Media reports in the United States say the Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that was devoted to tracking international terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants.

The New York Times Tuesday published a report quoting officials who confirmed that the unit was disbanded last year, and that its analysts were reassigned within the agency's counterterrorism center.

Initial news of the unit's closure was reported on National Public Radio Monday.

The Times quotes a CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, as saying bin Laden's capture remains a high priority.

Intelligence officials say the unit closure reflects a view that al-Qaida is not as hierarchical as it once was, and that terrorists may be carrying out attacks independent of bin Laden.

The Times reports that the disbanded unit, known as Alec Station, operated for a decade just outside Washington, and was staffed by 24 people.

Some information for this report was provided by  AP.