Friend and Ally Update. By Rowan Scarborough in The Examiner (thanks to James):
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has surrounded himself in a protective network of Islamic supporters in the vast tribal areas of western Pakistan, complicating the hunt for America's most wanted criminal, U.S. intelligence officials say.
The United States has firm evidence bin Laden is alive based on interrogations of captured al Qaeda members and intercepted communications in which known terrorists talk about him, a military intelligence source told The Examiner.
"We get a lot of chatter one or two levels of management below bin Laden that refers to him as 'the Sheik,' 'the esteemed leader,'" said the source, who asked not to be named because he is discussing sensitive intelligence. "We believe him to be alive based on some of the people we have captured who have said that."
The source said the United States has picked up no credible information that bin Laden is dead....
P.J. Crowley, a military analyst at the Center for American Progress and a former national security aide to President Clinton, said the Iraq war has diverted assets that could be used to find bin Laden.
"Now that he is in the tribal areas, I doubt that a bounty of any number will be helpful," Crowley said "Given tribal relationships, they will protect him."