Last Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2006, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK

from BBC Website

Bin Laden is blamed for attacks across the world

President Jacques Chirac has ordered an inquiry into the leak of a French secret service memo claiming that Osama Bin Laden had died. Mr Chirac told reporters he was surprised the memo had been leaked, and refused to comment on the claim itself.

A French newspaper quoted a document as saying the Saudi secret services were convinced the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August. Officials in Pakistan and the US said they could not confirm the account.

Saudi-born Bin Laden was based in Afghanistan until the Taleban government there was overthrown by US-backed forces in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. Since then, US and Pakistani officials have regularly said they believe he is hiding in the lawless border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

His last videotaped message was released in late 2004, but several audio tapes have been released this year - the last at the end of June, in which Bin Laden praised Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed in an American air strike.

Internal organs paralyzed
In its report, French regional daily L'Est Republicain said it had obtained a copy of a DGSE foreign intelligence service report dated 21 September.

"According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama Bin Laden is dead," it read.

"The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al-Qaeda fell victim, while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, to a very serious case of typhoid that led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs."

Mr. Chirac said:

"I am surprised that a confidential memo from the secret services has been published, therefore I've ordered the defence minister to start an inquiry.

"As far as the information itself is concerned, it's not confirmed in any way. Therefore I have no comment at all."

The Washington-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said it was not aware of any similar reports on the internet.

"We've seen nothing from any al-Qaeda messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama Bin Laden," director Ben Venzke told the Associated Press news agency.



Is Bin Laden Dead?
Attending Saudi national day ceremonies in Washington,

the CIA director weighs in on the hot question of the weekend

by Timothy Burger/Washington and Scott MacLeod/Cairo
with reporting by Tala Skari/Paris
Posted Saturday, Sep. 23, 2006

from Time Website

General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, walked into the celebration of Saudi Arabia's national day in Washington D.C. and was immediately posed with the question of the day.


"Is it true?" Hayden was asked by a Time reporter. "Nope," Hayden said, immediately adding to the accumulating statements on the paucity of evidence that Osama bin Laden was dead. About an hour before, the Saudi government itself declared that it,

"has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified."

Pakistani intelligence sources, who monitor the mountainous regions where Bin Laden is believed to be hiding out, had also dismissed the reports of the terror leader's death. A well placed source in Washington said the idea of Bin Laden's demise appears to have originated as a,

"hypothesis of some Saudi intelligence analysts with no hard evidence to back it up. No one at a high level is satisfied it's true."

At his country's national day celebration in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal said,

"My understanding is that [Bin Laden] is alive and well and kicking. But I may be wrong."

Earlier on Saturday, the French newspaper L'Est Republicain cited a report by the French intelligence service, Direction Generale des Services Exteriors (DGSE), saying that Saudi intelligence officials "seem to have become convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead." The report quoted by the newspaper said the Saudis believe bin Laden,

"might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006."

Echoing that report, a Saudi source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TIME that Saudi officials have received multiple reports over the last several weeks that Bin Laden has been suffering from a water-borne illness.

"This is not a rumor," said the source.


"He is very ill. He got a water-related sickness and it could be terminal... But we don't have any concrete information to say that he is dead."

The French government has reportedly begun an investigation into the leak of the DGSE report to L'Est Republicain.



Officials Say

No Evidence bin Laden Has Died
French newspaper published details of alleged intelligence memo
Updated: 9:15 a.m. ET Sept 24, 2006
MSNBC News Services

from MSNBC Website

PARIS - President Jacques Chirac and Saudi officials said Saturday that information contained in a leaked intelligence document raising the possibility that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan last month is “in no way whatsoever confirmed.”

Chirac said he was “a bit surprised” at the leak and has asked Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to probe how a document from a French foreign intelligence service was published in the French press.

The regional newspaper l’Est Republicain on Saturday printed what it described as a copy of a confidential document from the DGSE intelligence service citing an uncorroborated report from Saudi secret services that the leader of the al-Qaida terror network had died.

The DGSE transmitted the document, dated Sept. 21 or Thursday, to Chirac and other top French officials, the newspaper said.

“This information is in no way whatsoever confirmed,” Chirac said Saturday when asked about the document. “I have no comment.”

The Saudi Embassy in Washington issued a statement saying:

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified.”

In Washington, CIA duty officer Paul Gimigliano said he could not confirm the DGSE report.

The Washington-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said it was not aware of any similar reports on the Internet.

“We’ve seen nothing from any al-Qaida messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama bin Laden,” IntelCenter director Ben N. Venzke told The Associated Press.

Last date known is June 29
Al-Qaida would likely release information of his death fairly quickly if it were true, said Venzke, whose organization also provides counterterrorism intelligence services for the American government.

“They would want to release that to sort of control the way that it unfolds. If they wait too long, they could lose the initiative on it,” he said.

The last time the IntelCenter says it could be sure bin Laden was alive was June 29, when al-Qaida released an audiotape in which the terror leader eulogized the death of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq earlier that month.

Chirac spoke at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Compiegne, France, where the leaders were holding a summit.

Putin suggested that leaks can be ways to manipulate. “When there are leaks ... one can say that (they) were done especially.”

Earlier the French defense ministry said it was opening an investigation into the leak.

“The information diffused this morning by the l’Est Republicain newspaper concerning the possible death of Osama bin Laden cannot be confirmed,” a Defense Ministry statement said.

How ‘reliable’ a source?
The DGSE, or Direction Generale des Services Exterieurs, indicated that its information came from a single source.

“According to a reliable source, Saudi security services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead,” said the intelligence report.

There have been periodic reports of bin Laden’s illness or death in recent years but none has been proven accurate.

According to this report, Saudi security services were pursuing further details, notably the place of his burial.

“The chief of al-Qaida was a victim of a severe typhoid crisis while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006,” the document says. His geographic isolation meant that medical assistance was impossible, the French report said, adding that his lower limbs were allegedly paralyzed.

The report further said Saudi security services had their first information on bin Laden’s alleged death on Sept. 4.

In Pakistan, a senior official of that country’s top spy agency, the ISI or Directorate of Inter-Service Intelligence, said he had no information to confirm bin Laden’s whereabouts or that he might be dead. The official said he believed the report could be fabricated. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Embassy officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan also said they could not confirm the French report.

Gen. Henri Bentegeat, the French army chief of staff, said in a radio debate last Sunday that bin Laden’s fate remained a mystery.

“Today, bin Laden is certainly not in Afghanistan,” Bentegeat said. “No one is completely certain that he is even alive.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Report claims bin Laden is dead
Sept. 23: French and U.S. officials were caught off guard Saturday by a leaked report

claiming that Osama bin Laden was seriously ill and may have already died.

NBC’s Lisa Daniels reports.
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