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Fri Sep 23 2005 14:01:11 ET

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ The Pakistani military officers battling al Qaeda along the border with Afghanistan who have the latest first-hand information about Osama bin Laden believe he is hiding with a small cadre in Afghanistan and is no longer an effective leader for the terrorist group.Ê Steve KroftÕs report from Pakistan will be broadcast on the 38th season premiere of 60 MINUTES Sunday, Sept. 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS television Network. Ê

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ ÒI think now [bin Laden] is being protected or assisted by a very short number, which keeps his profile very low,Ó the counter-terrorism head of PakistanÕs Intelligence Service, ISI, tells Kroft.ÊÊ [He is someplace along the border, probably in Afghanistan] is what my assessment says,Ó opines the brigadier who goes by the name ÒAliÓ and whose true identity is known by only a few government officials. Ê

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ Ali tells Kroft his forces have diminished bin LadenÕs power by capturing 594 al-Qaeda members and crippling the groupÕs communications, including infiltrating their courier network.Ê ÒWe have been able to effectively break the communications network from top to bottom. We do not allow these people to communicate with each other,Ó says Ali.Ê Ê

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ The information gleaned from the captives and given to coalition officials has helped to prevent planned terror attacks against financial buildings in the U.S., planes and buildings at LondonÕs Heathrow airport and has assisted in the capture of al-Qaeda operatives in Great Britain.Ê ÒThe mere fact that there has not been a replication of 9/11 speaks volumes of what we shared with the world,Ó boasts Ali. Ê

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ Finding bin Laden doesnÕt matter at this point, believes Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, in charge of PakistanÕs anti-terrorism operations along the Afghanistan border.Ê ÒIf [bin Laden] is hiding in a hole, neither the electronic nor the human intelligence can find him,Ó he tells Kroft.Ê ÒIs it all that important to find him? If heÕs taken out tomorrow, his ideology is not going to come to an end.Ê I donÕt think that itÕs importantÉif he is capturedÉ.This is my personal view,Ó says Hussain. Ê

ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ Kroft also spoke to the Pakistani leader, ÊGen. Pervez Musharraf.Ê ÒThese troops are not certainly on the trail of one man and thatÕs all they are doing,Ó notes Musharraf.Ê ÒWe are fighting terrorism wherever it is. If Osama happens to be there incidentally, he will be killed or captured,Ó he tells Kroft.


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