KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The trail for Osama bin Laden went cold nearly one year ago. There were reports that he was at Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan last December, but after that there was nothing.
Taliban in hiding say he is alive and that he will show himself after the next big attack -- one they say will dwarf the Sept. 11 tragedy.
But Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he believes bin Laden is dead, citing the al-Qaida leader's reported health problems.
U.S. officials and their coalition partners have said they just don't know what happened to the man believed behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
On Tuesday, an Arab TV station broadcast an audiotape of a voice that U.S. counterterrorism officials in Washington said is probably authentic.
At the White House, President Bush said Wednesday he's taking the tape "very seriously," but he'll leave it to the experts to decide whether the voice is bin Laden's. A U.S. official familiar with the tape said investigators are treating it as new evidence that the terrorist leader is alive.
The speaker, identified by al-Jazeera television as bin Laden, praised the October terrorist strikes in Bali and Moscow, and warned U.S. allies to back away from plans to attack Iraq.
In Afghanistan, most officials say bin laden is hiding in Pakistan's tribal border regions, accessible by hundreds of foot paths that weave and wind their way through the rugged peaks that run like a spine along the border.
"I'm not sure where he is. But in my thinking, he has more support in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan," Noorullah Uloomi said Wednesday.
The militant groups in Pakistan, like Harakat-ul Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Moohammed, both were frequent visitors to Afghanistan and to al-Qaida camps during the Taliban rule.
Before the tape was released, Taliban officials interviewed at secret locations in Pakistan told The Associated Press that bin Laden was alive. One such Taliban, Obeidullah, assistant to the Taliban's intelligence chief Qari Ahmadullah, said that bin Laden would re-emerge after another big attack.
He did not claim to have seen bin Laden or explain how he knew he was alive. "He is waiting for the next big attack and then he will show his body," said Obeidullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name. He didn't specify the target.
After that interview, Obeidullah was arrested by the Afghan authorities in the eastern city of Jalalabad, caught with a car packed with explosives, which the police said he planned to explode.
Fazul Rabi Said-Rahman, the Taliban army corps commander for eastern Afghanistan and Paktika police chief during the last six months of Taliban rule, also said bin Laden was alive and would orchestrate more attacks.
He also refused to say how he knew.
"We have information that there will be some big suicide attacks in the United States," he said. "We know it will happen. We have information. We know the situation. The Americans and the British are the big enemies. They have destroyed Afghanistan."
Pakistan's president has said he believes bin Laden is likely dead. Musharraf has been attacked by extremists opposed to his support for the U.S.-led coalition's war in Afghanistan.
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