Saudis: no evidence of Osama’s death

From Pakistan’s Dawn, Sept. 24:

RIYADH, Sept 24: The Saudi government has distanced itself from reports about Osama bin Laden’s death on or about August 23 somewhere in Pakistan. The news was carried by the French newspaper L’Est Republicain citing Saudi intelligence sources.

According to a Saudi statement, the information is speculative and cannot be independently verified.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. Information that has been reported is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified,” the statement added.

The French newspaper had claimed in its Saturday issue that Bin Laden died of typhoid.

The paper quoted a French secret service report as saying that Saudi Arabia was convinced that Bin Laden died last month.

Reuters adds: France, the United States and Britain have said they are unable to confirm the report.

Time magazine posted an article on its website citing an unidentified Saudi source, who claimed Bin Laden was stricken with a water-borne disease and might already be dead.

French President Jacques Chirac told reporters that Bin Laden’s death “has not been confirmed in any way whatsoever and so I have no comment to make” and that he was surprised a confidential note had been published.

France has launched a probe into the leak.

“No comment, no knowledge,” said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when asked about the French article by reporters in New York.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asked in a BBC interview if he could shed light on the report, said: “No, I can’t. I haven’t heard anything that indicates that might be the case.”

A US intelligence source said Washington had no evidence the report was any more credible than earlier rumours of his death.

Note that according to the new National Intelligence Estimate, Osama isn’t even all that important anymore anyway. The CIA has long since stopped looking for him. Last year’s rumors had him hiding out in Kafiristan.

See our last post on al-Qaeda.