Bin Laden: ‘The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated’

PARIS, France- The elusive and very tall Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is being reported by some media outlets as dead, and CNN is reporting he has Typhoid, a water-borne illness, according to their Saudi intelligence sources.

CNN refutes a report in a French newspaper that the man who has been hunted by the United States for the past five years is dead.

The Saudi intelligence source told CNN’s journalist Nic Robertson that there have been credible reports for the past several weeks that bin Laden is ill, but no word of his actual death.

The death word came by way of the published report in the French regional newspaper L’Est Republicain on Saturday.

The article cited a French foreign intelligence document dated September 21 in which a source said the Saudis had received confirmation that bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan on August 23rd.

French President Jacques Chirac said he would investigate the leak of the confidential documents, and said that the information in them has been in no way confirmed.

“I was rather surprised to see that a confidential note from the DGSE (General Directorate for External Security) was published and I have asked the minister of defense to start an investigation immediately and to reach whatever conclusions are necessary,” Chirac said.

“Secondly, speaking of the source of the information itself, this information is in no way confirmed.”

U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday: “We have no confirmation of that report.”

Laid Sammari, the journalist who wrote the article, told CNN in a telephone interview he was confident of the authenticity of the confidential document cited in his report.

He said the only thing the Saudis were trying to confirm was the burial place of the al Qaeda leader, before making an official announcement.

Pakistani officials also said Saturday they had no information that confirmed bin Laden’s death. Friday, U.S. President George Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in a joint news conference that the hunt is still on for the leaders of al Qaeda.

CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen is skeptical of the suggestion that bin Laden might be dead, saying it was not something the Islamist Web sites would keep quiet about.

He also noted that rumors of the al Qaeda leader’s demise were heavily rumored when he was thought to have failing kidneys and need dialysis.

CNN is trying to confirm the reports with Saudi officials in Washington, D.C., and in Saudi Arabia.

The last message verified by Bin Laden is June 30th. The CIA confirmed the voice giving the message was that of the al Qaeda leader.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.