Afghan president: bin Laden ‘definitely’ in region
December 12, 2004
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that Osama bin Laden is “definitely” in the region and eventually will be caught, even though American and Pakistani generals admit the trail is cold.
Speculation on bin Laden’s whereabouts has long focused on the mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leader slipped away from Afghan and U.S. forces three years ago.
“It’s very difficult to say where he is hiding. He cannot be away from this region. He’s definitely in this region,” Karzai told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We will get him sooner or later, trust me on that.”
Pakistan’s army has mounted a series of bloody offensives against foreign fighters near the border this year, and American forces launched a winter-long operation last week against Taliban rebels on the Afghan side.
But there has been no indication they are close to seizing the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Pressed in the CNN interview, recorded Sunday in the Afghan capital, Karzai declined to say whether bin Laden could be in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan. He said he knew of no suggestion the al-Qaida leader could be in neighboring Iran.
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“But we can definitely say he’s around this region and he can’t run forever,” Karzai said.
Terrorism concerns aside, Karzai has expressed alarm at his country’s booming narcotics industry, which the United Nations says is turning Afghanistan into a “narco-state.”
On Sunday, Afghan judges and prosecutors began training for special courts officials hope will begin jailing heroin and opium kingpins early next year.
Karzai said Afghans were “embarrassed” to be the world’s biggest suppliers of opium and heroin.