ibnlive » World

Jun 15, 2007 at 09:10pm IST

'I don't know where Osama is!'

New Delhi: Ever since the Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, the whereabouts of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden have remained a mystery.

Now, the man who gave him shelter and support, Taliban chief, Mullah Omar, whose whereabouts are also not known has replied to questions sent to his spokesman Mohammad Hanif by Reuters agency.

In his reply Mullah Omar says: "No, I have neither seen him, nor have I made any effort to do so, but I pray for his health and safety."

His comment has again stirred speculation that Osama may not be alive. Although video tapes of him were circulated last year, they were based on old footage.

Last September a French paper had reported that Osama had died in August of that year, apparently of typhoid. However, there's been no confirmation of this fact.

It can also be argued that Osama is alive, is keeping a low profile and Mullah Omar's reply is intended to throw Osama's hunters off the track.

The hunt for Mullah Omar has been similarly unsuccessful. He's widely rumoured to be near Quetta in Pakistan, but Islamabad says he's in Afghanistan.

It's not even clear if Mullah Omar is behind the rising intensity of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan.