09 December 2001
America's top military officer says U.S. forces know in general where Osama bin Laden is hiding in eastern Afghanistan. Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comment on U.S. television Sunday.
General Myers told Fox television that the United States is making what he called "modest gains" in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida terrorist network.
General Myers says U.S.-led alliance forces are encountering fierce resistance from al-Qaida members near the eastern town of Tora Bora. "In the hunt up there," he said, "we think we know in general where he is. [We] Can't be sure. But we think we know. And we are approaching it from a couple of different directions. One is, we have got opposition folks that are prosecuting the war against the al-Qaida up there in the hills. The fighting has been very, very intense. We also have some small number of U.S. forces up there that are trying to get their eyes onto some of these targets, so they can help either the opposition or help our air strikes on those locations."
General Myers was quick to add, however, that the United States does not have absolute proof of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, nor those of Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.
Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says U.S. commanders on the ground are constantly sifting through numerous reports from sources who have reported spotting Osama bin Laden. He was interviewed on ABC's This Week program. "We are looking as hard as we can. We are tracing every report that comes our way. I think people need to understand that most of these reports have the quality of rumor, and if all the rumors concentrate in a certain area, you tend to think that is where they probably are. But these are people on the run. I think that is the important thing. People with a price on their head, people who are going to have great difficulty carrying out or planning any additional terrorist acts."
General Myers also says that U.S. Marines are having success in preventing Taleban and al-Qaida forces from fleeing southern Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan.