Osama bin Laden is alive and hiding in Pakistan, said CIA chief Michael Hayden today, though the terrorism leader has little oversight of the al Qaeda daily operations.
“American and its friends have taken the fight to the enemy,” Gen. Hayden said in a broad roundup of efforts to fight al Qaeda.
“Al Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks, but it is a determined, adaptive enemy unlike any our nation has ever faced,” he said.
Without directly referring to the CIA’s offensive blitz of unmanned missile attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the CIA boss said the US had successfully isolated the al Qaeda leader bin Laden, referring to him in the present tense.
“He appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he leads,” Hayden said in a speech delivered to the Atlantic Council in Washington.
Hayden said the failure to kill or capture bin Laden in the seven years since the 9/11 attacks, could be explained by the “rugged and inaccessible” terrain of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area and “the fact that bin Laden has worked to avoid detection.”
The CIA director provided no other details but it was the first public indication of the intelligence agency’s growing effort to narrow the focus of the search for bin Laden and other top terror leaders.