Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Origins of Al Qaeda

Osama bin Laden is born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is the son of a rich construction company owner and his least favorite wife. Osama becomes a zealous Salafist Muslim in a sect that forbids all music, dancing, television, movies, smoking and singing in addition to normal Islamic prohibitions against alcohol and unveiled women. Osama also learns to enjoy family camping trips to the desert without electricity or running water for weeks at a time.

In 1978, Osama meets Abdullah Azam, a speaker on the subject of jihad. Azzam says that “The jihad, the fighting, is obligatory wherever you can perform it. And just as when you are in America, you must fast – unless you are ill or on a voyage – so, too, you must wage jihad. The word jihad means fighting only, fighting with the sword.” Jihad is not a spiritual struggle. By this time, Osama has joined the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical organization banned in most Arab countries. The Brotherhood wants to topple Islamic dictatorships and return to the seventh-century values of Mohammed.

In November 1979 revolution in Iran teaches Osama two things: Islamic theocracy is possible, and Carter’s inaction teaches him not to fear the US.

On December 25, 1979 the Soviets invade Afghanistan. Osama joins Muslim radicals in Pakistan resisting them. The group is known as the “Arab Afghans.” Osama spends much of the war in Peshawar, Pakistan at the “bureau of services” (renamed al-Qaeda in 1989, which means “the base” in Arabic). In his role as quartermaster, Osama registers Arab recruits from around the world. He uses these contacts to terror cells in 55 countries in the 1990s. The Arab Afghans are supported by Saudi Arabia and other rich Arab nations. They are extremely anti-western. The Arab Afghans mainly fight amongst themselves and contribute little to the war effort. The US CIA supports native Afghans fighting the Soviets, but does not fund Arab groups like Bin Ladin’s. At this point, the US does not even know that OBL exists.

In February 1989, the Soviets exit Afghanistan. OBL continues fighting to transform Afghanistan into an Islamic state. He constructs many vast training camps that graduate classes of terrorists every six months. On November 24, 1989,OBL’s former mentor, Azam, is assassinated with his two sons. Osama now has total control over the global terror network.
Osama also becomes a hero in Saudi Arabia for his actions, many fictional, in Afghanistan.

In 1990, El Said Nosair kills Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, in New York. Documents in Nosair’s apartment, when translated years later, reveal that Ali Mohammed, an Egyptian soldier who teaches US army soldiers about terrorists and is a source for the CIA and FBI, is a double agent. In 1993, he helped survey several US embassies in east Africa.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait. OBL contacts Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan to propose that his family’s construction firm build border defenses around Saudi Arabia and that he supply thousands of Afghan War veterans to defend SA. In return, the Saudis will keep US troops out of Arabia. The Saudis reject his offer and Osama’s hatred of the US and the Saudi royal family deepen. By February 1991, Coalition forces are victorious in Kuwait, but many non-Muslim forces stay behind to administer the Iraqi no-fly zones and preserve the peace. Osama views this as a violation of a Koran passage that reads “there shall be no two religions in Arabia.” In April 1991, after criticizing the Saudi royal family repeatedly and being placed under house arrest, Osama flees to Khartoum, Sudan. He is treated as a VIP at the annual meeting of terrorists, the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference. He expands his network through these new contacts.

December 29, 1992 is OBL’s first attack on the US. Bombings of the Goldmore and Aden Hotels in Aden, Yemen, which are temporary home to almost 100 US Marines supporting operations in Somalia, are thwarted by security guards and local police. Two civilians are killed and US personnel are withdrawn from Yemen, a moral victory for OBL.

In early 1990s, US Rep. Bill McCollum (R-FL) and his staffer Yossef Bodansky, of the House Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, learn from Afghan sources that OBL wants to impose Iranian-style rule in Afghanistan and that he is targeting Americans. President Clinton takes no action against the threat.

On February 26, 1993, OBL’s men carry out the first Islamic terrorist attack on US soil when they detonate a van of explosives in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. They intend to kill thousands, but instead kill only a handful. The FBI determines that the explosion is caused by a bomb within hours, but Clinton does not treat it like an act of war, and only addresses it directly in one radio address. The attack is treated as a criminal matter, not as a threat to national security. Clinton continues with cuts to defense budget.

Because the attack is treated as a law enforcement matter, the FBI does not share intelligence with other agencies through the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC). Rule 6E of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure discourage information sharing because a judge could require the information then would have to be shared with accused terrorists or rule it inadmissible. The CIA does not learn the full story of the bombing until after the first trial ends in 1996. FBI agents had known for years that a network of Islamic terrorists was growing in the NY-NJ area, but cannot investigate unless they have evidence that a crime has been committed or is under way, according to law and DOJ guidelines. They are not allowed to investigate CT and PA gun ranges where radicals train or mosques where they meet.

