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US Does Not Know Where bin Laden Is - 2002-01-18


U.S. defense officials don't know where al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is or whether he is even alive. But the commander of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan warned Friday there is no place for bin Laden to hide.

General Tommy Franks said Osama bin Laden may be hiding somewhere. But he's confident the terrorist leader will not be able to hide forever.

"The world is not a large enough place for him to hide," the general said. "He may hide today. He may hide tomorrow. But it's not large enough for him to hide in."

For the moment, despite extensive searches and a determined effort to gather intelligence, U.S. authorities are not even sure if bin Laden is dead or alive, General Franks told reporters. "We do not know the location of bin Laden," he said. "Bin Laden could be - you know we're in the speculative sort of world - bin Laden could be alive or dead or in Afghanistan or not."

General Franks was asked specifically about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's suggestion that the terrorist leader may have died of kidney failure. He said he has no intelligence to confirm or deny that.

General Franks spoke to reporters from Tampa, Florida, where the U.S. military's Central Command is headquartered.

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