Before 9/11 – Taliban – al Qaeda

(8:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

The National Security Archive has just released a Load of Files Electronic Briefing Book No. 253 Posted – August 20, 2008 under the title: 1998 Missile Strikes on Bin Laden May Have Backfired with a subtitle: Extensive 1999 Report on Al-Qaeda Threat Released by U.S. Dept of Energy,

Taliban Told U.S. They Wanted to Bomb Washington

With backlinks to the PDF’s and more links in the sidebar on the left.

On the tenth anniversary of U.S. cruise missile strikes against al-Qaeda in response to deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, newly-declassified government documents posted today by the National Security Archive (NS Archive) suggest the strikes not only failed to hurt Osama bin Laden but ultimately may have brought al-Qaeda and the Taliban closer politically and ideologically.

I’ve just glanced through some but the same questions come up that have with the remembering the reports on the Taliban and al Qaeda prior to 9/11, the many unanswered questions from the commission on 9/11, the dodging of questions and outright lies from some within the government, especially the administration, at the time and since, with more added as the policies of the administration exploded into the negatives for this country and it’s national security and now negative standing amoung nations on this planet.

One question keeps growing, “With all this country must have known, through it’s extremely well financed and technology advanced Intelligence Agencies, how were the acts of 9/11 allowed to happen?”!

The reasons given, intelligence sharing etc., are just to simplified to carry any weight, not after being told, and shown some, for years what our monies were buying and suspecting much more that was not told in the interest of National Security.

A 400-page Sandia National Laboratories report on bin Ladin { this is a big pdf download }, compiled in 1999, includes a warning about political damage for the U.S. from bombing two impoverished states without regard for international agreement, since such action “mirror imag[ed] aspects of al-Qaeda’s own attacks” (see pp. 18-22 {pdf}). A State Department cable {pdf} argues that although the August missile strikes were designed to provide the Taliban with overwhelming reason to surrender bin Laden, the military action may have sharpened Afghan animosity towards Washington and even strengthened the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance.

Following the August 20 U.S. air attacks, Taliban spokesman Wakil Ahmed told U.S. Department of State officials {pdf} “If Kandahar could have retaliated with similar strikes against Washington, it would have.” Such an attack, although unfeasible at the time, was at least in part actualized by al-Qaeda on 9/11.

Following the 1998 embassy bombings, the U.S. sought to extradite bin Laden to Saudi Arabia or possibly Egypt, but failed to get bin Laden out of Afghanistan because, at least according to the U.S. Department of State {pdf}, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were unable or unwilling to apply enough pressure to coerce Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar to surrender bin Laden.

The lengthy Sandia report compiled by Dr. Gary W. Richter {pdf} synthesizes an impressive volume of public-source information available on bin Laden into a coherent summary of the al-Qaeda terrorist threat following the August embassy bombings. The report concludes that the bombings did not take U.S. intelligence and diplomatic services by surprise, as the U.S. in 1998 had capable counterterrorism intelligence gathering and interdiction capabilities. However, according to the report, in retrospect, the August 20 retaliatory cruise missile strikes may have caused long-term political harm to U.S. national security and counterterrorism interests (see pp. 18-22 {pdf}). The report contains extensive timelines, biographies and issue summaries and is useful for researchers interesting in the evolution of al-Qaeda and the American response.

The see pp. 18-22 above are small pdf’s giving some quick interesting bullet points.

Read the Documents. This link is the same as the very first above. There are a number of documents at the bottom of the page to sort through.

Note: The following documents are in PDF format. You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

Under Document 1 dated December 6, 1999 ou will find some information and backlinks along with these bullet points:

*  The “war” against terrorism will never be “won,” as terrorism will always be a global problem.

* The August 7, 1998, embassy bombings should not be taken as an indication that U.S. counterterrorism efforts are entirely ineffective.

* The August 20, 1998, retaliatory cruise missile strikes did little to help solve the problem posed by bin Laden and may ultimately prove to have done more harm than good.

* The risk of future attacks by Osama bin Laden or his associates using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is not insignificant.

