[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 04:51 GMT 05:51 UK
'No evidence' of Bin Laden death
Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden is blamed for attacks across the world
The Saudi government has denied a French newspaper report saying France's secret services believe Osama Bin Laden is dead.

The newspaper quoted the Saudi secret services as saying the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan.

But, in a statement, the Saudi government said it had "no evidence" that Bin Laden was dead.

The French president has ordered an inquiry into the leaked French secret service memo containing the claim.


"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama Bin Laden is dead," the Saudi government said.

It would be very nice to confirm that he is dead - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York or wherever, but I think such claims are unsubstantiated
Mahmud Ali Durrani
Pakistan's ambassador to US

"Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified."

French newspaper L'Est Republicain quoted a document as saying that the Saudi secret services were convinced the al-Qaeda leader had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August.

Officials in Pakistan and the US said they could not confirm the account.

Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Mahmud Ali Durrani told BBC News 24 that he doubted the claims were true:

"It would be very nice to confirm that he is dead - in Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York or wherever, but I think such claims are unsubstantiated."

Saudi-born Bin Laden was based in Afghanistan until the Taleban government there was overthrown by US-backed forces in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.

Since then, US and Pakistani officials have regularly said they believe he is hiding in the lawless border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

His last videotaped message was released in late 2004, but several audio tapes have been released this year - the last at the end of June, in which Bin Laden praised Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed in an American air strike.


In its report, the French regional daily said it had obtained a copy of a DGSE foreign intelligence service report dated 21 September.

"According to a usually reliable source, the Saudi services are now convinced that Osama Bin Laden is dead," it read.

"The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al-Qaeda fell victim, while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, to a very serious case of typhoid that led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs."

Mr Chirac said: "I am surprised that a confidential memo from the secret services has been published, therefore I've ordered the defence minister to start an inquiry.

"As far as the information itself is concerned, it's not confirmed in any way. Therefore I have no comment at all."

The Washington-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said it was not aware of any similar reports on the internet.

"We've seen nothing from any al-Qaeda messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama Bin Laden," director Ben Venzke told the Associated Press news agency.

More on the claims that Osama bin Laden is dead

Bin Laden '9/11 video' broadcast
07 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Pakistan denies Bin Laden 'gaffe'
06 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Al-Qaeda 'issues France threat'
14 Sep 06 |  Europe
Who's who in al-Qaeda
07 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Timeline: Al-Qaeda
04 Sep 06 |  Special Reports

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific