U.S. intelligence agencies are beginning to suspect that Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden is dead after all, despite a recent audio tape exhorting Al Qaida terrorists in Iraq.
|Undated footage from the Internet shows Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden making statements from an unknown location. Reuters|
The Al Qaida leader who was the main force behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, was last heard on an audio tape released Dec. 30. The tape mentioned Iraqis who are opposing Al Qaida, but there has been no specific time referenced from his last two messages. An earlier message in October also exhorted Al Qaida to fight in Iraq.Questions about Bin Laden are being raised by intelligence officials who say that without a specific time mark with a photo of Bin Laden, his presence cannot be confirmed and the most recent statements could have been put together from older audio.
Al Qaida operates a very sophisticated propaganda operations that includes the use of audio and videotape messages to rally followers and to recruit new jihadists.
The new analysis of Bin Laden follows the death of No. 3 Al Qaida leader Abu Laith Al Libi, who was killed last week in a CIA-led operation in Pakistan that involved an armed unmanned aerial vehicle attack.
Asked about U.S. military or intelligence involving in the terrorist killing, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: “I’m not going to talk any more about the operational side of this, of how that in fact occurred.”
Mullen called al Libi a key figure in Al Qaida and said “elimination of someone like that is a very important outcome in terms of this long war.”
Mullen also said safe havens for Al Qaida in Pakistan remain a concern and to be able to conduct an operation in the area was “important.”