Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda terrorist leader, hunted in Pakistan by CIA

Oct 18, 2010 - 08:48
Oct 18, 2010 - 08:48
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Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda terrorist leader, hunted in Pakistan by CIA

WASHINGTON - The CIA hunted for Osama Bin Laden in a remote section of northwestern Pakistan in recent years based on at least two sightings considered credible, the Daily News has learned.

One of the sightings was a grainy photo of Bin Laden inside a truck traveling in the North-West Frontier Province's Chitral district, a former senior counterterror official revealed.

The source, who had access to all reporting on Bin Laden, responded to a series of March 2009 reports in The News that pinpointed where the CIA's tribal operations unit had hunted for Al Qaeda's founder.

The intelligence was obtained years ago and wasn't fresh enough to find and kill Bin Laden, who was first marked for death in 1995, the source added.

Asked by ABC last December about the last hard intelligence on Bin Laden's location since he escaped Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains in December 2001, Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted, "I think it's been years."

CNN reported Monday that a senior NATO commander overseeing day-to-day operations in Afghanistan said Bin Laden has likely hidden in Chitral and in the Kurram area of Pakistan.

Chitral has been an impenetrable sanctuary for brigands for centuries because of snow in chains of mountains that soar to 25,000 feet, which cut off the area to outsiders half the year.

Bin Laden also is believed to have returned to Afghanistan's Khowst province since 2002 under the protection of his old mujahadeen friend Jalaluddin Haqqani, who leads part of the insurgency against U.S. forces, American and Afghan sources have said.

The NATO official also told CNN that Bin Laden likely lives in a house, not a cave - which The News first reported in 2007.

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