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Sunday, September 24, 2006

French paper says Laden dead

Osama bin ladenOn september 23rd a French regional newspaper today quoted a French secret service report as saying that Saudi Arabia is convinced that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan last month.
L'Est Republicain printed what it said was a copy of the report dated September. 21 and said it was shown to President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and France's interior and defence ministers on the same day.

''According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead,'' the document said.
''The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al Qaeda was a victim while he was in Pakistan on Aug.

23, 2006, of a very serious case of typhoid which led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs.'' The report, which was stamped with a ''confidential defence'' label and the initials of the French secret service, said Saudi Arabia first heard the information on September. 4 and that it was waiting for more details before making an official announcement.
A senior official in Pakistan's interior ministry said: ''We have no information about Osama's death.'' Saudi-born Bin Laden was based in Afghanistan until the Taliban government there was overthrown by US-backed forces in late 2001. Since then, US and Pakistani officials have regularly said they believe he is hiding somewhere on the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, on 24th September; Saudi Arabia said today it had no evidence that Osama bin Laden had died, shedding further doubt on a secret document leaked in France that said Saudi secret services believed he had died last month.
France and the United States said yesterday they could not confirm the report in French regional daily L'Est Republicain which quoted France's DGSE foreign intelligence service as saying the Saudi secret services were convinced the al Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August.

Time magazine separately posted an article on its Web site citing an unidentified Saudi source, who claimed bin Laden was stricken with a water-borne disease and may already be dead.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington, however, 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.'' French President Jacques Chirac told reporters bin Laden's death ''has not been confirmed in any way whatsoever and so I have no comment to make'' and that he was surprised a confidential note had been published.

France has launched a probe into how the document was leaked.


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