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Why death rumours dog Laden?

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Sep 24, 2006 at 10:46pm IST

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New Delhi: America wants to see him dead though President George W Bush insists that he wants Osama bin Laden to be caught alive. The paranoid West wants to somehow get rid of this most dangerous man on earth while for most of the Muslim world, Laden is still the hero.

A terror symbol that Laden has become after the ghastly 9/11 terror, for most parts of world his shadow looms large even as terror casts its wings far and wide, wounding one corner of the world today, devastating another part tomorrow.

It's hardly surprising that for most of the major violent strikes worldwide ever since 9/11, the terror trail has led to only one man, Osama bin Laden, or his cronies.

SHADOW WARRIOR: In the last five years since 9/11, Osama's death rumours have hit the headlines at least four times.

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that rumours of ill-health and death of this man have kept the world engaged from time to time. On Saturday, a secret document leaked in France had claimed Saudi secret services believed Laden had died of a water-borne disease in late August.

A French newspaper broke the news first quoting France's DGSE foreign intelligence service as saying that the Saudi secret services were convinced that the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia denied it had any evidence that Osama bin Laden had died. The US also said that it could not confirm the report in French newspaper.

But this was not an isolated case when Laden was declared dead. Over the past five years since 9/11, Osama's death rumours have hit the headlines on at least four occasions. Here are details on some of the previous rumours:-

> 2001: The Pakistan Observer newspaper said in December that bin Laden had died of a lung disease, been buried in Tora Bora, and his grave levelled in line with the beliefs of Saudi Arabia's Wahabi sect.

>2002: Essam Darez, an Egyptian freelance writer who spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1990, said in a January interview that he was 99 per cent certain he was killed by bombing in the caves of Afghanistan. Darez said a video broadcast in December 2001 of bin Laden delivering a rambling, improvised address, could be the last the world would see of him.

>2002: Pakistan in January described as absurd a report that bin Laden secretly underwent dialysis in a Pakistani hospital a day before the September 11 attacks on the United States.

2003: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview released in January that intelligence services believed bin Laden was dead. "It is an assessment, not a proven proof," Gen Musharraf said in an interview with the Italian news weekly Panorama.

2006: France and the United States said they could not confirm a report in the French regional daily L'Est Republicain quoting French foreign intelligence service as saying that the Saudi secret services were convinced that bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August.

(With Reuters input)

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