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Anatomy of a bin Laden rumor

Some of leading militant Web sites have posted a claim Wednesday that Osama bin Laden has been slightly wounded in a battle in Afghanistan.  Both U.S. and Spanish authorities say no such attack occurred. So why would this message be spreading across the Internet?

Some of leading militant Web sites have posted a claim Wednesday that Osama bin Laden has been slightly wounded in a battle in Afghanistan.

The Internet message was first posted Tuesday and later popped up on a number of usually-credible militant sites. The posting claims that Osama Bin Laden has returned to the battlefield and that he recently led an attack against a Spanish base in Afghanistan, during which two dozen Spanish soldiers were killed and Bin Laden was slightly wounded.

Both U.S. and Spanish authorities say no such attack occurred. Senior U.S. officials also note that various videos indicate Bin Laden is frail and isn't physically capable of leading an attack. 

So why would this message be spreading across the Internet? Experts believe the goal probably is to motivate militants around the world, painting the image of their ultimate leader returning to lead them in battle... rather than hiding in a cave.