Pakistani doctor admits treating Osama bin Laden

Thursday, November 28, 2002

LAHORE, Pakistan -- A prominent Pakistani doctor who admitted treating Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders before and after Sept. 11 said Wednesday that the terrorist mastermind was in excellent health and showed no signs of kidney failure.

Dr. Amer Aziz, recently released after being held incommunicado and interrogated for a month by FBI and CIA agents, told The Associated Press he knew nothing of al-Qaida's plans. He rejected allegations he helped the organization in its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking at his clinic in Lahore, Aziz said he met bin Laden twice -- in 1999 after the al-Qaida leader hurt his back falling off a horse in southern Afghanistan, and in November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks, when Aziz was summoned to treat another senior al-Qaida leader, Mohammed Atef, in Kabul.

Bin Laden was in strong health on both occasions, said Aziz, a British-educated orthopedic surgeon. He said he saw no evidence that the al-Qaida leader had kidney disease, as has been widely reported, or that he was on dialysis.

"He was walking. He was healthy. He just told me to give good treatment to his man (Atef), that he was a very important man," Aziz said of the November meeting, in which al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was also present.

Reports of bin Laden's poor health -- and his deteriorating appearance in video tapes released shortly after U.S. bombing began in Afghanistan in October 2001 -- fueled speculation that he might have died. Intelligence officials now say an audiotape released last month was recorded recently and was the voice of the al-Qaida leader.

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