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Sunday Mail May 5, 2002


BYLINE: Steve Mckenzie Exclusive

TERROR chief Osama bin Laden is alive and recruiting fresh support in Britain.

Scottish-based intelligence experts studying al-Qaeda internet sites have 
recorded a dramatic rise in traffic in recent days.

And yesterday, they insisted orders found on the websites almost certainly 
mean bin Laden has survived. Dr Rohan Gunaratna, a world authority on 
Islamic terrorism, based at St Andrews University, said: "You simply would 
not see these kinds of messages if bin Laden was dead. They give strategic 
direction to his supporters. Only bin Laden can give this kind of direction."

Dr Gunaratna is convinced bin Laden is in hiding somewhere in Afghanistan 
or Pakistan. He rejected suggestions bin Laden died in US raids in 
Afghanistan, adding: "He is a survivor."

One statement apparently issued by the terror group posted briefly on a 
website linked to al-Qaeda simply read: "Osama bin Laden is alive."

Dr Gunaratna said: "There are four or five websites that are giving 
information about Osama, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The information is up-to 
-date and if bin Laden was dead you would not see this.

"It has his signature all over it.

Dr Gunaratna said the websites are targeted at potential sympathisers 
across the world - including "London, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham and 
Luton. Places where the migrant communities are".

An analyst asked by the Sunday Mail to interpret the sites said: "From what 
we can gather, the people listed are significant followers, or 
sympathisers, of al-Qaeda.

One site asks followers to go to Palestine and fight a holy war or Jihad 
against Israel. The message says: "Muslims have no way out but to go to Jihad."

The analyst, who asked not be named for security reasons, said: "The 
information could only come from people who know where the last remnants of 
the Taliban are."

Experts say bin Laden has also inspired fresh attacks.

Earlier this month, 11 German tourists were killed in a bombing at a 
Tunisian synagogue and Islamic militants are suspected of being behind a 
grenade attack on a church in Pakistan which killed five.

In the US, senior officials fear bin Laden's ominous silence is a strategy.

One top analyst told the Washington Post: "The impact would be all the 
greater when he waits."

John Pike, of US think tank Global Security, said: "Bin Laden must be 
presumed alive until proven dead."
Copyright 2002 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.

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