France Looks Into Report Alleging Bin Laden’s Death

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France has launched an inquiry into regional newspaper l’Est Republicain’s allegations contained in leaked intelligence report suggesting thatAl Qaeda leaderOsama bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan last month.

French President Jacques Chirac described the information included in the leaked report as “in no way confirmed.”

Speaking at a media conference, Mr. Chirac said that he was “surprised” that the French newspaper l’Est Republicain had published parts from a French secret service report relaying information acquired from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service.

“I am a little surprised that a confidential DGSE (French foreign intelligence service) note should be published,” Chirac said, after a summit north of Paris with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie will lead the probe.

According to l’Est Republicain report, the intelligence report, dated Sept. 21, was transferred from the DGSE to Chirac and other top French officials.

Asked Saturday about the report, the French President said:

“This information is in no way whatsoever confirmed,”

“I have no comment.”

l’Est Republicain further stated that Saudi intelligence officials “are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead,” and that the Saudis were “waiting to obtain further details and notably the exact place of burial before officially announcing the news.”

“Information gathered by the Saudis” from a “reliable” source, the paper said, suggested that bin Laden “might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006.

“His geographic isolation provoked by constant fleeing is believed to have made medical assistance impossible (and) on September 4, 2006, the Saudi security services received preliminary information of his death.”

The Washington-based IntelCenter, responsible for monitoring terrorism communications, said it was not aware of such report.

“We’ve seen nothing from any Al Qaeda messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama bin Laden,The Associated Press quoted IntelCenter director Ben N. Venzke, as saying.

“They would want to release that to sort of control the way that it unfolds. If they wait too long, they could lose the initiative on it,” he said.

A senior official of Pakistan’s top spy agency, the ISI or Directorate of Inter-Service Intelligence, said he had no information to confirm bin Laden s death report.

Also U.S. Embassy officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan could not confirm the report.

Speaking at a radio debate last Sunday, the French army chief of staff, Gen. Henri Bentegeat, said that the fate of Al Qaeda chief, accused by the Bush administration of being responsible for September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington that killed around 3,000 people, is still mystery.

“Today, bin Laden is certainly not in Afghanistan,” Bentegeat said. “No one is completely certain that he is even alive.”

France Looks Into Report Alleging Bin Laden’s Death

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