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Powell Says Bin Laden Still in Afghanistan - 2001-11-18


Secretary of State Colin Powell says Osama bin Laden is probably still in Afghanistan, even though he is running out of places to hide. The exact whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain unknown.

Taleban officials gave conflicting information over the weekend, finally saying the leader of the al-Qaida terrorist organization is no longer their "guest."

Secretary of State Colin Powell says Osama bin Laden is running out of options as opposition forces in Afghanistan take over more territory from the Taleban. But Mr. Powell says he is probably on Afghan soil. "I have seen no intelligence or information to suggest he has left Afghanistan," he said, "and I do not know of any country in the region that would be very anxious to see him arrive."

During an appearance on the Fox News Sunday television program, Secretary Powell said the world has recognized the true nature of Osama bin Laden. "I do not think this fellow is going to be welcomed anywhere," he said. "He is an outcast. He is a murderer. He is a terrorist. The whole world recognizes that."

The Secretary of State was then asked if he believes Osama Bin Laden has weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Powell said certain materials have been found that indicate that is his intent. "I do not think he has a nuclear weapon," he explained, "I think that is quite unlikely. The material that we have seen in these safe houses certainly suggests that he was interested in one and [was] moving in that direction."

In a subsequent interview a short time later on ABC television's This Week, Secretary Powell said even though the Taleban is losing territory in Afghanistan, no one should think the war on terrorism is nearing total victory. He said the anti-terror coalition must still crush al-Qaida and break the international terrorist network.