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TOP PAKISTANI ANTI-TERROR OFFICIALS BELIEVE BIN LADEN HOLED UP IN AFGHANISTAN WITH LESS THAN 10 MEN, NO LONGER EFFECTIVE
Fri Sep 23 2005 14:01:11 ET
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ 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.ï¿½ Steve Kroftï¿½s 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. ï¿½
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ ï¿½I think now [bin Laden] is being protected or assisted by a very short number, which keeps his profile very low,ï¿½ the counter-terrorism head of Pakistanï¿½s Intelligence Service, ISI, tells Kroft.ï¿½ï¿½ [He is someplace along the border, probably in Afghanistan] is what my assessment says,ï¿½ opines the brigadier who goes by the name ï¿½Aliï¿½ and whose true identity is known by only a few government officials. ï¿½
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Ali tells Kroft his forces have diminished bin Ladenï¿½s power by capturing 594 al-Qaeda members and crippling the groupï¿½s communications, including infiltrating their courier network.ï¿½ ï¿½We have been able to effectively break the communications network from top to bottom. We do not allow these people to communicate with each other,ï¿½ says Ali.ï¿½ ï¿½
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ 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 Londonï¿½s Heathrow airport and has assisted in the capture of al-Qaeda operatives in Great Britain.ï¿½ ï¿½The mere fact that there has not been a replication of 9/11 speaks volumes of what we shared with the world,ï¿½ boasts Ali. ï¿½
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Finding bin Laden doesnï¿½t matter at this point, believes Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, in charge of Pakistanï¿½s anti-terrorism operations along the Afghanistan border.ï¿½ ï¿½If [bin Laden] is hiding in a hole, neither the electronic nor the human intelligence can find him,ï¿½ he tells Kroft.ï¿½ ï¿½Is it all that important to find him? If heï¿½s taken out tomorrow, his ideology is not going to come to an end.ï¿½ I donï¿½t think that itï¿½s importantï¿½if he is capturedï¿½.This is my personal view,ï¿½ says Hussain. ï¿½
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Kroft also spoke to the Pakistani leader, ï¿½Gen. Pervez Musharraf.ï¿½ ï¿½These troops are not certainly on the trail of one man and thatï¿½s all they are doing,ï¿½ notes Musharraf.ï¿½ ï¿½We are fighting terrorism wherever it is. If Osama happens to be there incidentally, he will be killed or captured,ï¿½ he tells Kroft.
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