Cia thinks bl runs al qaeda
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Oct. 21, 2003. 01:00 AM
Bin Laden still runs Al Qaeda, CIA thinks
WASHINGTON—Osama bin Laden, by referring to recent events in his latest taped message, showed he was alive in the not-too-distant past, U.S. officials said yesterday. It was the strongest evidence in months that bin Laden retains command of the Al Qaeda network.
Officials with the Central Intelligence Agency said they believed the audio recording, aired Saturday on Arabic Al-Jazeera television, was probably authentic, based on technical analysis.
Bin Laden made several references in the message that suggested it was recorded in the past few months. For example, he spoke of the government of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who served from April until Sept. 6. Although the language suggested the message was recorded before Abbas' resignation, CIA officials couldn't be sure.
In addition, bin Laden taunted the Bush administration for the United States' federal red ink. The $450 billion estimatehe cited received prominent media attention starting in July. Bin Laden also appeared to refer to the administration's recent efforts to persuade other countries to send troops to assist in occupying and rebuilding Iraq.
Since late 2001, U.S. intelligence officials have said they believed bin Laden was in the region along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, the most recent audio message from bin Laden had aired Sept. 10. That message included video of bin Laden on a mountain hike, but it was unclear when either the video or accompanying audio voiceover had been recorded.