- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2009

UPDATED:

President Obama’s top security adviser said Sunday he isn’t sure if Osama bin Laden is alive or dead but that the United States will continue to hunt the terrorist leader.

National Security Advisor James Jones said on ABC’s “This Week” program that evidence of the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts is “inconclusive.”

“The truth is, I don’t think anybody knows for sure,” he said.

But the retired Marine general vowed that U.S. intelligence agencies won’t stop combing the world for confirmed appearances of the al Qaeda leader, saying that “we’ll just continue to press on and we’ll see what happens there.”

Mr. Jones added that even if bin Laden’s influence and effectiveness has waned within al Qaeda, finding and capturing him would be a major symbolic blow to the anti-American terrorist movement worldwide.

“It’s clear that movement has been resilient in replacing their leaders as quickly as we are able to capture or eliminate them,” Mr. Jones said. “But I think symbolically it would be a very big thing if [bin Laden] weren’t” in control.

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan says he thinks bin Laden is dead, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that he believes the terrorist leader is alive.

When Mr. Zardari was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday as to the terrorist leader’s whereabouts, he quipped that the since the United States has been searching for him for eight years, “you tell me.”

“You’ve lost him in Tora Bora — I didn’t,” he said.

Mr. Zardari said that his country will continue to cooperate with the United States in searching for bin Laden.

“The world is looking for him, and we are part of the world,” he said.