In early 1993, Mohammed Atef, OBL’s chief deputy, goes to Somalia. OBL soon begins supplying Mohammed Farah Aidid, a Somali warlord, with weapons and training. Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, linked to al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad is one of the instructors who teach Aidid’s men techniques to use RPGs against helicopters. US intelligence intercepts Arabic radio transmissions directing mortar fire against UN troops. Somalis do not speak Arabic.

Ayman Zawahiri, leader of Islamic Jihad and OBL’s personal doctor, lists enemies of Islam in his book Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet. These are:
(a) The United States
(b) Russia
(c) The United Nations
(d) Muslim rulers friendly to the west
(e) Multi-national corporations
(f) International communications and data-exchange systems
(g) International news agencies and media, and
(h) International relief agencies

In the spring of 1993, Clinton places US troops in Somalia under UN command. This is the first time that US troops have been under foreign command. Typically, US commanders lead UN Peacekeeping Forces. Additionally, UN rules of engagement are stricter than those of the US military. Weapons that would have been seized under US rules now show up again since the UN cannot stop the militias.

On June 5, 1993, Aidid’s men ambush and kill 24 Pakistani Peacekeepers. The UN puts a price on Aidid’s head. On June 26, 1993, Clinton orders cruise missile strikes against an empty headquarters building of Iraqi intelligence as a reprisal for the attempted assassination of former President Bush. The missiles strike in the middle of the night. This is likely viewed as a show of weakness by both OBL and Saddam. On August 8, 1993, four US Army MPs are ambushed and killed by a bomb. Clinton does not respond. On August 22, 1993, six more US troops are injured by a bomb. Clinton orders the Delta Force and US Army Rangers to Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger to capture Aidid. On September 23, 1993, Les Aspin, Secretary of Defense, denies a request for armored vehicles to be sent to Somalia. He believes that they would represent a politically unpopular “escalation.” September 25, 1993 – A US Army UH-60 Blackhawk, “Courage 53,” is shot down in Somalia by an RPG. All aboard are killed.

On October 3-4, 1993 – Task Force Ranger is ambushed. Two Blackhawks are shot down by RPGs. Rescue efforts are hampered by the lack of US armored vehicles, and ultimately Malaysian and Pakistani tanks help relieve the US troops. This mission is the basis for Blackhawk Down. 18 Americans are killed and 84 wounded. Two days later, Clinton announces the decision to withdraw all US troops from Somalia. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake argues, “You’d be painting a bulls-eye on every American soldier everywhere in the world.”

In a 1998 interview with ABC News, Osama says, “Our boys went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war…. Our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier, and they realized that the American soldier was a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging.”

In 1994, Osama is cut off by his family and stripped of his Saudi citizenship. The Saudis allegedly order his execution and an attempt is made on his life. In October, Ramzi Youssef begins planning for terrorist strikes using aircraft in the Philippines. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the operation’s commander. The money trail leads to OBL.

Between January 6 and February 8, 1995 Ramzi Youssef and Abdul Hakim Murad, a US-trained Kuwaiti Airlines pilot, are arrested. Youssef has pictures of OBL in his baggage and a business card from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a relative of OBL, in his wallet. The Filipino police have disrupted a plot to kill Pope John Paul II with a suicide bomb as he visited the Philippines. Youssef had also been testing a bomb designed to get past airport security. This type of bomb was tested with an explosion in a Filipino movie theater. It was also tested with a detonation aboard a Philippine Airlines flight, which ripped a hole in the airplane’s fuselage, killing one passenger. The plan was to set bombs in several US airliners stopping in the Philippines. The project was called “Project Bojinka” (Serbo-Croatian for “loud bang,” a reference to al Qaeda’s activities in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s). Furthermore, President Clinton was also to have been a target when he made a trip to the Philippines. Ramzi Youssef is later convicted of the WTC bombings and sentenced to 240 years in prison. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is tracked to Qatar after stopping in Sudan. FBI agents get an extradition order, but Khalid is tipped off by a Qatari government official and escapes to Prague.

On November 13, 1995, Al Qaeda car bomb at the Saudi National Guard office building in Riyadh kills six Americans and wounds more than 60. The same day, intelligence satellites intercept a wireless phone call in which a caller gives OBL a code word, then Osama becomes emotional, blesses the caller and says “This is not the first or the last. The rain starts with one drop and it soon becomes a downpour.”

