Osama Bin Laden was actually spotted in the flesh just a few days ago - according to counter terror sources with the DEBKAfile. Between October 17 and October 19, an Indian air force reconnaissance plane picked him up in the Tibet-Laddakh region close to the North-Eastern corner of Pakistan bordering India and China.
Additional surveillance aircraft were called in and identified the al Qaeda leader on the move with a 10-vehicle convoy of black Japanese minivans. Four of the vehicles turned up again on Friday, October 22 heading east towards the Chinese border. Debkafile sources maintain that the rumored sightings of bin Laden on the Lingzi Thang Plain on the Tibetan border in June may have been true then, but are now outdated. In any case, he was not at the time in Pakistani Waziristan or the Afghan-Pakistani border as was suspected.
The agents hunting the al Qaeda leader are working on the premise that he has decided to wait out the winter months in one of two regions: Hunza province in the Northern Frontier tip of Indian Kashmir or Little Pamir, where fanatical Tajik tribes have never allowed any Kabul government - whether Taliban or led by Karzai - to secure a foothold. Little Pamir is wedged between Tajikistan where Russian special forces taking part in the bin Laden dragnet are deployed and China.
Before launching the Sept.11 attacks, bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Zawahiri, prepared snug havens in the caverns that riddle the towering 5,000-8,000 mountain peaks.
In the 1970s, the Russians converted the Little Pamir cave warren into subterranean silos for nuclear missiles pointing towards China. But even the Russians found the cold and harsh conditions unendurable and by the mid-1980s the bases were abandoned.
Nothing on Osama bin Laden's new tape released Friday, October 29, 2004 gave away information on the his whereabouts. Even though it was dropped in Islamabad a few hours prior at the gate of Al Jazeera’s Pakistan bureau chief, Pakistan was quick to deny the fugitive was hiding in that country. “He cannot be in the tribal areas because of the presence of so many troops,” said interior minister Aftab Khan Sherpao. In Afghanistan, the US military suggested he was somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistani border.
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