Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Special unit that hunted for bin Laden is closed down

Tampa Bay's 10

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA says efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden are as strong as ever, despite a report that the agency has shut down a unit that hunted for the al-Qaida leader and his top lieutenants.

The New York Times reports two dozen analysts in the unit were re-assigned to other counter-terrorism duties late last year.

Officials tell the newspaper the move came amid growing concern in the agency about al-Qaida-inspired groups carrying out attacks independent of bin Laden. But officials stress that finding the elusive terror leader remains a high priority.

The recent book “Ghost Wars” says some in the C-I-A were uncomfortable with the unit, saying its zeal for capturing bin Laden took on a cult-like atmosphere.

A former senior C-I-A official who once headed the unit tells the Times that the move reflects the view that bin Laden is no longer the threat he once was. But he says that view is mistaken.

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