Iranian Radio Reports Bin Laden Captured
28 feb 2004
TEHRAN, Iran (AP)--Iran's state radio, quoting an unnamed source, said Saturday that Osama bin Laden was captured in Pakistan ``a long time ago.'' A Pakistan army spokesman denied he was captured.
The report said that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit to the region this week was in connection with the arrest.
The state radio said a reporter for its Pushtun service in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar ``confirmed the news'' that bin Laden had been captured in a tribal region in Pakistan. He said the news was from ``a very reliable source in Peshawar, Pakistan,'' but the source was not identified.
Pakistani Army spokesman Gen. Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press that the report is completely untrue. ``That information is wrong,'' he said.
A Pakistani military operation has been under way in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan and a Pakistani official said previously that members of al-Qaida are being sought there, although bin laden was not a specific target.
Iranian state radio quoted its reporter as saying the arrest happened a long time ago.
``Osama bin Laden has been arrested a long time ago, but Bush is intending to use it for propaganda maneuvering in the presidential election,'' he said.
Homayoun Jarir, son-in-law of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said he could not confirm the report.
Shamim Shahed, the bureau chief for ``The Nation,'' an English-language newspaper in Peshawar, was cited by the director of IRNA's Pashtun radio service as the source of the bin Laden report.
But Shahed denied in an AP interview ever telling the Iranian news service that bin Laden had been captured.
``I never said this, but I have for the last year been saying that he is not far away. He is within their (the Americans) reach, and they can declare him arrested anytime,'' Shahed said. He gave no evidence to back up that claim.
AP-NY-02-28-04 0601EST http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/ap/ap_story.html/Intl/AP.V7725.AP-Bin-Laden.html