George Bush on Friday denied that the CIA had closed a unit dedicated to the hunt for the al-Qaeda leader because the hunt had become less important.

"We got a lot of assets looking for Osama bin Laden," Bush said during a news conference.
  
"It's a matter of time, unless we stop looking. And we're not going to stop looking so long as I'm the president - not only for Osama bin Laden, but anybody else who plots and plans attacks against the United States of America," he said.

The terrorist tracking unit, known inside the agency as "Alec Station," was disbanded last year and its analysts moved to other offices working in counter-terrorism at the CIA, intelligence officials said. 

Still alive

Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri have eluded US forces and continue to release videos and audiotapes to show they are still alive.

The al-Qaeda leaders are widely believed to be hiding somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"In the short run, we will bring these people to justice. ...In the long run, the way you defeat this enemy is to spread liberty, and that's what you're seeing unfold," Bush said

After the September 11 attacks five years ago, Bush declared he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive", words he later came to regret after his wife Laura told him to tone it down.