Osama Bin Laden Spinal injury? Zawahiri in-charge?

UPDATE: Al Arabiya TV is also reporting that Bin Laden lives and is in good health, there aren’t references to possible spinal problems or paralysis in the report.

UPDATE II 9/26  Also from Peshawar, The News:

PESHAWAR: Top Taliban military commander Mulla Dadullah Akhund has claimed that al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was alive.

Talking to The News from an undisclosed location, he said there was no truth in reports that bin Laden died from typhoid in Pakistan in August. “Shaikh Osama is alright. He is safe, Dadullah maintained. There was no way to verify Dadullah’s claim.

In the past also, Dadullah issued statements to the effect that bin Laden and Taliban leader Mulla Muhammad Omar were alive and leading the resistance against US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.

When pressed for evidence to show that bin Laden was alive, Dadullah hinted that there was a possibility of a tape being sent to media organizations to prove that the al-Qaeda head was not dead. However, he declined to say as to when such a tape would be made available.

The Frontier Post has a new article regarding Bin Laden, which might relate to the prior reports of his death. In this version, he has spinal problems — earlier stories regarding his death, since disavowed by intel services reported that he had paralysis of the legs. The article quotes unamed sources as saying that he has placed Al Zawahiri and his sons in charge of Al Qaeda operations. Bolding below is mine.

From the Frontier Post:

Aqeel Yousufzai PESHAWAR: Osama bin Laden, the elusive al-Qaeda chief, is suffering from a serious backbone problem, a well-placed sources told The Frontier Post on Sunday. However, the source rejected as groundless a media report regarding the death of the world’s most wanted fugitive of typhoid in a Pakistani hospital. Because of the severe spinal-chord ailment, the Sheikh (Osama bin Laden) has assigned al-Qaeda command to his trusted lieutenant Dr Aiman Al-Zawahri and his son Mohammad, revealed the source. He described the French newspaper report on Osama’s death as propaganda of the dissident Saudi billionaire’s enemies. Osama is very much alive and kicking, he insisted. What’s new about Osama bin Laden is that he has been suffering from an acute backbone pain over the last few months, forcing him out of direct al-Qaeda command. As a result, the Sheikh has delegated his powers to his trusted friend Dr Aiman al-Zawahri and his son Sheikh Mohammad. As of now, Zawahri is also assisted by his son-in-law Abu al-Qama and son Hamza in running al-Qaeda affairs. Speaking to The Frontier Post from an undisclosed location over the telephone, the former mujahid observed. “Al-Qaeda has long become an organised movement in many parts of the world, pursuing an ideology.” He added the dreaded outfit was not a by-word for an individual or a personality, and that it would not perish with the passing of one leader. Shiekh Osama will have to die one day but his ideology will continue to inspire generations to come. We have thousands of Osamas in our ranks and every Muslim youth with al-Qaeda could grow into an Osama in future, the man continued. The al-Qaeda has set up a new shura commanded by Dr Zawahri and composed of 11 senior leaders from different countries. All the shura members are reportedly committed to the ideals of the Saudi dissident. A formal statement or videotape proving that OBL is a live to the effect will be released to the media in a few days. It’ll will also belie the report of the French newspaper, he maintained. According to Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghan President Hamid Karzai termed the report of the French newspaper sheer speculation. However, he hastened to add it would be good news if it turned out to be true….

……The note by the DGSE, dated September 21 and published Saturday by l’Est Republicain, stated that Saudi intelligence officials are now convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead. It said information gathered by the Saudis from a source they considered reliable indicates that bin Laden might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006. His geographic isolation provoked by constant fleeing is believed to have made medical assistance impossible (and) on September 4, 2006, the Saudi security services received preliminary information of his death. It said the Saudis were waiting to obtain further details and notably the exact place of burial before officially announcing the news. The DGSE refused to confirm the report, which L’Est Republicain said had been sent on Thursday to Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, and no immediate official reaction was forthcoming from Saudi officials.

This might be more believable, the Frontier Post in the past has printed favorable stories on Bin Laden. This also could signal that there has been a coup within Al Qaeda, and that Al Zawahiri has forcibly taken control (Pure speculation on my part.) If you have noted the past few weeks there have been a lot of Al Qaeda leaders captured, and there are many changes going on, it could all be related.

Visit CT blog, scroll down the right side-bar newstories tonight, there are quite a few. Regardless of whether this rumor is true or false, something has shaken and stirred Al-Qaida. (BTW: Kudos to the folks at CT, they really do a great job at picking out the significant stories.)

More intel, and speculation on Al Qaeda movements in this article at CBS.

We also have a follow up to the earlier report, apparently the original cable came from an embassy party in Pakistan, where French personnell overheard the rumor from Saudi Chief of Mission, Abdullah Zahani, and thereafter cabled it in. Full story at the Blotter.

One of the paid mystery middlemen reportedly told the Saudis that he had heard from an Arab in Pakistan that “al Qaeda’s Arabs are now leaving Pakistan in throngs because Bin Laden died of typhoid”.

Pakistani intelligence sources say few, if any, of the Saudi sources “are of any value” and that “the Saudis repeatedly get conned by these individuals who claim to have exclusive information.”Pakistani intelligence sources say they have been receiving reports for the past 12 months that some al Qaeda militants are leaving Pakistan for Sudan, Yemen and now Somalia, but certainly not on the scale suggested by the “middleman”.

My previous articles on Bin Laden here.