ISLAMABAD, Pakistan # Detained al Qaeda chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has given conflicting information about Osama bin Laden, CNN has learned.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, told CNN that before he was handed to U.S. authorities the self-confessed head of al Qaeda’s military committee said in separate interrogations that bin Laden was alive and that he was dead.
Major General Rashid Qureshi said he spoke with the chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, who was present during the interview with Mohammed before he was handed over to U.S. officials.
During the interview, Mohammed gave statements that bin Laden was alive and, later, he said the al Qaeda chief was dead, Qureshi said.
Qureshi denied reports that Mohammed said bin Laden was living in Pakistan.
U.S. officials acknowledge to CNN that they believe they may be getting closer to finding bin Laden, though they deny a newspaper report that the U.S. has narrowed his location down to one Pakistani province near the Iranian border.
Officials say they have recent intelligence showing bin Laden is alive, and that their best estimate remains that he is either in the Afghan-Pakistani border area, or in a nearby Pakistani city.
Mohammed, believed to have been a key planner of the September 11 terrorist attacks, was being interrogated with “all appropriate pressure” at an undisclosed location outside of the United States, and outside of Pakistan, where he was captured Saturday, U.S. officials have told CNN.
Mohammed is suspected of masterminding the September 11 attacks and his name has been linked to al Qaeda atrocities in Asia, Africa and Europe. (Life of terror)
The FBI has warned that Mohammed’s capture could spark terror attacks already being planned but they also believe his arrest deals a long-term blow to al Qaeda’s planning capabilities. (Full story)
A CIA spokesman has told CNN: “Hopefully we are getting closer to bin Laden.”
But asked about a report that the U.S. believes it has narrowed down the location of Osama bin Laden to one Pakistani province near the border with Iran, the official added “we have not narrowed it down by that much.”