Oct 20, 2010
The image on Sunday, Oct 7, 2001 shows Osama bin Laden at an undisclosed location.
Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living comfortably in a house in the north-west of Pakistan protected by local people and elements of the country’s intelligence services, according to a senior NATO official.
The latest analysis contradicts the belief that the al-Qaeda leader is roughing it in underground bunkers as he dodged CIA drones hunting him from the air.
"No one in al-Qaeda is living in a cave," according to an unnamed NATO official quoted by CNN.
He added that Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s second in command, and was also living in a house close by somewhere in the country’s mountainous border regions.
Pakistani officials on Monday repeated their long standing denials that the Saudi-born terrorist mastermind was being given safe haven.
However, the NATO official said bin Laden was thought to have ranged from the mountainous Chitral area near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which borders Afghanistan’s Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the US invasion in 2001.
North Waziristan, in particular, has become a nexus for Afghan, Pakistani and Arab militants as they plot attacks against NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month a leaked White House report accused its ally Pakistan of playing a double game by avoiding "military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan".
A senior Pakistani security official denied that bin Laden was being protected and said the latest allegations were designed to heap pressure on Islamabad ahead of talks in Washington this week that would focus on strengthening co-operation between the two countries.
"Each and every time something important is happening then things like this keep creeping out," he explained. "If it’s not bin Laden it’s something else."