Cryptic but hopeful. What kind of information could he have to make him think one of them is dead but the others are okay?

“We know who that guy [i.e., the ringleader] is,” Gen. David Petraeus said in a May 18 interview with Army Times. “He’s sort of an affiliate of al-Qaida. … He’s the big player down in that area. We’ve tangled with him before.”

“Somebody’s given us the names of all the guys that participated in it and told us how they did it, and all the rest of that stuff,” he said. “Now, we have to verify that at some point in time, but it sounds spot on. We’ve had all kinds of tips down there. … We just tragically haven’t found the individuals. But on the other hand, they haven’t been able to smuggle out, at least to my knowledge, the traditional video.”

Petraeus said he didn’t know for sure if the three missing soldiers were alive or dead. “As of this morning, we thought there were at least two that were probably still alive,” he said. “At one point in time there was a sense that one of them might have died, but again we just don’t know.”