DUBAI (Reuters) - An anti-U.S. Afghan rebel leader said he had information that Osama bin Laden is alive but keeping a low profile by not issuing statements, according to a video aired on Sunday.
The al Qaeda leader’s long silence has fuelled speculation that the world’s most-wanted fugitive may have died.
“Based on information I have, I believe Osama is alive,” said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose forces operate in southeastern Afghanistan near Pakistan, in the undated video broadcast on Al Arabiya television. His remarks were dubbed into Arabic.
“I also believe that it is good that he ... does not appear in the media, and that it is wise that no statements or tapes are issued even after a long while,” said Hekmatyar, without elaborating.
Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister, is on a U.S. wanted list and leads an insurgency separate from the Taliban Islamist movement against the Afghan government and foreign troops under the command of NATO and the U.S. military.
In January, Hekmatyar said fighters loyal to his group had helped bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri escape a massive U.S.-led hunt in eastern Afghanistan in late 2001.
The most recent video of bin Laden was released in late 2004, and the last audio recording surfaced in mid-2006.
Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in remote mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.