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Bin Laden\'s Arrest Story Source Identified

InternationalISLAMABAD/BERLIN, February 29 - The \"source\" of a report which made a buzz around the world about the arrest of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, turned out to be a journalist based in the northern city of Peshawar, Pakistani authorities announced Sunday, February29 .

The external Pashto-language service of Iranian state radio reported Saturday, February28 , quoting an \"informed source\" that Bin Laden had been \"captured in a tribal area of Pakistan.\"

The report, which was immediately denied by both Pakistani and U.S. authorities, said the arrest took place \"some time ago\" but gave no further details.

Pakistani officials told Islamonline.net that a brief investigation was launched to know the facts about the report and the sources it quoted.

They later found out that the sources quoted by the Iranian radio was a Peshawar-based Pakistani journalist who works for the English daily The Nation.

The radio interviewed the reporter a day earlier about the situation in the tribal areas following a military operation.

He apparently expressed his opinion that Bin Laden could have been arrested because he detected some VIP movement in his area.

The authorities have concluded that the radio actually misquoted the reporter and made a big story out of it.

The Iranian broadcast said U.S. officials were keeping news of the arrest under wraps and were likely to announce the arrest later in the year in order to boost incumbent President George\'s re-election chances in the November polls.

\"The capture of the Al-Qaeda leader was made some time ago, but Bush is intending to announce it at the time of the American presidential election.\"

It also added that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld\'s visit to Afghanistan during the week was to follow up on Bin Laden\'s arrest.

However, the Pakistani journalist has denied saying anything to that effect.

Almost all international media organizations, including wire services and television channels, around the world picked up the Iranian report.

The impact of the story was so much that not only Pakistan had to immediately deny it but it also prompted the authorities to investigate the authenticity of the Pakistani source who was quoted by the Iranian radio.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri, who was addressing a press conference with his French counterpart on the bilateral issues, was tipped about the report and was asked to immediately deny it.

Even the Pakistan army had to issued a formal denial.

More Confirmations

Nevertheless, the story continued to hit headlines across the globe.

The German Welt Am Sonntag on Sunday quoted unnamed Indian intelligence sources as confirming the Iranian report.

It said that Karl Heinz Kamp, a security expert with the Konrad Adenauer Institute for Political and Social Studies and Research, received confirmations from Indian officials that the Americans had napped Bin Laden several weeks ago.

The German expert was attending a security conference in New Delhi last week.

Meanwhile, the German Fox television network changed its scheduled programs Saturday to broadcast a three-hour special reportage about Bin Laden.

On Sunday, February22 , the British Sunday Express reported that U.S. and British special forces have cornered Bin Laden in a mountainous area in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border.

It quoted a \"U.S. intelligence source\" as saying that Bin Laden \"is boxed in \" and they were \"absolutely confident\" he could not escape.

In his last tape, aired on January5 , Bin Laden warned that Washington would occupy Saudi Arabia and the entire oil-rich Gulf region after Iraq unless stopped.

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