Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- There was controversy and a wave of international speculations about a report on the death of Al-Qaeda organization leader Osama Bin Laden after a French newspaper quoted a leaked report by the French intelligence authorities as saying that Saudi Arabia is convinced that Bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan last month.
However, in a statement to Asharq al-Awsat, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki denied any knowledge of these reports.
On the other hand, a Saudi source who closely follows up on the Al-Qaeda organization’s activities cast doubt on the reports.
The French daily L’Est Republicain carried a report on a document, which it said leaked from the French intelligence agency. The report said Saudi Arabia is convinced that Bin Laden died after he was infected with typhoid.
All major US networks showed interest in the news. Also, all serious news websites carried and analyzed the report.
Speaking to CNN by telephone, the author of the report said he is confident that the secret document is genuine. He added that the only thing, which the Saudi authorities seek to verify, is the place where Bin Laden was buried before making an official announcement.
For their part, Pakistani officials too said they have no information confirming that these reports are true.
In the same context, a US CIA official said Washington has no evidence to confirm the French newspaper’s report. Also, the US State Department announced yesterday that it could not confirm the report.
French President Jacques Chirac on Saturday confirmed the DGSE memo was genuine, stating he was “surprised” it had been made public and ordering an investigation into its leak.
But he stressed that the information it gave was “in no way confirmed.”
Other countries closely involved in the hunt for bin Laden quickly stepped forward to emphasize the same thing.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said of the reports on the DGSE document: “No comment, and no knowledge.”
Bin Laden has several times been rumored to have died in the past, only to appear later in audio or video recordings.
The last verified message from bin Laden was posted on the Internet on July 1, accusing Iraqi Shiites of waging “genocide” against Sunnis. A US official said the message was deemed authentic.
The last time images of him were seen was in October 2004, in a videotape delivered to the Arab television network Al Jazeera.