Probe into ‘Bin Laden death’ leak


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Probe into 'Bin Laden death' leak

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 paralysed

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.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/09/23 15:49:32 GMT


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