Bin Laden may be dead - Zardari


Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari said today that the whereabouts of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remained a mystery and there was a suspicion that he could be dead.

Mr Zardari said US officials had told him that they had no trace of the al-Qaeda leader, although they habitually say he is most likely in Pakistan.

Pakistan's own intelligence agencies had no confirmation of Bin Laden’s status either, Mr Zardari said.

"There is no news," the president said. "They obviously feel that he does not exist anymore but that's not confirmed, we can't confirm that."

Al Jazeera aired excerpts of an audio recording in March in which the speaker's voice sounded like earlier messages from Bin Laden, who has eluded all efforts to catch him since al-Qaeda carried out the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Bin Laden's 52nd birthday was on March 10th. He is known to suffer from ill-health.

There have been reports that he had died of natural causes in the past, but they have never been corroborated, and security analysts believe intelligence agencies monitoring jihadi websites on the internet would have picked up some chatter.