Published October 18, 2010
Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding near each other in relative comfort in northwest Pakistan, a senior NATO official told CNN on Monday.
The two men are believed to be living in homes near one another and are protected by members of Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, and locals, the network reported. Pakistan strongly denies protecting members of the terror network.
"Nobody in Al Qaeda is living in a cave," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.
Bin Laden is believed to have escaped from Afghanistan's Tora Bora region, a Taliban stronghold, during a U.S. bombing raid in 2001 and has moved around Pakistan since.
The official told CNN the Al Qaeda leader is likely to have traveled in recent years throughout the country's rugged tribal region from near the Chinese border to neighboring Afghanistan.
The same official also confirmed to the network that top Taliban leader Mullah Omar has been moving between the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Karachi over the last several months.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview earlier this month that Al Qaeda has been weakened in the past two to three years and predicted that the network's top two leaders eventually would be hunted down.
"It would certainly be significant if we were to find and kill Bin Laden or Zawahiri. We are seeking to do that," he said. "I actually believe that some point in time it will happen."