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Is Bin Laden Dead?

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Is Bin Laden Dead?

Saudi sources tell TIME that credible reports suggest the fugitive Qaeda leader has contracted a serious 'water-borne illness,' and may have already died





Posted Saturday, Sep. 23, 2006

Fugitive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, believed to be on the run in rugged terrain in the Afghan-Pakistani border region since the September 11 attacks five years ago, has become seriously ill and may have already died, a Saudi source tells TIME, echoing earlier reports in the French media.


The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that Saudi officials have received multiple credible reports over the last several weeks that Bin Laden has been suffering from a water-borne illness. The source believes that there is a "high probability" that Bin Laden has already died from the disease, but stressed that Saudi officials have thus far received no concrete evidence of Bin Laden's death.


"This is not a rumor," says the source. "He is very ill. He got a water-related sickness and it could be terminal. There are a lot of serious facts about things that have actually happened. There is a lot to it. But we don't have any concrete information to say that he is dead."


On Saturday, the French newspaper L'Est Republicain cited a report by the French intelligence service, Direction Generale des Services Exteriors (DGSE), saying that Saudi intelligence officials "seem to have become convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead." The report quoted by the newspaper said the Saudis believe bin Laden "might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006."


The DGSE report quoted by L'Est Republicain said that its information on the Saudi findings came from a "usually reliable source," indicating that it did not necessarily come directly from Saudi intelligence officials. The DGSE report cited by the newspaper said that Bin Laden's geographic isolation made it difficult for him to receive proper medical assistance for his ailment. The report said that Saudi intelligence picked up the first news of bin Laden's alleged demise on September 4. The DGSE says that Saudi authorities are waiting to get more details, "notably the exact place of his burial, before officially announcing the news," the newspaper said, citing what it called verbatim text from the report.


L'est Republicain, based in Metz in eastern France covering the Lorraine region, says the French secret services considered the DGSE report reliable enough to transmit it last Thursday to the highest levels of the French government, specifically to French President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. Alliot-Marie has reportedly demanded an investigation into the leak of the DGSE report to L'Est Republicain.



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