After three months in which the hunt for bin Laden has looked nearly hopeless, U.S. authorities now seem convinced that their top terror suspect is hiding in the lawless borderland territory. That conviction may have been bolstered by a cache of documents and computer discs found in Abu Zubaydah's lair in central Pakistan. If intelligence from the Abu Zubaydah raid has added to the U.S. evidence that bin Laden is hiding in the borderlands, Musharraf's decision may get tougher yet.
U.S. forces are seeking to undertake another raid inside Pakistan, sources in Islamabad tell TIME, like the one that captured Osama bin Laden's lieutenant, Abu Zubaydah, two weeks ago. This time, however, they are after bigger quarry: bin Laden himself. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, the sources say, was in Islamabad last month to ask Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for permission to make the raid on Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan. But Musharraf has still not given his consent. He is hesitant, the sources say, because the fierce tribes of the region are well armed and sympathetic to Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. An American military operation, especially if it went wrong, could weaken the Pakistani leader's already frayed ties to the area.