By Matthew Kalman
DAILY MAIL 5th May 2010
Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in luxury in Iran.
At least, that’s the astonishing claim made in a new documentary shown at last week’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
According to 'Feathered Cocaine', a film about the illicit multi-million-dollar trade in hunting falcons for Middle East oil sheikhs, bin Laden has been living in a guarded compound north of Tehran with his wife, several children and grandchildren since 2003 - protected by the Iranian regime.
In the film, a disguised falcon smuggler from the former Soviet Union identified only as 'T-2' says he first met bin Laden in 2004 at a falcon-hunting camp in northeastern Iran.
'I met him five times after 2004,' says the smuggler.
'The last time we met was in October 2007. Every time, it was in Iran.'
Falcon hunting is an exclusive hobby practised by some of the richest men in the Middle East, who travel to luxurious desert retreats to pursue the sport. A bird’s value can reach one million dollars.
The claim contradicts the common theory that Bin Laden is living in an isolated network of fortified caves somewhere in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
His son Omar bin Laden, who married a British woman and broke with his father before the 9/11 attacks, revealed last year that seven of his siblings were living in Tehran and trying to leave.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the claim - and, apparently sarcastically, counter-claimed that bin Laden is hiding in Washington, D.C.
He told ABC News: 'Your question is laughable. Our position is quite clear.
'Some journalists have said bin Laden is in Iran. These words don't have legal value. Our position towards Afghanistan and against terrorism is quite clear... I don't know such a thing. You are giving news which is very strange.
'I heard that Osama bin Laden is in Washington, D.C.,' he added.
'Yes, I did. He's there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush. They were colleagues in fact in the old days. You know that. They were in the oil business together. They worked together.'
He's not in Iran, he's in Washington: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shown here at UN headquarters in New York yesterday, has sarcastically dismissed the claims
Bin Laden practices Wahhabism, a fundamentalist sect of Sunni Islam that is famously militant.
For that reason many experts have dismissed ideas that he could be in Iran - the largest country in the Middle East to practice Shia Islam.
But Alan Parrot, an American falconry expert who used to train falcons for Middle East millionaires, said the evidence unearthed during research for the film was so convincing he hatched a plan to kidnap bin Laden.
He claimed he was warned off by US government officials.
Parrot said bin Laden’s royal hunting friends brought him 'hundreds of millions of dollars' in cash during these expeditions, as well as military equipment.
The film shows a U.A.E. military C-130 transport plane delivering equipment to the camps.
Bin Laden’s penchant for falcon hunting gave the CIA an opportunity to assassinate him in 1999, according to the final report of the 9/11 commission.
He was spotted in a hunting camp in Afghanistan serving one of the Gulf royal families and CIA Director George Tenet asked President Bill Clinton for permission to launch a cruise missile strike on the camp on February 8, 1999.
The mission was aborted on orders from the White House.
'T-2' gave the filmmakers the frequencies of tiny radio trackers attached to bin Laden’s hunting falcons.
John Loftus, an American lawyer with connections to U.S. security agencies, said the CIA could use the frequencies to lead them to bin Laden’s falcons - and so to bin Laden himself.
Loftus said he offered the information to the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies but got no response.
Loftus and the filmmakers even approached 'Rewards for Justice', the State Department office offering a $50 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture, but never received a reply.
Investigative reporter Ken Timmerman, who also appears in the film, interviewed a U.S. intelligence official who said that electronic intelligence intercepts appeared to back up the story, 'indicating the presence of a very important person in the region at the dates "T-2" mentioned.'
'Iranian authorities were moving the VIP from Tehran to Zahedan, a centre of the falcon-hunting grounds, which were closed off to all foreign visitors for security reasons,' said Timmerman.
'There was no doubt in my mind that they were expecting a big shot, and it makes sense to think it was bin Laden,' he claimed the U.S. official said.