Bin Laden 'surrounded'
February 22, 2004
A BRITISH Sunday newspaper is claiming Osama bin Laden has been found and is surrounded by US special forces in an area of land bordering north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Sunday Express, known for its sometimes colourful scoops, claims the al-Qaeda leader has been "sighted" for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.
The paper claims he is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta. The region is said to be peopled with bin Laden supporters and the terrorist leader is estimated to also have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards with him.
The claim is attributed to "a well-placed intelligence source" in Washington, who is quoted as saying: "He (bin Laden) is boxed in."
The paper says the hostile terrain makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible. The plan to capture him would depend on a "grab-him-and-go" style operation.
"US helicopters already sited on the Afghanistan border will swoop in to extricate him," the newspaper says. It claims bin Laden and his men "sleep in caves or out in the open. The area is swept by fierce snow storms howling down from the 10,000ft-high mountain peaks. Donkeys are the only transport."
The special forces are "absolutely confident" there is no escape for bin Laden, and are awaiting the order to go in and get him.
"The timing of that order will ultimately depend on President Bush," the paper says. "Capturing bin Laden will certainly be a huge help for him as he gets ready for the election."
The article says bin Laden's movements are monitored by a National Security Agency satellite.
On Thursday last week, General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said America had been engaged in "intense" efforts to capture bin Laden, who was believed to be hiding in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But he insisted that the focus of the search had not narrowed for months.
The Sunday Telegraph