* The root cause of the militant threat is the widespread and deep-seated discontent among a large segment of the Islamic world, as opposed to the actions or agitation of any one individual or group of individuals. As such, diplomatic options are likely to be the most effective strategies at reducing the threat.


*  The U.S. was not “blindsided” by a new threat, as much was already known about al-Qaeda, including its anti-American aspirations and the existence of an East African al-Qaeda cell. [page 18]

* Members of this East African cell had been identified before August 7, and were under “intense scrutiny.” It is likely “that this campaign of disruption had done much to dissipate the threat.”  [page 18]

* In response to the ongoing surveillance, threat evaluation and disruption operations, the members of this cell “felt themselves to be at “100% danger.” [page 18]

* “In retrospect there were also specific indications of a bomb plot,” however “it seems as if threat assessment personnel in Washington did not take the warning signs as seriously as did the embassy personnel in Nairobi.” [page 19]

* The number of bombings prevented far exceeds the number of bombings that were not stopped by U.S. security efforts. [page 18]


*  High cost

* International criticism

* Questionable justice in that the strikes “killed only (or nearly only) individuals who were innocent of the embassy bombings”

* Reputational damage from disregarding alliances

* Questionable effectiveness in destroying or disrupting al-Qaeda or perspective terrorists

* Possible diminished impact for any future U.S. strikes by “demonstrating how little [the U.S] could achieve (e.g., limited physical damage),” by depleting ammunition, providing adversaries with an opportunity to observe and reformulate strategies based on observed vulnerabilities, and convincing bin Laden that the U.S. is unwilling to use higher-cost forms of force that would put U.S. personnel at risk

* “The attack provoked a new round of terrorist bombing plots.”

* Bin Laden received a good deal of publicity and “appeared to many as an underdog standing firm in the face of bullying aggression.”

* The Taliban’s poor control over Afghanistan “may mean that they shouldn’t bear responsibility for the acts of those on their soil.”

* The U.S. may have given away the moral high ground by mirroring certain aspects of bin Laden’s strategy with the attacks, and the U.S. bombed targets in independent third-world countries without concern for the sensitivities or sovereignty of those nations.


*  Justified under domestic law

* Calling attention to the bin Laden-Taliban connection, which complicated the Taliban’s ability to gain international recognition as well as their future ability to justify support for Muslim fundamentalist groups

* Demonstrated U.S. resolve, dedication to dealing with terrorism as a matter of national security, and the reach of U.S. military power

* Provides incentives for nations to cooperate in U.S. counterterrorism activities, if for no other reason but to avoid unilateral action

* May deter terrorists and nations from harboring terrorists

There’s alot of reading and research that can be found and added to the already known and suspected.

Where Iraq fits into all this sits only in the minds of those who wanted an invasion an regime change for years before, those who once supported that dictatorship, and saw wealth and extreme power in toppling their once friend and allie, and controlling a country in the center of the region to grant expansion of that extreme wealth and power.

What the invasion and occupation of Iraq has accomplished is far beyond what any extremist anywhere in the region or not hoped for, total unrest and hatreds. One needs only look at Afghanistan today, the Pakistan border region and Pakistan, the continuation of actions in the Iraq theater, the push back by the Iranians and their preparations to ward off attack by anyone, Guerilla Insurgents reportedly flowing into the border region from all over and waging growing destructive attacks on Nato forces and the Afghans, and the growing Criminal Terror attacks in other points outside of these theaters.

Where we once might have had friends an allies we created enemies.

Where we had the chance to better relations with the other powers they are ignoring us and recently sticking our own actions right back in our faces, they will allie with the region those few wanted to control, against us.

And we as a Nation will move on in our Apathy, holding No One Accountable, an with no knowledge of what the future brings, only knowing it will not be what it should have been!


  1. The neocons got their Pearl Harbor, their dream come true, providing them with exactly what they needed to begin the Long War, a never ending quest for “full spectrum dominance”, a perpetual war, and an assault on the Bill or Rights to control the masses and maintain a war footing.

    The war on terror is a huge hoax. What is it going to take to throw this hoax off the backs of the American people and the rest of the world?

    Excellent essay Jimstaro. Thanks for this and for some new references to check out.

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