WASHINGTON: Elusive al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan although the Pakistani government at top levels may not know about it, the US said on Wednesday.
Asked about a statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that some elements in the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts, US State Department spokesperson Phillip Crowley said Clinton had only reiterated what she had said last October.
“We believe – I think we believe that he is – remains in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan but I’ll leave it there,” he told reporters.
The spokesperson said that Clinton was not suggesting that there is specific knowledge of where bin Laden is at the highest levels.
“I think what the secretary was saying was that it’s our belief that somewhere within the government there is this kind of knowledge, and we would hope that if that knowledge is available we can find out and take appropriate action,” Crowley said.
The US is constantly evaluating the effectiveness of more than $13 billion in aid given to Pakistan for fighting terrorism and encourages the country to cease support for terrorist groups, said Crowley in response to another question.
“We are continually evaluating how to make [the aid] as effective as possible, how to channel it so that as much as possible gets to the intended beneficiaries,” he said when asked about a senator’s letter to Clinton asking for a congressionally mandated report on the effectiveness of US aid that was due on April 15.
Democrat Senator Robert Menendez’s letter, which was released on Monday when Clinton was in Islamabad, pointed out that with much of al Qaeda’s leadership believed to be residing in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the country has received more than $13 billion in the US aid since the Sep 11, 2001 attacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2010.
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