Bin Laden, deputy, living in luxury in northwest Pak protected by ISI: NATO official

Monday, October 18, 2010

KABUL - The world’s most wanted terrorist and Al-Qaeda’s top leadership, Osama bin Laden, and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official has said.

“Nobody in al Qaeda is living in a cave,” the CNN quoted the official, as saying, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the intelligence matters involved.

Rather, they are believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services, the official added.

The official said that the general region where Laden is likely to have moved around in recent years ranges from the mountainous Chitral area in the far northwest near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which neighbours Afghanistan’s Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the US invasion in 2001.

He also confirmed the US assessment that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, had moved between the cities of Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan over the last several months.

However, he would not discuss how the coalition had come to know any of this information, but he had access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance, the channel said.

Meanwhile, responding to the report, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that similar reports of Laden and Omar’s whereabouts had proven false in the past.

Malik denied that the two men were on Pakistani soil, but added that any information about the contrary should be shared with the country’s officials so that they can take “immediate action” to arrest the duo.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied protecting members of the al Qaeda leadership. (ANI)

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