Update: We have this report, that I had forgotten aboutÂ from the hectic pace atÂ work (you really would not want to be me right now.) So I am upgrading this again. From ADN Kronos in July, which matches aproximate timeframe of theÂ Hindustani times article:
Islamabad, 21 July (AKI) – The Pakistani authorities on Thursday ordered the evacuation of a northern area of the country, near the border with China, of tourists and foreigners after receiving intelligence reports of the possible presence of Osama bin Laden in the area. According to Arab daily al-Hayat, the presence of the al-Qaeda leader was reported in the extreme north of Pakistan in an area that borders China and Afghanistan. For this reason hundreds of tourists – most of them European – were made to leave the Chalinji Pass and the Wakhan corridor and the security forces closed all access to the area.
The intelligence reports that had reached Islamabad indicated that bin Laden and his deputy Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri – along with other leading figures of the al-Qaeda terror network – had decided to use the area bordering China as a secure refuge as it is not controlled by the US military.
Al-Hayat says the reports were confirmed by Western embassy sources in Islamabad, who indicated that the choice of sticking near the China border was because US military bombers would not attack that area for fear of hitting China.
UPDATE:Â Â TheÂ page has been taken down atÂ Hindustan times, the link to this page is still up at Counter Terrorism Blog as well. I am going to have to consider this a falseÂ report from HindustanÂ Times, with a strange method of retraction.Â I’m going to have to start getting semi-professional and take screenies of my page links from now on.
Potentially a Bin-Laden sighting from India, this could be more credible than some past false sightings just due to the pressure being exerted both sides of the Kashmir and in Afghanistan on Terror groups right now. There are also a couple of Special Task forces in the area from the US, and they have disappeared from the map and the news. Letâ€™s hope they are up to something real good.
From the Hindustani Times, note the source, I’m not sure how credible this paper is:
Has Osama bin Laden been sighted? A report with the Government of India says Al-Qaedaâ€™s top leadership was recently spotted near Darkot, a Pakistani village near the border with Afghanistanâ€™s Wakhan corridor. Sources say the report was made less than a fortnight ago. Till now, Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri were thought to be in the rugged mountains of Pakistan, along Afghanistanâ€™s southeast border.
Update: itâ€™s not very likely that Bin Laden would be on the Afghan side of the border, that part of the Wakhan is tightly controlled by the Northern Alliance, and the warlords â€“ unless heâ€™s paying a lot of gelt. Heâ€™s still not well liked there even if he is paying them off, so much more likely to be on the Pakistan side if this is true.
If you are wondering about all the hedging here, go to google and examine theÂ terrain yourself, note that white snowÂ designates higher ground to get the right perspective except for the glaciers. This is aÂ glacial cirque, and the village sits atop the moraine, which pretty much puts it at the end of a cul-de-sac.Â While it’s probably damnedÂ hard to get at the location from any direction other than the roadÂ end, there’sÂ not much in the way of escape paths. Bin Laden would not be here unless he’s grown way overconfident, or he’s readying for a last stand.Â
Update 2: After more research, it appears that there are two ways in and out, and apparently this routes been used by military forces in the past. Continuing stories like this coming out of Pakistan of arrests of Al Qaeda members are making the move east into Kashmir more plausible.
Hereâ€™s a plot thatÂ works if you are trying to locate Darkot, Pakistan. Here’s a pic from Google earth of Darkot, note that it’s in the Pakistani controlled Kashmir, about 105 miles from Chitral Airport, and 60 or so from the city of Gilgit and that airport as a crow flies.