Singapore, March 24 (Reuters): Osama bin Laden, suspected architect of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, may have fled to Pakistan to evade the US-led manhunt, the Asian Wall Street Journal quoted President Pervez Musharraf as saying.
In an interview published today, Musharraf for the first time moved away from his position that the world’s most wanted man and the leader of the al Qaida network could not escape notice inside Pakistan, the Journal said.
Military operations in Afghanistan would have dispersed bin Laden’s retinue, and forced his much-reduced group to flee into the lawless tribal areas on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, the Journal reported Musharraf as saying.
“If he is relegated to that position, where his group is forced or divided into small packets, now a small packet with him coming on our side (of the border) and now hiding in one area, a house or a room, is a possibility,” the newspaper quoted Musharraf as saying last week.
“So, therefore, as the environment keeps changing, one has to keep evaluating what are the possibilities,” he was quoted as saying. “The possibility is there.” Some of the most important members of bin Laden’s al Qaida network have been captured in Pakistan including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind believed to have put together the September 11, 2001, attacks, who was arrested in the central city of Rawalpindi last month.
Musharraf had long maintained that bin Laden and his entourage of bodyguards were in Afghanistan.