New Delhi: A jihadist prisoner being held in Pakistan has reportedly claimed to have had information regarding al Qaeda’s chief Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts in January or February of this year.
Albeit his claims cannot be confirmed, yet a leading US expert, former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, insists on probing into his account.
As per the latest news report, the detainee has claimed to have met Osama a number of times before September 11, 2001 attacks.
In early 2009, he claimed to have met a trusted contact, a Mehsud tribesman, who had seen Osama 15-20 days earlier across the border in Afghanistan, the BBC reports.
"In 2009, in January or February I met this friend of mine. He said he had come from meeting Sheikh Osama, and he could arrange for me to meet him," he said.
His contact “helps al Qaeda people coming from other countries to get to the sheikh, so he can advise them on whatever they are planning for Europe or other places.”
"The sheikh doesn`t stay in any one place. That guy came from Ghazni, so I think that`s where the sheikh was."
Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan has a robust Taliban presence.
According to the detainee, militants were evading moving into Pakistan’s territory because of the risk of US drone attacks.
"Pakistan at this time is not convenient for us to stay in because a lot of our senior people are being martyred in drone attacks," he said.
In the meantime, Riedel said: "The entire Western intelligence community, CIA and M16, have been looking for Osama bin Laden for the last seven years and haven`t come upon a source of information like this.”
"So if it`s true - a big if - this is an extraordinary and important story.”
"We know Osama bin Laden is alive. We know that he is living somewhere in the badlands along the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
"What is extraordinary about this story is we have someone who has come forward and said, really for the first time, `I met with Osama bin Laden and I had the opportunity to met him again in the recent past`."