hunt.”
European officials tracking bin Laden’s whereabouts told AFP, also on condition of anonymity, that the report could not be seen as reliable.
Often rumoured to be dead in the past — only to appear later in audio or video recordings — the Al-Qaeda leader was believed to have taken refuge on the border region between Pakistan and
Previous reported rumours have said that he suffered from a kidney disorder and was in poor health.
The last verifiable message from bin Laden was posted on the Internet on July 1, accusing Iraqi Shiites of waging “genocide” against Sunnis. A US official said the message was deemed authentic.
Alliot-Marie ordered an investigation after the publication of the French intelligence brief “to determine the source of this leak, which is a crime punishable by law,” a statement from her ministry said.
Bin Laden has been held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington that killed around 3,000 people.
Al-Qaeda has been linked to several other attacks, including the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa, a 2000 suicide bomb attack on a US warship off Yemen, and the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
Born in Saudi Arabia to a wealthy family with close ties to the oil-rich state’s royal dynasty, bin Laden has been on the run since October 2001, when the United States led an invasion of Afghanistan and expelled the Taliban regime which had been harbouring him.