Bin Laden Short on Hiding Spots: Officials

Pakistan offensive, troops in Afghanistan, drone attacks cut space
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 5, 2009 9:58 AM CDT
This is an undated file photo of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Osama bin Laden has fewer and fewer places to hide these days, officials tell NPR. And “the administration smells blood,” says a former counterterror official who cites three reasons for the shrinking space: Pakistan’s Swat Valley offensive against the Taliban, "along with US activities from the Afghan side," could be putting “pressure” on al-Qaeda; 21,000 new US troops have entered Afghanistan; and there's been an increase in drone attacks.

US officials say the Predator attacks have killed 11 out of 20 on the Afghan border most-wanted list. “This is the most pressure they've been under since they left Afghanistan” in 2001, notes another counterterrorism official. Still, messages released by bin Laden and his top deputy show no sign “that these are individuals who think time is running out for them,” says a longtime intelligence officer. “They're still in the fight.”