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Latest bin Laden footage likely old

By Wire services
Published September 19, 2003

WASHINGTON - After examining video and audio tapes of Osama bin Laden that were broadcast last week, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded the fugitive al-Qaida leader is probably ill or injured and could be incapacitated or dead.

Three administration officials told Knight Ridder Newspapers the videotape, which showed bin Laden hiking in the mountains, could have been made up to two years ago and that an audio track of bin Laden speaking was recorded separately, also some time ago, and overlaid on the video. The only recent recording was a second audio track, recorded by bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahri.

The officials cautioned it's impossible to draw any firm conclusions from the tapes, but they said the new material has strengthened the belief that bin Laden is ailing and that Zawahri might be running al-Qaida or preparing to succeed a weakened bin Laden.

11 Taliban rebels killed in three days of fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. warplanes supporting Afghan ground forces pummeled Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 11 rebels during three days of fighting, the military said Thursday.

The fighting in the mountains of Kandahar and Zabul provinces has been going on since the end of August, and more than 100 suspected Taliban have been killed, U.S. and Afghan officials said. Four American soldiers have died during fighting in recent weeks.

The fighting in Zabul and Kandahar is part of an operation dubbed "Mountain Viper" that has been going on for more than two weeks.

African nations ripe for terrorism, analysts warn

PRETORIA, South Africa - Africa has suffered only 6 percent of the world's terrorist attacks in the past decade, but its mix of unstable governments, Middle East proximity, persistent poverty, radical groups and Western tourists suggest it is likely to become a growing terrorist target and base, African terrorism analysts warn.

"Africa has very favorable conditions for terrorism to develop and spread," said Anneli Botha, a senior researcher at the South African Institute for Security Studies, which launched a two-day meeting on terrorism in Africa Thursday.

While the continent has had few terrorist attacks in the past decade, it has suffered a disproportionate number of casualties, in part because of several high-profile attacks. Al-Qaida-linked terrorists in 1998 blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people. Last November, terrorists believed to be tied to al-Qaida fired a missile at a commercial airliner and simultaneously blew up a beachfront hotel in Mombasa, killing 13 people.

Jurisprudence ...

INDONESIA: Ali Imron, a Muslim radical who testified against his fellow defendants and apologized for his role in the Bali terrorist bombings, was spared the firing squad Thursday and received life in prison.

A five-judge panel ruled Imron's cooperation had to be balanced against the severity of the Oct. 12 nightclub attack on Indonesia's Bali island in which 202 people were killed, most of them foreign tourists.

MOROCCO: Pierre Robert, 31-year-old French convert to Islam, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on Thursday on charges of trying to organize an uprising in this North African nation.

Robert and 33 others on trial were arrested in a crackdown after May 16 suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, that killed 45 people.

OREGON: Two Portland brothers who were among seven people accused of aiding terrorists pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to help al-Qaida during the war in Afghanistan.

In a plea deal, Ahmed Bilal, 25, agreed to a prison term of 10 to 14 years, while his younger brother, Muhammad Bilal, 23, agreed to eight to 14 years. A sentencing date wasn't set.

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