Afghanistan’s top attorney: bin Laden likely dead | ParkRecord.com

Afghanistan’s top attorney: bin Laden likely dead

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

American leaders say publicly they are unsure whether Osama bin Laden is still living.

The opinion of a top-ranking official from Afghanistan: the al-Qaida leader and the figure accused of organizing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is likely dead.

American forces might not have killed him, but a medical condition may have, the attorney general of Afghanistan said during a recent visit to Park City.

During an invitation-only event at a Park City mansion, Abdul Jabar Sabet told a small crowd of Parkites and people from Salt Lake City bin Laden was sick when al-Qaida was pushed out of Afghanistan after Sept. 11.

Bin Laden might have succumbed to a kidney ailment after being unable to undergo dialysis treatment, Sabet said.

"I think he might be dead. This is my view of him," the attorney general said, adding, "I don’t think he had that kind of machinery."

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He said bin Laden’s legacy in Afghanistan is nonexistent.

Sabet and a group of prosecutors from Afghanistan visited Park City toward the end of a three-week training session at the University of Utah meant to bolster the Afghan legal system as the country emerges from the Taliban regime that was toppled after Sept. 11.

In an interview and in remarks to a small crowd, Sabet touched on issues like the Afghan indebtedness to America after a U.S.-led coalition defeated the Taliban, what he sees as the need for Americans to remain in Afghanistan and the American presidential campaign.

Sabet’s visit to Park City was not widely publicized beforehand, but the road to the Canyon Court house where he spoke was lined with parked cars for his appearance.

"We feel that the government of the U.S., and the people, are our friends. Because of them, we have stability and peace," Sabet said, calling Afghanistan "stable" and "peaceful" compared to the period just after the Taliban fell.

He credits the U.S. military presence for the calm he describes. Without the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, Sabet said, the Taliban would regain some of its power. He said America’s commitment is "very necessary for us."

"If the American forces withdraw from the country, there would be chaos immediately," Sabet said.

He thanked American taxpayers for the protection he is given, which includes 20 bodyguards, bulletproof cars and a bulletproof office.

Sabet, who is 63 years old and lives in the capital of Kabul. During the Taliban reign, he lived in Canada, leaving Afghanistan in 1980 and returning in 2002.

He received applause as he delivered his remarks, speaking about the importance of attorneys in post-Taliban Afghanistan. He fears a "disaster" if prosecutors like those in the session at the University of Utah are not trained.

Sabet declined to discuss the American presidential campaign at length, and he refused to endorse a candidate. He said he has more knowledge of Republican John McCain, his party’s presumed candidate, than he has of Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic candidate.

"He seems to be decisive. He seems to be precise about what he’s talking about," Sabet said about McCain. "When he says something, he means it."

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