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Pentagon: No Credible Evidence on Bin Laden Fate - 2002-02-24


U-S Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers say they still do not know whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead.

Speaking Sunday on U-S television, both men said they do not have enough credible evidence to support a report that the terrorist mastermind is hiding in remote mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The New York Times newspaper says there are recent indications that Osama bin Laden survived U-S bombing assaults in Afghanistan and remains in hiding near the Pakistan border.

The newspaper bases its report on unnamed U-S officials. Those officials are quoted as saying new evidence on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts was gathered over the past month.

Mr. Rumsfeld says even if Osama bin Laden is still alive, he is spending his time and energy hiding and can no longer effectively direct the actions of his al-Qaida terrorist network.

General Myers says U-S-led forces continue to operate on the assumption that Osama bin Laden is alive -- and both officials say his capture could take a long time.

Afghanistan has abounded with rumors about Osama bin Laden's fate. Some reports suggest he died from the bombing or from a kidney ailment, others say he fled to any of several countries that include Pakistan, Somalia, Iran, Yemen and even India.

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