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Taliban detainee 'met Bin Laden this year'

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« on: December 04, 2009, 01:26:03 am »

Taliban detainee 'met Bin Laden this year'
By Orla Guerin
BBC News, Islamabad

Osama Bin Laden (file image)
Bin Laden is believed to be somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border

A Taliban detainee in Pakistan claims to have information about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts in January or February of this year.

His claims cannot be verified but a leading American expert says his account should be investigated.

The detainee claims to have met Osama Bin Laden numerous times before 9/11.

He says that earlier this year he met a trusted contact who had seen Bin Laden 15 to 20 days earlier across the border in Afghanistan.

"In 2009, in January or February I met this friend of mine. He said he had come from meeting Sheikh Osama, and he could arrange for me to meet him," he said.

According to the detainee, his contact is a Mehsud tribesman, responsible for getting al-Qaeda operatives based abroad to meetings with Bin Laden.

"He helps al-Qaeda people coming from other countries to get to the sheikh, so he can advise them on whatever they are planning for Europe or other places.

"The sheikh doesn't stay in any one place. That guy came from Ghazni, so I think that's where the sheikh was."
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 01:27:00 am »

No-go areas

The province of Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan has an increasingly strong Taliban presence. Large parts of the province are no-go areas for coalition and Afghan forces.

The detainee said that militants were avoiding Pakistani territory because of the risk of US drone attacks.

Map of Ghazni

"Pakistan at this time is not convenient for us to stay in because a lot of our senior people are being martyred in drone attacks," he said.

The detainee can't be named for legal reasons.

According to a Pakistani security official he has close ties with leaders of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and was involved in kidnapping and fundraising operations.

We were given access to him twice in the past month. A Pakistani interrogator was listening in as he spoke.

His account suits Pakistan, which maintains that Bin Laden is not on its soil although Britain and the US think otherwise.
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 01:27:39 am »

But a leading US expert, former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, says his story is plausible and should be investigated.

"The entire Western intelligence community, CIA and M16, have been looking for Osama Bin Laden for the last seven years and haven't come upon a source of information like this," he said.

"So if it's true - a big if - this is an extraordinary and important story.

"We know Osama Bin Laden is alive. We know that he is living somewhere in the badlands along the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"What is extraordinary about this story is we have someone who has come forward and said, really for the first time, 'I met with Osama Bin Laden and I had the opportunity to met him again in the recent past'."

The detainee's account raises many questions - among them, what were his motives for talking?

Bruce Riedel says his story is a very important lead which ought to be tracked down. But that won't be easy.

Western interrogators may have lots of questions they would like to ask, but so far the detainee has been out of their reach.
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