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Report: Bin Laden Makes A Move

Osama bin Laden, who evaded a U.S. missile attack two years ago, moved his Afghan headquarters to a heavily defended mountain hideout last week, the opposition to the ruling Afghan Taliban said.

An Internet report by the administration of Burhanuddin Rabbani said the Saudi dissident, whom Washington accuses of blowing up two of its embassies, had moved on the night of Nov. 7 to a remote location because of the threat of fresh U.S. attacks.

"According to reliable sources, Osama and his hundreds of Taliban and Arab bodyguards left the Kandahar city hideout for a another hideout in the northern mountains of Uruzgan province," said the Khabarnama weekly news bulletin.

"This was selected because of its location far from populated areas and for its strategic position, which cannot be seen by American satellites," the bulletin said.

The publication, dated Nov. 11, was posted by the anti-Taliban alliance which is now confined to the far northeast of the country. The Taliban, which means "the students of Islam," rule 95 percent of Afghanistan and are battling the opposition on several fronts in an attempt to capture the rest.

The United States has termed bin Laden a suspect in the October suicide attack on a U.S. destroyer in Aden that killed 17 American sailors, prompting speculation of a repetition of the 1998 missile attack on Afghan bases linked to him. He was unharmed in that attack.

The Taliban have denied that bin Laden was involved in the attack, saying his communication links with the outside world have been severed and he is not allowed to use Afghan territory to launch attacks against any country.

Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam met for two hours with Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban militia's ambassador to the country, to discuss bin Laden amid growing fears in the Afghan capital that Washington may strike Afghanistan if it finds evidence that bin Laden is behind the Cole attack.

The report said the nighttime move from Kandahar, base of Omar, involved more than 100 vehicles and was accompanied by numerous Taliban officials, including foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil.

At his new site, the report said bin Laden has 2,700 armed men to protect him, as well as anti-aircraft guns and Stinger missiles, left over from the anti-Soviet war of the 1980s.

The United States and Russia have led opposition to the Taliban, which has sought the Afghan seat at the United Nations. Rabbani continues to be recognized as the official representative of Afghanistan.

Inside Afghanistan
Read CBS News Anchor Dan Rather's series of reports:

Part One: Aftermath Of A War Of Terror

Part Two: Afghanistan's Veil Of Oppression

Part Three: An Afghan In America

Bin Laden, 43, is suspected of masterminding the deadly 1998 bombings of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Bin Laden denies involvement in the attacks.

U.S. officials want bin Laden to stand trial in the United States or a third country. He is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list.

Since the embassy bombing, bin Laden and his group al-Qaida have become a focus of U.S anti-terrorism efforts by both diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The United States was the driving force behind sanctions imposed on the Taliban administration a year ago for refusing to hand over bin Laden to stand trial for the embassy bombings.

In the past year, possible signs of bin Laden's perceived increasing influence have emerged around the globe:

  • In a separate report, the anti-Taliban alliance cited "reports" that bin Laden, a multi-millionaire, had donated $5 million to an envoy from anti-Russian Chechen fighters at a meeting in Kandahar on Nov. 2. It said bin Laden had also promised to send trained fighters to help the Chechens in their struggle for independence from Russia. There have been repeated reports of Chechens training in Afghanistan.
  • In an annual report on terrorism released last June, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service called bin Laden's brand of extremism "the preeminent international terrorist threat."
  • Bin Laden supporters have been tried in Lebanon and Jordan on charges they planned to strike U.S. and Israeli targets.
  • in May, CBS News reported that bin Laden scouts had resumed probing the defenses of American facilities and hangouts in the Middle East for possible bomb attacks.
  • And bin Laden has been linked to the Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels who have held dozens of people captive on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines.