Osama Bin Laden is Ill

There are now conflicting reports that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and leader of Al Qaida, is said to be ill and seeking medical attention:

Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is in poor health and is seeking medical attention, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat said on Wednesday, quoting a US officer in Afghanistan.

“Osama Bin Laden is trying to obtain medical attention,” Colonel Don McGraw, director of operations at the Combined Forces Command in Kabul, told a group of British reporters, including one from Al-Hayat, it said.

“He (McGraw) refused to say what the Qaeda leader is suffering from or whether it is the same kidney disease which Pakistani officials said in the past he was suffering from,” the newspaper added.

Al-Hayat said it was not clear how the US military had obtained its information or where it thought Bin Laden might be.

However, Reuters is denying the report.

Yesterday, it was reported that Afghani officials sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden helped him escape the Tora Bora Region:

Osama bin Laden was given safe passage to Pakistan in 2001 by Afghan commanders paid by Al Qaeda and sympathetic to the terrorist network’s cause, a senior Afghan official said Wednesday.

Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said commanders had helped the Al Qaeda leader escape from the Tora Bora mountains near the Pakistani border as U.S. warplanes and Afghan forces attacked his hide-out in late 2001.

“The help was provided because of monetary aid availed by Al Qaeda and also partly because of ideological issues,” Mashal said.

“Osama, along with other Al Qaeda people, managed to go to Parachinar at the time, and then Pakistani forces battled the Al Qaeda runaways, killing around 70 of them,” he said, referring to an area in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region.

He said commanders loyal to Maulvi Yunus Khalis had helped Bin Laden escape. The whereabouts of Khalis, a top mujahedin leader in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, are unknown.

An Afghani official also said yesterday that OBL is no longer in Afghanistan:

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is no longer in Afghanistan, the country’s top police official said on Thursday, citing the large number of US and NATO forces providing security and battling insurgents.

“He is not in Afghanistan,” Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali told reporters.

“It isn’t possible for him to be here because of all the international forces here. It is strongly suspected that he is in the tribal area,” Jalali said, referring to a region of Pakistan along the Afghan border.

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