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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 14:52 GMT
Bin Laden 'not in Pakistan'
Pakistan's information minister has denied reports that Osama Bin Laden could be in hiding on its territory.

Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden - dead or alive?
The minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, was responding to a report that letters written by the al-Qaeda leader had been found on Saturday.

The AFP news agency said the letters were discovered during the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the 11 September attacks on the US, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

It is still not known for sure if Bin Laden survived the US-led campaign in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

Mr Ahmed told the BBC Urdu service that it was not true any letters from Bin Laden were found on Sheikh Mohammed.

KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's pictures on FBI website

And he was adamant that Bin Laden was not in Pakistan.

AFP had quoted an unnamed security official as saying letters in Sheikh Mohammed's possession "strongly suggest Bin Laden is alive and may be hiding in the region".

"Pakistani interrogators believe that the writing... matches that of Osama Bin Laden," the official said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan said the arrest of Sheikh Mohammed had resulted in enough information to make further arrests in connection with al-Qaeda operations in the country.

US President George W Bush has hailed the capture of Sheikh Mohammed as a "serious blow" to al-Qaeda.

'Valuable information

It is believed much of the new information on al-Qaeda has come from computer and other equipment seized in the raid to capture Sheikh Mohammed last Saturday.

"Pakistani agencies now have valuable information to crack down on whatever their linkages in Pakistan, active or sleeping," Pakistan's Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told AFP.

"There will be more arrests on the basis of information gleaned out of him and the other suspect."

'No longer a problem'

President Bush described Sheikh Mohammed as al-Qaeda's "top operational planner" and "top killer", in comments on Tuesday.

"The man who masterminded the 11 September attacks is no longer a problem."
As far as anyone coming through Bagram... we don't comment on it
Colonel Roger King
US forces in Afghanistan

Pakistan says Sheikh Mohammed is now in US custody at an undisclosed location.

Reports say he and another suspect detained in the raid, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, were taken to a US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan.

The spokesman for the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Roger King would not confirm the reports.

"As far as anyone being taken under coalition control, anybody coming through Bagram, anybody going to other places, we don't comment on it," he told journalists on Wednesday.

A third man, Pakistani national Ahmed Abdul Qadus, was also arrested in Saturday's raid.

A Pakistani army officer related to him is being questioned in connection with the arrests.

Wanted

Australia wants to question Sheikh Mohammed in connection with last October's bombings in Bali, in which more than 200 people were killed, including 89 Australians.

A French judge has also issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with a suicide bomb attack on a Tunisian synagogue last year, justice officials in Paris said.

Sheikh Mohammed has been indicted in America for plotting to blow up American commercial airliners in the Philippines in the mid-1990s.

A reward of $25 million was offered for his capture.




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