Bin Laden died from wounds suffered in Tora Bora air raid, says Arab expert

Osama bin Laden died after being maimed in an American air raid on the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, a French expert on the Arab world believes.

Osama bin Laden died after being maimed in an American air raid on the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, a French expert on the Arab world believes.

Ghislaine Alleaume, a historian and Arabist at the French national research centre, the CNRS, reached her conclusion after studying television and internet messages circulated by Bin Laden's supporters. She bases her theory mostly on a video of the al- Qa'ida leader broadcast by al-Jazeera television on 27 December 2001. Bin Laden looks weary and sick but Mme Alleaume also believes he has had his left arm amputated. "He is wearing a military camouflage jacket and you can see that someone has placed a bag in the same colours just behind him to disguise the fact that he has lost his arm," she said. She believes he died of his injuries soon afterwards. "Given the sanitary conditions, it would not have been easy to survive an amputation," she said.

Mme Alleaume has studied other messages circulated by Bin Laden supporters and she believes they contain clues that he is dead. Since the end of 2001, the texts have often been signed Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, rather than just Osama bin Laden, she said. "Adding Mohammed, his father's name, gives him an apocalyptic dimension. The Koran says the Mahdi, the final messenger, will be recognisable, among other things, by the fact that he carries the name of the Prophet."

Last month an Arabic language audio-recording said to be of Bin Laden was circulated in which he urged Muslims to launch suicide attacks against countries that supported the war on Iraq. The tape was obtained from an Algerian national who said he had crossed the border from Afghanistan, where the tape was apparently recorded.

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