Osama's Health Still A Mystery

Hugh Jackman listens to the translation of a question in Spanish through headphones during a news conference for the movie "X-Men: The Last Stand," in Mexico City on Monday, May 15, 2006. An accomplished singer, Jackman won a Tony award for "The Boy From Oz" in 2004.
AP
Pakistan has no information on where Osama bin Laden is hiding or whether he is dead or alive, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

"We have no information about his coordinates. We have no information whether he is dead or alive," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said at a weekly news conference in the Pakistani capital.

Aslam's comments came amid recent speculation about bin Laden's status following a report in a French regional newspaper over the weekend.

French regional newspaper l'Est Republicain cited a leaked French secret service document as saying bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan last month, but on Sunday France's foreign minister denied any knowledge that the al Qaeda leader was dead.

"Don't believe everything you hear on the news," Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Turki al-Faisal told CBS News at the Saudi Day reception in Washington. "Osama Bin Laden is alive and well."

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports Saudi sources now say the rumor started with an unconfirmed rumor in a French intelligence briefing.

Bin Laden is widely believed to be hiding in the rugged region along the Pakistan and Afghan border.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that bin Laden "probably" was in Pakistan. Pakistani officials usually say bin Laden is more likely to be in Afghanistan.

A senior source with an intelligence service friendly to the United States told CBS News over the weekend that Saudi intelligence has collected what it considers to be "very credible information" that bin Laden has been very seriously ill, and that the Saudi services are now suggesting, though not confirming, that they "have a pretty high certainty" that he is dead.

Aslam said that leaders of the Taliban are present in Afghanistan and denied that Pakistan aided the radical Islamic militia.

"We believe that the Taliban leadership is inside Afghanistan, Taliban resurgence is in Afghanistan," she said.

A U.S. military campaign ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in late 2001 for harboring al Qaeda.

Afghan officials have repeatedly said that Taliban leaders are also hiding in Pakistan from where they stage attacks against Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Pakistan has denied the allegations, and sparring between the two countries over the location of the Taliban led to a straining in bilateral relations earlier this year.

"Much of the insurgency is located deep inside Afghanistan, far from the Pakistan border," Aslam said.

Taliban holdouts have launched an increasing number of attacks this year, particularly in the country's south, targeting Afghan and foreign troops. The fighters are increasingly targeting civilians and using tactics such as suicide and roadside bombs.

In a combative television interview this weekend, former president Bill Clinton defended his handling of the threat posed by Laden, saying he tried to have bin Laden killed and was attacked for his efforts by the same people who now criticize him for not doing enough.

"That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," Mr. Clinton said in the interview on "Fox News Sunday." "They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try."

"The former president seems to be able to deny facts with impunity. Bin laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton and Sandy Berger and (former White House anti-terrorism chief Richard) Clarke refused to kill him," CBS News terrorism analyst Michael Scheuer, formerly with the CIA, said on CBS News' The Early Show. "The Bush administration had one chance that they botched, and the Clinton administration had eight to ten chances that they refused to try."

"I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. I did everything I thought I could," Mr. Clinton said.