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Pakistan Calls Osama Bin Laden Isolated, Ineffective


Senior Pakistani officials claim to have effectively destroyed al-Qaida's communications network in Pakistan, and say terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden is almost completely isolated and out of touch.

Pakistani officials claim Osama bin Laden's only contact with his supporters is now limited to handwritten messages delivered by trusted couriers.

Pakistan's military spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan, says it takes the terrorist leader more than two months to exchange information with his al-Qaida associates. "So that clearly indicates that Osama, at this moment, is isolated," he said. "He is no longer effective as an operational commander or an al-Qaida commander."

The general, who provided no details of how the Pakistani government came by this information, says bin Laden's electronic communications network, which included satellite phones, computers and radios, has been virtually wiped out.

Pakistani officials believe the man is now protected by only a handful of his most loyal supporters and does not travel with large groups to avoid detection. He is thought to be hiding out in the rugged border region dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan, although nobody has claimed to have certain information about his whereabouts.

Pakistan has deployed more than 80,000 troops to the region to hunt for him and wipe out extremist base camps.

Lieutenant General Safdar Hussein is in charge of the military's operations in Pakistan's northern tribal areas. "Let me say that our track record on fighting terrorism is unprecedented," he said. "We have apprehended over 700 foreign terrorists."

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Pakistan has become a key ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism. In those four years, Pakistan has helped capture several of al-Qaida's top officials, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who allegedly helped plan the September 11th attacks.

Last year Pakistan arrested Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, who provided critical information about al-Qaida's network around the world. Leads from that case also helped officials capture Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted for his role in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa.

In exchange, Washington has provided Islamabad with billions of dollars in military and development assistance. But some critics accuse Pakistan of backing off its commitment to fight terrorism.

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai claims Taleban insurgents are receiving training in Pakistan, and U.S. officials have said more could still be done to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. He may have lost operational control of al-Qaida, but officials warn that bin Laden remains a powerful symbol for Islamic militants around the world.

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