Bin Laden alive in Pakistan?
Economic Times | July 23, 2007
WASHINGTON: Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden is alive and sheltering in lawless parts of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan, US intelligence chief Mike McConnell said on Monday.
McConnell blamed President Pervez Musharraf's government for allowing Al-Qaeda to regroup via a peace pact last year with tribal leaders in the border areas. But Musharraf remains a key ally, he said.
The administration's latest remarks, following the White House's refusal to rule out military attacks on militants inside Pakistan, sparked a curt response from Islamabad.
"Our stance is that Osama bin Laden is not present in Pakistan," Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told the media in the Pakistani capital. "If anyone has the information he should give it to us, so that we can apprehend him."
Asked about bin Laden, the US director of national intelligence told NBC television: "My personal view is that he's alive. I believe he is in the tribal region of Pakistan."
A new report by the US intelligence community last week said that Al-Qaeda had regrouped in its Pakistani "safe haven" and was determined to inflict mass casualties through new attacks on the United States.
McConnell said that had been possible owing to a September peace accord between the Pakistani government and pro-Taliban tribal leaders in the ill-governed region bordering Afghanistan.
A week ago, the tribal militants tore up the pact, stoking tensions as deadly violence erupted across Pakistan following the military's crushing of a pro-Taliban uprising at the Red Mosque in Islamabad.
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