Two intelligence officials say signs indicate Osama bin Laden i

Saturday, July 27, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Two senior U.S. intelligence officials said Friday that there are growing signs that suggest Osama bin Laden is dead.

The two officials -- one from the FBI, the other from the CIA, both speaking on the condition of anonymity -- stressed that neither knew of any concrete evidence. But they said several indications, some of which they would not discuss, seem to point to the likelihood of bin Laden's death.

The officials disclosed for the first time, for example, that U.S. forces captured members of bin Laden's personal security force. Those members are among the prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Some of the people we know were involved in that security force we know have been captured," the FBI official said. "One could -- as one example -- conclude that if his security was captured, there is a possibility that he has been killed."

Agents have gleaned some information from the members of the security detail, the FBI official said, even though those members, along with most of the prisoners in Cuba, seem to be skilled in counterinterrogation techniques.

None of the security force members is an Afghan.

"Bin Laden didn't really trust the Afghanis," the FBI official said. "When it came to his personal security force, they were all Arabs."

The CIA official said "there is no reason why he couldn't do a videotape by now. It's curious. You would think he would want to demonstrate to us and all the world that he was still in charge."

Both officials said it is remotely possible that bin Laden is trying to cultivate a "mystic" image and possibly appear in a sort of Second Coming after some new attack.

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