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NYT: US Steps up Hunt for Bin Laden - 2004-02-29


The New York Times reports President Bush has approved plans to intensify efforts to capture or kill fugitive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

In an article to be published Sunday, the newspaper quotes senior Bush administration and military officials as saying the plan involves new forces to take advantage of better intelligence and improving weather in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The New York Times says the commando team Task Force 121, which is made of Special Operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency officers, is shifting its focus to bin Laden after its involvement in capturing ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Officials say the force plans to use lessons learned in Iraq and focus on bin Laden's support network.

Meanwhile the U.S. Defense Department and Pakistani officials have denied an Iranian report that Osama bin Laden was captured some time ago. Iran's state radio Pashtun language service claimed the arrest was not publicized because U.S. officials planned to use it to aid President Bush's re-election campaign.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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