Bin Laden alive and healthy despite shrapnel wound, newspaper editor says
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Osama bin Laden was wounded in a U.S. bombing raid on Afghanistan in December but is in good health, the editor of a London-based Arabic newspaper said Monday.
Abd al-Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, said sources close to the al-Qaida leader “confirmed to me that the man is in good health.”
There was no way to verify Atwan’s information.
U.S. officials say they have no evidence bin Laden was wounded but say it is a possibility.
While the Bush administration has said publicly it does not know whether bin Laden is alive or dead, U.S. counterterrorism officials privately say they believe he is alive.
In Washington, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clark said she was aware of the report “but we don’t have anything to add to it.”
On Saturday, the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, was quoted in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper as saying bin Laden is alive and hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Atwan gave several interviews yesterday to promote the newspaper’s story, which is to appear in today’s editions.
Bin Laden was wounded during a U.S. bombing raid in December in Tora Bora, where al-Qaida members were thought to be hiding out, Atwan said.
“It happened during the American carpet-bombing of Tora Bora in Afghanistan,” Atwan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. He said bin Laden underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from his left shoulder.
Bin Laden has been videotaped at least twice since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Atwan said he had been told that al-Qaida supporters were planning new attacks and that bin Laden was planning to capitalize on a possible U.S. strike on Iraq.