Image: Osama bin Laden
AP file
A top U.S. counterterrorism official on Saturday said parts of Pakistan are a "safe haven" for militants and Osama bin Laden, shown in an undated photo.
updated 5/6/2006 2:35:29 PM ET 2006-05-06T18:35:29

A top U.S. counterterrorism official said Saturday that parts of Pakistan are a “safe haven” for militants and Osama bin Laden was more likely to be hiding there than in Afghanistan.

Henry Crumpton, the U.S. ambassador in charge of counterterrorism, lauded Pakistan for arresting “hundreds and hundreds” of al-Qaida figures but said it needed to do more.

“Has Pakistan done enough? I think the answer is no. I have conveyed that to them, other U.S. officials have conveyed that to them,” he told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after talks with Afghan officials.

Crumpton said U.S. officials continue to believe that bin Laden is somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and was more likely to be on the Pakistani side.

“If we knew exactly where bin Laden was, we’d go get him,” Crumpton said. “But we’re very confident he’s along the Pakistan-Afghan border somewhere,” he said.

He added that there was a “higher probability” that the al-Qaida leader was hiding on the Pakistan side.

Crumpton also gave Islamabad credit for last year’s capture of a top al-Qaida strategist with a $5 million bounty on his head.

U.S. and Pakistani officials said earlier this week that Mustafa Setmarian Nasar was arrested in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta in November. Crumpton said that this showed that Pakistan is working to arrest al-Qaida leaders.

Pakistan also has launched repeated counterterrorism operations in its lawless tribal regions close to the Afghan border over the past two years, in which hundreds of militants and soldiers have died.

“Our expectation is that they will continue to make progress, and we know that it’s difficult,” he said. Pakistan “can’t remain a safe haven for enemy forces, and right now parts of Pakistan are indeed that.”

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