- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

BERLIN (AP) The head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency said in an interview published yesterday that he believes Osama bin Laden is still alive and hiding along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
August Hanning, the head of the Federal Intelligence Service, also estimated that more than 5,000 supporters of al Qaeda and Afghanistan's ousted Taliban militia remain in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, but many others have returned to their homelands.
"They are preparing attacks from their new locations. They will try everything to strike again," he was quoted as saying in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "We must be prepared for that."
He did not refer to specific plans.
Bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network are held responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Soon after the attacks, President Bush said he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive."
Since then, Mr. Bush and other U.S. officials have played down the search for bin Laden, saying the more important goal is disrupting al Qaeda and preventing future attacks.
"As our knowledge stands, we are convinced that bin Laden is still alive, in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan," Mr. Hanning was quoted as saying.
"He is still the symbolic figurehead of al Qaeda but apparently moves around little, and when he does, in a very secretive manner," Mr. Hanning added, without elaborating.
Last Monday, Mr. Bush said he does not know whether bin Laden is dead or alive.
German security agencies have worked closely with their counterparts in the United States to investigate the September 11 attacks after they learned that three of the suicide hijackers had lived undetected in Hamburg.
Mr. Hanning said bin Laden was consulted in planning for major al Qaeda attacks, "but he did not operationally prepare the actions and probably didn't even know all the details of the preparations."
He added the preparations for September 11 "didn't cost much more than $1 million."


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