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Escaped { January 15 2002 }

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15 January 2002

Statement by CIA Spokesman Bill Harlow on ABC News Report

ABC News reported on the evening of January 14 that the CIA believes that Usama bin Laden has
"escaped from Afghanistan and has gone beyond Pakistan," most likely by sea. This is incorrect. We
have reached no such conclusion. ABC did not contact the Agency about this allegation before airing it.

CIA: Bin Laden
Analysis Suggests He Has Fled
the Region

By Brian Ross

Jan. 15

An intelligence analysis sent to
the CIA director last week
concluded Osama bin Laden has
escaped American efforts to find
him in Afghanistan and that he
most likely has fled the entire
region by sea, ABCNEWS has

In a major setback to the war on
terrorism, CIA analysts have concluded
bin Laden escaped from the Tora Bora
cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and
into Pakistan around the first week of
December, intelligence officials said.

The officials also told ABCNEWS that
one captured al Qaeda fighter claims to
have witnessed, in one of the Tora Bora
hiding places, bin Laden turning over
operational control to one of his

"I think that most intelligence analysts
are absolutely convinced at this point that
bin Laden has slipped the noose and
has left Afghanistan and Pakistan," said
Vince Cannistraro, an ABCNEWS analyst
and former CIA counterterrorism chief.

To fool U.S. forces in the area, the CIA believes,
bin Laden left behind a tape-recorded message
that was transmitted only after he was long

Search Has Spread Beyond Afghanistan

On Monday, the Pentagon acknowledged the
search for bin Laden and top al Qaeda leaders
has spread well beyond Afghanistan.

"It would not be unfair to say that every one of us
has this as a mission and that all the forces that
are currently in Afghanistan or in any other
country where we are pursuing the war on
terrorism are focused on doing just that," said
Adm. John Stufflebeem, deputy director of
operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Asked about bin Laden's whereabouts,
Secretary of State Colin Powell told ABCNEWS
he did not know where bin Laden was but said
U.S. forces were in "hot pursuit" of him. "I can't
say he is out of that immediate region. I have
seen nothing that suggests we know where he
is, whether it's in Afghanistan, Pakistan or
somewhere else," Powell said Monday.

U.S., German, British and French forces have
been searching dozens of ships in the Arabian
Sea for the last two months and last week's CIA
report concludes bin Laden most likely fled by
sea from Pakistan.

"That is not good news for the U.S.," Cannistraro
said. "Bin Laden and his top assistant [Ayman]
Al-Zawahiri can reconstitute now in places
where they have known bases, Southeast Asia
or the east coast of Africa."

American intelligence authorities say that while
al Qaeda has been disrupted, and a few leaders
have been captured and killed, bin Laden
himself remains one step ahead of the United
States, with the central nervous system of his
terror network still intact.

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