‘Osama alive, network dead’

Associated Press

Islamabad, May 20:

Osama bin Laden is alive and on the run with a small band of fighters but his al-Qaeda network has been paralyzed by Pakistani government forces, the country’s foreign minister was quoted as saying today. Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri declined to say whether Pakistan had specific information on the whereabouts of the world’s most wanted fugitive, accused by the US of orchestrating the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. “Osama bin Laden is alive and moving around from place to place, but not with a large group of people,” Kasuri was quoted as saying in the English-language newspaper The News.

Kasuri said that Pakistan’s army had “paralyzed al-Qaeda’s communication network,” and vastly reduced its capability to strike, according to the English-language newspaper The News. Pakistan’s intelligence service captured Abu Farraj al-Libbi, reputed to be al-Qaeda’s number 3 leader, on May 2. Al-Libbi — who remains in Pakistan’s custody — was wanted for

allegedly masterminding two December 2003 assassination attempts against President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who escaped unharmed. Seventeen other people were killed, however.

Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has handed over more than 700 al-Qaida suspects to US officials, including al-Qaeda’s then-number 3 Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was arrested in March 2003 during a raid near Islamabad. Two other alleged al-Qaeda leaders, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were also arrested in Pakistan.