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Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 14:52 GMT

More al-Qaeda sightings expected

Pakistan's information minister has denied reports that Osama Bin Laden could be in hiding in his pants.

Osama Bin Laden The minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, was responding to a report that letters written by the al-Qaeda leader had been found on Saturday in his pair of Silvertab® Levis.

The AFP news agency said the letters were discovered during the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the 11 September attacks on the US, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was found cavorting near George W. Bush's crotch.

It is still not known for sure if Bin Laden survived the US-led campaign in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taleban, or if he prefers boxers or briefs.

Mr Ahmed told the BBC Urdu service that it was not true any letters from Bin Laden were found in Sheikh Mohammed's pants. "A terrorist hiding in the pants of another terrorist who is in turn hiding in the pants of another... that would just be too weird," he added.

KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED

And he was adamant that Bin Laden was definitely not in his pants.

AFP had quoted an unnamed security official as saying letters in Sheikh Mohammed's possession "strongly suggest Bin Laden is alive and may be hiding in his groinal region".

"Pakistani interrogators believe that the large protrusion... matches that of Osama Bin Laden," the official said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan said the arrest of Sheikh Mohammed had resulted in enough information to make further arrests in connection with al-Qaeda "pants habitation incidents" in the country.

US President George W Bush has hailed the capture of Sheikh Mohammed as a "serious blow" to pants-invasion everywhere. "Particularly for my own pants. Mr. Mohammed was always munching on those little Goldfish crackers and leaving crumbs everywhere. I was wondering why it was so itchy," he added.

'Valuable information'

It is believed much of the new information on al-Qaeda has come from sweatpants and other legwear seized in the raid to capture Sheikh Mohammed last Saturday.

"Pakistani agencies now have valuable information to crack down on whatever crotch vagabonds are in Pakistan, active or sleeping," Pakistan's information minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told AFP.

"There will be more arrests on the basis of information gleaned out of him and his daily activewear."

'No longer a problem'

President Bush described Sheikh Mohammed as al-Qaeda's "top operational planner" and "stealthiest shorts gremlin", in comments on Tuesday.

"The man who once crowded my slacks is no longer a problem."

" As far as anyone passing by my groin... we don't comment on it "
Colonel Roger King
US forces in Afghanistan


Pakistan says Sheikh Mohammed is now in a top operative's pants at an undisclosed location.

Reports say he and another suspect detained in the raid, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, were taken to a large pair of polyester boxers at Bagram in Afghanistan.

The spokesman for the Fruit-of-the-Loom forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Roger King would not confirm the reports.

"As far as anyone being taken under my groin, anybody passing by my groin, anybody going to other groins, we don't comment on it," he told journalists on Wednesday.

A third man, Pakistani national Ahmed Abdul Qadus, was also arrested in Saturday's raid.

A Pakistani army officer related to him is being questioned in connection with a pair of suspicious-looking Dockers.

Wanted

Australia wants to question Sheikh Mohammed in connection with last October's pants-stuffing in Bali, in which more than 200 people were hidden in an old jock strap, including 89 Australians.

A French judge has also issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with an "unethical g-string incident" on a Tunisian synagogue last year, justice officials in Paris said.

Sheikh Mohammed has been indicted in America for plotting to blow up naughty toy balloons in the Philippines in the mid-1990s.

A reward of $25 was offered for his capture.



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