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Osama is in Chitral: US experts

Published Sep 09, 2007 12:00am

WASHINGTON, Sept 8: Osama bin Laden is in Chitral, US experts have claimed while commenting on Al Qaeda leader’s latest video in which he has taunted America for losing the war against him. Several US television channels and newspapers quoted US counter-terrorism experts as saying that bin Laden is hiding in Chitral because it is remote and its rugged terrain makes it impossible for Pakistani forces to look for him there. There’s enough evidence “to persuade intelligence analysts that it’s his most likely location,” an expert told CBS.

Daniel Benjamin of the Brookings Institute says that the Al Qaeda chief also has sympathisers in that area. “They have a code of hospitality for guests, and they’ve probably also gotten a fair amount of money from bin Laden,” said Mr Benjamin who tried to track bin Laden down during the Clinton administration.

He believes bin Laden is surrounded by bodyguards armed with surface-to-air missiles and good intelligence.

“I think it’s quite likely he has a very good early warning system (and) that there are perimeters set up so people know who’s coming and going in the area that he’s living,” Mr Benjamin said.

Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst and author of three books on Al Qaeda and terrorism, disagrees with this theory. “I think they’re blowing a little bit of smoke. They have to say something now that he is back in the public eye,” he told CBS.

“If you look at the territory, it is impossible to find any single person up there, and we don’t have enough people to do it, and we respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. I guess they’re not going to go into Pakistan.”