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CIA chief has 'excellent idea' where bin Laden is

CNN | June 20, 2005

CIA Director Porter Goss says he has an "excellent idea" where Osama bin Laden is hiding, but that the al Qaeda chief will not be caught until weak links in the war on terrorism are strengthened.

In an interview with TIME magazine published Sunday, Goss said part of the difficulty in capturing bin Laden was "sanctuaries in sovereign nations."

The magazine asked Goss when bin Laden would be captured.

"That is a question that goes far deeper than you know," he said.

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"In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice.

"We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.

"We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.

Asked whether that meant he knew where bin Laden is, Goss responded: "I have an excellent idea where he is. What's the next question?"

Goss did not say where he thinks bin Laden is, nor did he name the country or countries he was referring to when he spoke of sanctuaries.

But intelligence experts have long said they believed bin Laden was probably hiding in the rugged mountainous border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asked if al Qaeda could strike the United States again, Goss said: "Yes, it could. Certainly the intent is very high. And we are trying to stay ahead of their capability. And so far, I think we have done pretty well carrying the war to them, as it were. I think that's mattered."

On Friday, the Arabic language television network Al-Jazeera aired portions of a video by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 man in al Qaeda -- his first message in four months.

In the message, bin Laden's top lieutenant urged Muslims to press on with their jihad against U.S. and Western interests in the "land of Islam," saying that Islamic nations must be allowed to run their own affairs without foreign interference. (Full story)

On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said he did not believe bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar were in the central Asian country. (Full story)

Zalmay Khalilzad's remarks came a day after a purported Taliban military commander told a Pakistani TV station that the two men were "alive and well." (Full story)

Goss also told the magazine the insurgency in Iraq was not quite in its last throes, but close to it.

In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" that aired last week, Cheney said he expected the war would end during Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline," Cheney said. "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." (Full story)

Asked if that was his read of the situation, Goss said: "I think they're not quite in the last throes, but I think they are very close to it. And I think that every day that goes by in Iraq where they have their own government and it's moving forward reinforces just how radical (the insurgents) are and how unwanted they are."

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. John McCain said he disagreed with Cheney's assessment that the insurgency was in its "last throes" and called on the Bush administration to stop telling Americans victory is around the corner.

"What I think we should do," the Arizona Republican told NBC's "Meet the Press," "is wait until we achieve the successes, then celebrate them, rather than predict them. Because too often that prediction is not proven to be true." (Full story)


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