Nearer to Thee, Osama?


Britain?s Sunday Express is reporting that Osama bin Laden has been spotted by an N.S.A. satellite in the Pakistani province of Waziristan. The Express? website offers few article links, but London?s Sunday Telegraph, reporting on the Express story, noted:

The [Express] claims he is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta. The region is said to be peopled with bin Laden supporters and the terrorist leader is estimated to also have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards with him.

The claim is attributed to ?a well-placed intelligence source? in Washington, who is quoted as saying: ?He (bin Laden) is boxed in.?

The paper says the hostile terrain makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible. The plan to capture him would depend on a ?grab-him-and-go? style operation.

However, on its website today, the Express did link to a story that seemed to qualify the previous one:

New operations aimed at cornering al-Qaeda and Taliban holdouts sheltering in the Pakistani tribal belt where Osama bin Laden may be hiding are soon to get under way, military and intelligence sources have said… It will be conducted in the Waziristan tribal region in Pakistan?s Northwest Frontier province, intelligence sources said.

Bin Laden was not the immediate target of the operation, said one senior Pakistani intelligence official. But he said the hope was that the operation would net clues that would ultimately lead to the ?biggest evil?.

Also, the Sunday issue of the London-based Arabic language Al-Hayat reported in its lead story that it was Ayman al-Zawahiri who had possibly been spotted in Waziristan, though no mention was made of bin Laden.

Correction–The Sunday Telegraph cited above is not the British one, but the Australian one, serving New South Wales. And yes, the Express link has changed, so what you get is a new story.