The (Australian) ABC is publishing a Reuters story quoting a report in L’Est Republicain that the DGSE (the French intelligence agency) has briefed the French President and PM of Saudi Arabias belief that Bin Laden died of typhoid in August.
“The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of Al Qaeda was a victim while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, of a very serious case of typhoid, which led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs,” the document said.
The original article is in French, and the Google translation of the full paragraph says:
“According to a usually reliable source, the Saoudi services from now on would have acquired the conviction that Usama Bin Laden died. The elements collected by the Saoudis indicate that the chief of Al-Qaïda would have been victim, whereas it was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, of a very strong crisis of typhoid having involved a paralysis partial of his lower limbs. Its geographical insulation, caused by a permanent escape, would have made impossible any medical care. On September 4, 2006, the Saoudi services of safety collected the first information making state of its death. They would wait, to obtain more details, and in particular the exact place of its burial, to announce the news officially”.
If it is true (and remember this is a report of a report of a report of a suspicion) then whilst being a significant moment it is unlikely to materially change the situation anywhere in the world. These groups tend to operate as lots of independent small cells with no central leadership, infrastructure or coordination and so whilst this might mean something philosophically to them it is unlikely to cause them any operational problems. 🙁
Read more via Google News.
Update: The ABC is reporting that the Saudi’s are denying the basis of the French DGSE report, saying:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead,” the Saudi Embassy in the US said.