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Pressure 'keeping bin Laden quiet'

Communications network paralyzed, says Pakistan


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(CNN) -- The capability of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to make "international mischief" has been vastly reduced by the constant pressure from Pakistan's military operations along the border with Afghanistan, according to Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.

He told CNN on Friday it was assumed bin Laden and a small band were having to keep moving in the tribal areas along the border to avoid their pursuers.

In a television interview from Sydney, Kasuri said that the communications network for bin Laden's group, along with its horizontal and vertical links, had been paralyzed by the ongoing military operations.

Kasuri also said it was clear that the capture on May 2 of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the man believed to be al Qaeda's No. 3 leader in the area, was a very successful operation.

He said that was a view shared both by Pakistan and the United States, noting Bush had sent his congratulations to Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

On May 4, Bush hailed the arrest of al-Libbi, a Libyan blamed for masterminding two assassination attempts against Musharraf, as a "critical victory in the war on terror."

Bush said "al-Libbi was a top general for bin Laden. He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat for America."

Intelligence officials said al-Libbi was engaged last year in coded communication with al Qaeda operatives in both the United States and Britain.

Kasuri, who was in Australia on Thursday and Friday for talks with Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, said Musharraf would visit Australia from June 13-16, when he would formalize an agreement between the two countries on counter-terrorism cooperation.

Under the Howard government, Australia -- like Pakistan -- has been a close ally of the United States in its war on terror.

Washington has been pursuing bin Laden and al Qaeda members since they launched their global war on terror after the September 11 attacks on America.


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