Dr. August Hanning, Germany’s foreign intelligence chief, has every reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well in Pakistan. According to Dr. Hanning, he had information about the al Qaeda’s founder and chief’s whereabouts back in 2001. Unfortunately, it was never brought to actionable intelligence that would have led to his capture
Hanning told CNN that when Osama bin Laden was being bombed at Tora Bora, al Qaueda’s leader was watching the events unfolding right in front of his eyes. Hanning did not elaborate on his source of information but he admits to agents feeding him news and updates on Bin Laden.
He also said that it was a “missed opportunity” to track down the 53 year old FBI’s ten most wanted fugitive. “I knew there was a chance in Afghanistan I think immediately before Tora Bora and in Tora Bora … I think there was a real opportunity to catch him and afterwards in Pakistan it became very difficult,” Hanning told CNN.
The lost opportunity is definitely lamentable, especially for the United States. Bin Laden and his Islamic extremist group al-Qaueda is believed to be behind the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He and his group is currently major targets of the United States War on Terror.
He also pointed out that Bin Laden’s ability to inspire makes him more dangerous today than back then. “He’s not operational but I think he knows the basics. He makes strategic decisions, and of course he’s a symbolic figure and figures are important. ”
Hanning is confident that the Saudi born “terrorist” is in Pakistan, saying: “I think there are still a lot of hints that he is in Pakistan, and according to my estimates he is in the tribal areas in the region near Peshawar: the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
Pakistani officials, however, consistently deny Bin Laden’s presence on their soil. But Hanning believes otherwise, saying co-conspirators are hiding him. “It’s hard for me to believe that they know nothing. In some ways the al Qaeda leader is useful to Pakistan, so long [as] bin Laden is in Pakistan so Pakistan will get support from the Americans’ fight against terrorism.”
Hanning, who was appointed State Secretary in the German Federal Interior Ministry at the end of 2005, believes that tracking down bin Laden is crucial to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. He said that bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan needs to be cleared as al Qaeda is likely to return to Afghanistan if possible.
Hanning left his post last year. Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was born on March 10, 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is the son of Muhammed Awad bin Laden, a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family, and Hamida al-Attas, the tenth wife of Muhammed bin Laden. Osama is best known as the founder and leader of the Islamic extremist group, al-Qaeda, a notorious rogue bandits responsible for the 1998 US Embassy and 2001 World Trade bombings and other “terror” attacks.