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COLUMN SIXTY-SEVEN, JANUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)

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STILL MORE ABOUT BIN LADEN AND THE CIA 

Subject: Bin Laden & the CIA
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 10:31:42 -0500
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www.washtimes.com

Report: bin Laden treated at US hospital  

Elizabeth Bryant
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Published 10/31/2001

PARIS, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A CIA agent allegedly met with suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in July, while the Saudi underwent treatment for kidney problems at an American hospital in Dubai, France's Le Figaro newspaper reported Wednesday.

Bin Laden reportedly checked into the American Hospital Dubai, a 100-bed, acute-care general hospital, July 4 and stayed until July 14. He arrived from Quetta, Pakistan, accompanied by his personal doctor and a close aide---possibly Ayman el Zawahiri, a leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad, now bin Laden's right hand man, the newspaper said.

. Le Figaro cited a "professional partner" linked to the hospital's management as its source.

Besides a stream of local dignitaries and family members, bin Laden's visitors included a local CIA agent, the newspaper reported. The agent was widely recognized locally, Le Figaro said, and later told several friends of the meeting.

The alleged American spy was called back to the CIA's McLean, Va., headquarters July 15---a day after bin Laden checked out, Le Figaro reported, citing "authorized sources."

Why bin Laden would have met with a CIA officer---or vice versa---is unclear. Even before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the Saudi millionaire figured among America's top terrorist suspects, blamed for several earlier plots against U.S. targets, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

But the French newspaper asserted CIA-bin Laden links stretched back years, and appeared to suggest bin Laden gave the agency information regarding future terrorist strikes.

"The Dubai meeting is therefore a logical follow to a "certain American policy," the newspaper said.

In particular, the newspaper noted that just two weeks after bin Laden checked out of the Dubai hospital, United Arab Emirates security agents arrested the alleged mastermind of a plot to blow up the American Embassy in Paris. The suspect, a French-Algerian named Djamel Beghal, earlier confessed to receiving his orders from bin Laden, according to French news media citing his written confession.

An American diplomat in Paris refused to comment on the Figaro article, or on reported allegations of an emergency meeting in Paris in August, between high level French and American intelligence officials.

"We're just not comment any of that stuff," he said. "We can't talk about meetings like that may or may not have happen."

Le Figaro said bin Laden had serious kidney problems, and reportedly had a dialysis machine imported to Afghanistan last year. Citing a March 2000 report by Asia Week, the newspaper said bin Laden's illness stemmed from "a renal infection that has spread to the liver, and needs specialized treatment."

The head of the Dubai hospital's urology department, Terry Callaway, reportedly refused to answer questions about bin Laden's alleged stay. Radio France reported Wednesday the American hospital has denied bin Laden was treated there. 

Copyright 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.


* * *  

Radio reports new CIA-Bin Laden details
The Washington Times
www.washtimes.com

Radio reports new CIA-Bin Laden details

Elizabeth Bryant

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Published 11/1/2001

PARIS, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Radio France International offered additional details Thursday of allegations that terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden met with a CIA officer in the United Arab Emirates in July.      

The CIA has dismissed as "total absurdity" a report carried Wednesday by Radio France and by France's Le Figaro newspaper, alleging that a CIA agent met with bin Laden at a Dubai clinic, where the suspected terrorist was reportedly  treated for kidney problems.

The clinic, said to be the American Hospital in Dubai, also denied bin Laden had been a patient. The American Embassy in Paris has not commented on the report.

The Paris-based International Herald Tribune suggested the erroneous information may have been leaked by opponents in France to the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.

"Disinformation may have been planted ... to suggest a continuing covert linkage between the CIA and bin Laden," a French intelligence source told the Herald Tribune.

Nonetheless, Radio France International, for one, said it stood by its report. In a follow-up Thursday, the French radio station identified the alleged CIA agent as Larry Mitchell, "a connoisseur of the Arab world and specialist of the (Arab) peninsula."

Mitchell's business card identified him as a "consular agent," the radio said. In fact, RFI alleged, he was a CIA agent and a prominent fixture in Dubai's expatriate community. According to both the radio and Le Figaro, Mitchell was recalled to the CIA's headquarters in McLean, Va., on July 15.

The radio also gave the precise date of Mitchell's supposed encounter with bin Laden---July 12, two days before the Saudi dissident reportedly checked out of the hospital.

Neither the Figaro, nor Radio France offered independent confirmation of the report. The radio station also cited no source for its latest allegations. Earlier, the Figaro said its story was leaked by a partner of the hospital's management.

In an interview published Thursday in Le Figaro, Arab specialist Antoine Sfeir said he was not surprised on the alleged CIA-bin Laden ties.

"Bin Laden maintained contacts with bin Laden until 1998," Sfeir said. "Those contacts didn't end after bin Laden moved to Afghanistan. Until the last minute, CIA agents hoped bin Laden would return to U.S. command, as was the case before 1998."

Sfeir also maintained the information about the CIA-bin Laden connection had been in circulation for the past 15 days.  

Copyright 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.  ##

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