General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, walked into the celebration of Saudi Arabia's national day in Washington D.C. and was immediately posed with the question of the day. "Is it true?" Hayden was asked by a Time reporter. "Nope," Hayden said, immediately adding to the accumulating statements on the paucity of evidence that Osama bin Laden was dead. About an hour before, the Saudi government itself declared that it "has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified." Pakistani intelligence sources, who monitor the mountainous regions where Bin Laden is believed to be hiding out, had also dismissed the reports of the terror leader's death. A well placed source in Washington said the idea of Bin Laden's demise appears to have originated as a "hypothesis of some Saudi intelligence analysts with no hard evidence to back it up. No one at a high level is satisfied it's true." At his country's national day celebration in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal said, "My understanding is that [Bin Laden] is alive and well and kicking. But I may be wrong."
Earlier on Saturday, the French newspaper L'Est Republicain cited a report by the French intelligence service, Direction Generale des Services Exteriors (DGSE), saying that Saudi intelligence officials "seem to have become convinced that Osama bin Laden is dead." The report quoted by the newspaper said the Saudis believe bin Laden "might have succumbed to a very serious case of typhoid fever resulting in partial paralysis of his lower limbs while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006." Echoing that report, a Saudi source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TIME that Saudi officials have received multiple reports over the last several weeks that Bin Laden has been suffering from a water-borne illness. "This is not a rumor," said the source. "He is very ill. He got a water-related sickness and it could be terminal... But we don't have any concrete information to say that he is dead." The French government has reportedly begun an investigation into the leak of the DGSE report to L'Est Republicain.
With reporting by Tala Skari/Paris