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In good health

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Wednesday July 10, 07:55 AM

Al-Qaeda member says bin Laden, Omar alive and well: report

The satellite television network Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) broadcast an audiotape from what it says is a top al-Qaeda official reaffirming that Osama bin Laden and deposed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar are "in good health."

"I want to reassure those impassioned with the jihad that ... Sheikh Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and the symbols of jihad, including Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sheikh Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, are in good health," said Abu Laith Allibi in the broadcast, which MBC said was made several weeks ago.

Ayman al-Zawahiri is considered the number two in the al-Qaeda network, whose spokesman is Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.

"I want also to reassure the Mujahedin about the fact that Mullah Omar has been able to assemble the Mujahedin who have been scattered and who are in the process of regrouping," the broadcast said.

Abu Laith Allibi also gives details of a battle several weeks ago in Afghanistan between US troops and al-Qaeda fighters.

The entire recording is also carried by Islamist Internet sites, MBC said.

Abu Laith Allibi is a Libyan Islamist who joined the Afghan Mujahedin, or holy warriors, in the 1980s to fight the Soviet occupation. He is known for his expertise in bomb making and in guerrilla warfare.

On the situation en Afghanistan, Abu Laith Allibi said members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda have launched "a new phase in the war against the Americans, founded on a guerrilla war and a war of assassinations.

"Thank God, we have been able to destroy the bases, the munitions depots," he said, adding that he had also "seen with my own eyes between 150 and 200 American soldiers killed" in the battle which took place several weeks ago in the Shah Kut region in Afghanistan.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said in Kabul last week he believed bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks on the US, and Mullah Omar are alive, but their whereabouts are a mystery,

Omar, the elusive one-eyed leader of the vanquished Taliban zealots, is rumoured to be hiding in the mountainous regions of central Uruzgan province.

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