The USA has twice before tried to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, once in 1998 and again a year later.
In 1998, the Pentagon presented President Clinton with three options to eliminate Bin Laden. The first was a nighttime helicopter drop of US Special Forces near the international terrorist’s hideout. The second was an all-out bombing raid on Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold where Bin Laden was living. The third, the solution adopted by Washington, was the choice to launch missiles against Bin Laden’s terrorist training camps in Eastern Afghanistan.
This decision was agreed upon by the then US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Defence Secretary William Cohen, and National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger. It now transpires that Tomahawk missiles were launched against the training camps, but these missed Bin Laden by minutes. It is reported that increased CIA activity in the area since then has also failed to reach its target.
In October 1999, another operation was planned, this time from Pakistan, from where crack Pakistani troops, trained by the CIA, were prepared to form a snatch squad. Only the coup d’etat which brought General Musharraf to power foiled the plot. It was cancelled on 12th October, 1999.
What is unclear is how it was possible for Al-Qaeda to hide the attacks of September 11th from the secret services, given that both the organization and its master were (in)famous former acquaintances of the CIA.
If there is a military strike on Afghanistan in the next seven days, and nothing indicates that there will not be, the first engagement must be a complete success because Afghanistan does not have the terrain to go chasing after shadows. What would be a disaster would be for a first strike to fail, drawing in a foreign invading force in a protracted and messy struggle with the Taliban.
The humanitarian catastrophe that is already staring the innocent civilian population in the face would then explode.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL
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