Washington, March 18 (Reuters): A CIA video believed to show Osama bin Laden at an al Qaida camp has revealed how close the US got to him long before the September 11 attacks, but the unmanned and unarmed spy plane that shot the film was unable to kill him, a US official said yesterday.
The videotape of an al Qaida compound in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms was filmed around September 2000, and shows a very tall, white-clad figure surrounded by several others dressed in darker clothes. The group is too distant to make out faces, but the US government is convinced the man in white was bin Laden. “It was widely believed that that was UBL (bin Laden), believed then, believed now,” a US official said.
The video, which was kept secret until it was broadcast by NBC yesterday, was made about a year before the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.
US forces recently have stepped up the hunt for bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in the rugged border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Predator drones like the pilotless spy plane that shot the film had not been outfitted with missiles at the time the video was taken, but the film played a major role in accelerating the process to arm the drones, a US official said.
The US was testing Predators armed with missiles during the summer of 2001.