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Bin Laden remains elusive

Kandahar airport
U.S. Marines secure the Kandahar International Airport on Friday.  


The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain as elusive as a consensus on the status of war in Afghanistan. Eastern Alliance commanders say their war against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters is effectively over. But Gen. Tommy Franks, chief of U.S. Central Command, called the situation in the region "confused," and said al Qaeda fighters still pose a threat.


The former U.S. Embassy in Kabul opened Monday, the first time it has been in operation in 12 years. The former embassy initially will serve as a "liaison office" between the United States and the interim Afghan government, which is set to take office on December 22. (Full story)

Franks told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday "we're not sure" whether a voice heard on recent radio transmissions in Afghanistan belongs to bin Laden. Saturday, a U.S. official said he was "reasonably certain" bin Laden's voice had been picked up on battlefield radios.

Answering U.S. troops' question on when they might go home, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tied the war's end to the capture of key enemy leaders. "There's no way to know how long it is going to take to find (Mullah) Omar and to find Osama bin Laden and find the senior al Qaeda leadership and to see that they are punished," Rumsfeld said Sunday.

The Observer, a British newspaper, reported Sunday that "terrorists linked to bin Laden have drawn up plans for a devastating bomb attack" on London's financial district. The report is based on the discovery of an 80-page document in Kandahar containing step-by-step instructions for the attack.

  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

Attack on America
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In-Depth: America Remembers
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On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk


Who are the Northern Alliance and other key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there?

Now that the last Taliban stronghold has fallen, will its fleeing members still pose a threat?

Where is Mullah Mohammed Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of permanent government will next rule Afghanistan?

How will a multinational peacekeeping force be received in war-weary Afghanistan?

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last?

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success?


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks.

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser.

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command.

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense.

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law.

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban.

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister.

George Tenet: CIA director


The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.


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