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Is Osama Bin Ladin in One of Pakistan’s Caves?

by JJ Green


WASHINGTON -- If you think Osama bin Laden is hiding in a cave along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, think again!

That's the advice from Said Jawad, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States.

Seated in a plush chair in a large reception room near his office in the District's tony Embassy Row, Jawad appears anxious to respond to allegations that Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan.

"If Osama were in Afghanistan, we would've found him by now," Jawad said.

Jawad said bin Laden, aside from being a 6-foot, 5-inch Arab who doesn't speak their language, is the head of a terrorist organization.

"That requires a lot connectivity to the outside world through the Internet and all the criminal activities that they have. It would be hard for me to believe he's hiding in a cave in Afghanistan," Jawad said.

Jawad was responding to Mahmud Durrani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, who recently told WTOP, "We cannot find bin Laden in Pakistan, because he's not there. He's in Afghanistan."

So why wouldn't bin Laden be hiding in a cave?

"{As an} Afghan would {I} run to North Dakota if I were trying to escape from the law? No, I would go to some large city like New York, where I could blend in," Jawad said.

That theory should be applied in the hunt for bin Laden, Jawad said. He adds that the locations where the search is underway should be drastically changed.

"We should look where we have found the closest associates of Osama bin Laden in major metropolitan cities in Pakistan," Jawad said.

The banter between the two ambassadors began about 10 days ago, when I interviewed Durrani at his office. He was not happy with Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Ill., suggestion the United States go into Afghanistan looking for bin Laden.

We sat down in two chairs facing each other and I began the interview by asking him to explain why the Pakistani government was so upset about the latest al Qaida intelligence.

He obliged and in his response, there was a polite edge.

"The latest intelligence review is based a lot on assumptions and inaccurate information and the final judgments I do not agree with them. Pakistan does not agree with them," Durrani explained.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate says al Qaida has found a safe haven in Pakistan. That judgment has been the source of considerable angst in Pakistan for weeks.

Clearly annoyed by the report, Durrani said flatly, the NIE is wrong.

When asked how he can be so sure, he answered, "We should know more than you, I think, and we have even better intelligence than you, I think -- at least human intelligence."

With bin Laden is still at large after five years of searching and billions of U.S. dollars being poured into Pakistan, some in Washington say the U.S. should send troops into Pakistan to find him, because the Pakistani military is not getting the job done.

But Durrani gave a friendly warning.

"This idea strikes me as very bad.. it will not be granted. Pakistan is a sovereign state. We think we are as good as you as far as hunting terrorists is concerned."

Visibly agitated, Durrani, intimated Pakistanis won't stand for it.

"The people of a Pakistan [who] are not happy about all the cooperation is giving, if this happens, then you can well imagine what will happen."

He intimated that some people in Washington need to watch what they say.

"I will only say some irresponsible statements have been made in the recent past," Durrani said.

When asked where those statements came from, Durrani replied, "I think...politics!"

The discussion between Jawad and Durrani seems to have political underpinning as well.

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