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Bin Laden 'wounded' in attack

Bin Laden is in good health according to an Arabic-language magazine editor.
Bin Laden is in good health according to an Arabic-language magazine editor.  

LONDON (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden is in good health after recovering from a shrapnel wound inflicted in December, according to an Arabic-language magazine editor.

Abdel-Bari-Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi magazine, said on Monday that bin Laden's associates told him the terrorist mastermind was injured in his left shoulder by shrapnel during an attack on his base in the Tora Bora mountains in eastern Afghanistan.

Atwan said he was given no other details on the injuries or events surrounding the assault.

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Captured al Qaeda fighters who fought at Tora Bora said under interrogation that bin Laden was in area during the battle and that he ordered al Qaeda leaders to disperse to separate locations while there.

According to prisoners' statements, bin Laden's left hand was injured in the fighting.

A bin Laden videotaped statement released in late December, after the Tora Bora battle, shows the al Qaeda leader moving his right hand. His left arm never moves and the left hand is never seen in the video.

Asked where bin Laden is hiding, the editor said, "They never indicated where he is. But I guess he is in the border area (between Afghanistan and Pakistan)."

Bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers have been accused of masterminding the September 11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon in Washington.

Bin Laden made a series of defiant videotapes broadcast on television as U.S. warplanes pounded Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda.

But an absence of any recent appearences raised questions over whether he survived the bombing.

Atwan said bin Laden's followers were trying to capitalize on Arab anger at the United States for its support for Israel and its plans to topple Iraq's leadership.

"They said they would attack and take advantage of the political climate in the Arab world at a time when there is a lot of hatred against the United States," Atwan said.

Germany's intelligence network has also concluded that bin Laden was probably in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that he authorized but did not plan the September 11 attacks, Reuters news agency reported. (Full story)

Whatever his role, bin Laden's reputation among followers could be growing in absentia. (Full story)

"I don't think the bin Laden phenomenon is an individual phenomenon. It is a phenomenon about people looking for symbols," says Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland.




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