Spotted in Kashmir?
Rumors that bin Laden has been spotted in Kashmir:
The latest rumour emerged via India's Star Television, which has been carrying a report saying a 10-car convoy believed to be carrying bin Laden was spotted in eastern Pakistan by an Indian reconnaissance plane.
It sourced the information to intelligence analyst and former US Justice Department Prosecutor John Loftus, who was speaking on Star's sister channel America's Fox News.
Loftus said India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, had tipped off the FBI after the pilot of the surveillance aircraft reported the convoy.
The chances of an Indian pilot flying over the territory of arch-foe and neighbour Pakistan are slim. But the rumour has nevertheless gained traction.
Additional surveillance aircraft were called in and identified the al Qaeda leader on the move with a 10-vehicle convoy of black Japanese minivans, it said. Four of the vehicles turned up again on Oct. 22 heading east towards the China border.
The report echoed a similar claim made by Pakistani Urdu-language newspaper Khabrain last month, suggesting bin Laden could have taken refuge in northern Kashmir, in the barren mountains straddling the India-Pakistan-China frontier.
Indian officials have not commented and Indian defence analysts voiced doubts about the veracity of such reports.
Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan scoffed at the suggestion, which he termed media speculation. "There's nothing to my knowledge on this -- it sounds absurd."
Diplomats say no evidence exists to suggest bin Laden's capture is imminent -- or that he is anywhere other than Afghanistan or the lawless tribal areas inside the Pakistani border -- despite a report in the latest edition of Newsweek that US intelligence agents recently thought they were on the verge of a breakthrough.
"It looked like we were really close, maybe one or two people away," it quoted one official as saying. "There was a lot of optimism around here."