The U.S. spy agencies have not known where Osama bin Laden is hiding for some time, the nation’s top intelligence official said Friday in an Associated Press interview.
National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said the general view is that the terror leader and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are still alive.
Yet “we are not certain where he is,” Negroponte said of bin Laden during a rare interview at his office. “I think it’s been a while since we had a fix on that. ... Every now and then they broadcast messages to their following and the world as a way of proving they are alive.”
In the last two weeks, bin Laden and al-Zawahri have delivered recorded messages promising more attacks on the West. It was bin Laden’s first public statement in more than a year.
But little is publicly known about where the two are thought to be hiding, and details on the manhunt remain closely guarded. The United States is offering $25 million rewards for information leading to the killing or capture of either terrorist leader.
U.S. and Afghan forces pursued bin Laden at the 2001 battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, but he is believed to have escaped. U.S. officials do not believe he and al-Zawahri are now hiding together, and bin Laden many be in a more remote location.
“Clearly, they are operating in more difficult circumstances than before 9/11,” Negroponte said. “The successes we had in going after bin Laden’s top leadership over the past several years have definitely cramped his style.”