In January 1996, the interagency Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) establishes a Bin Ladin Unit. Forty terrorists are captured and turned over to Arab nations (mainly Egypt) where they are tortured, tried, and executed. In February, Sudan offers Bin Ladin to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis turn down the offer. The Clinton Administration tries to get the Saudis to take Bin Ladin. The Saudis want him neutralized, but do not want to take custody. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Taha tells the US Ambassador, Tim Carny, “If you want Bin Ladin, we will give you Bin Ladin.”

On March 3, 1996, at a clandestine meeting, the CIA and State Department ask Sudanese Minister of State for Defense Elfatih Erwa for information on Bin Ladin. Five days later, Erwa offers to arrest Bin Ladin. The CIA representative tells Erwa that the US has “nothing we can hold him on.” Erwa offers to watch Bin Ladin and pass along surveillance files, but is repeatedly turned down by the Clinton Administration, both formally and informally. (Anthony Lake, Sandy Berger, and Richard Clarke either don’t remember or deny the offers.)

On May 18, 1996 – OBL is expelled from Sudan and relocates to Afghanistan via Pakistan. By switching planes at the last minute, he eludes tracking devices. A CIA memo later discovered by the Washington Times says that “We have no unilateral sources close to Bin Ladin, nor any reliable way of intercepting his communications. We must rely on foreign intelligence services to confirm his movements and activities.”

On October 12, 1996, Osama says “It is the duty of every tribe in the Arabian peninsula to fight jihad and cleanse the land from these Crusader occupiers. Their wealth is booty to those who kill them.”

In February 1997, a paid lobbyist for the Sudan, meets Interior Minister Bakri Hassan Salih, who offers to share Sudan’s Bin Ladin files over the next few months. The lobbyist passes several warnings about al Qaeda attacks on Americans in Africa to the FBI.

In February 1997, Osama says, “If someone wants to kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters.”

On April 5, 1997, Sudan President Bashir unconditionally invites the US to share their intelligence files on OBL. There is no response. On May 21, 1997, Clinton fundraiser and unofficial emissary Mansoor Ijaz personally tells Clinton about the offer from Sudan. There is still no response.

In May 1997, CIA Director George Tenet says that he “think[s] we are already at war. We have been on a war footing for a number of years now.”

On September 24, 1997, Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, announces a plan to re-engage Sudan by sending a diplomatic team, which would have included intelligence officers. The plan is scrapped because of bureaucratic infighting (reportedly involving Susan Rice of the State Department and Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor).

On February 23, 1998, Osama issues a fatwa against the US. “The ruling to kill Americans and their allies – civilian and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it.” One of his reasons for the fatwa is the "Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people." Osama mentions aggression against Iraq four times in the fatwa. Later, Osama says on al Jazeera, “Our enemy is every American male, whether he is directly fighting us or paying taxes.”

In May 1998, Osama speaks at an al Qaeda press conference in Afghanistan:
By God’s grace, we have formed with many other Islamic groups and organizations in the Islamic world a front, called the International Islamic Front, to do jihad against the Crusaders and Jews. "And by God’s grace, the men reacted to this call and they are going on this path and they are doing a good job. By God’s will, their actions are going to have a successful result in killing Americans and getting rid of them."

On May 22, 1998 – Richard Clarke becomes America’s first Anti-Terrorism Czar. Clinton signs finding that allows the CIA to go after OBL, but not intentionally kill him. Several plans are discussed but not acted upon.

On August 7, 1998, US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are attacked simultaneously by suicide bombers. Hundreds are killed. A surviving terrorist, al Owhali, is captured. Two days later, Sudan arrests two al Qaeda operatives planning a second round of embassy bombings. The US never takes custody of the men and they are eventually returned to Pakistan, where they disappear.

On August 20, 1998, Bill Clinton responds to the embassy bombings with a cruise missile attack on al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and the al Shifa chemical factory in Sudan believed to be owned by Osama and making poison gas. Furthermore, the Clinton Administration noted that al Shifa allegedly had ties with Iraq. Unfortunately, Pakistan tips off OBL about the attacks and he escapes. The factory turns out to be an aspirin factory owned by an innocent businessman. Bill Richardson, now US Ambassador to the UN, meets with the Taliban. They refuse to expel OBL because of Islamic duties to guests and because one of Osama’s daughters is now married to a son of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader.

On November 4, 1998, the U.S Department of Justice files an indictment against Osama Bin Laden. This indictment repeats the disputed claim that "al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq."

In 1999, Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance finds an al Qaeda training manual but no one at the CIA is interested. The CIA does set up communications surveillance equipment in Afghanistan, but little use is made of the intercepts. Also in 1999, the Northern Alliance unsuccessfully attempts to assassinate OBL. The Americans tell them not to try again. Nevertheless, two more unsuccessful attempts are carried out in 2000. The Northern Alliance takes over 1000 al Qaeda prisoners, but only one Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst ever interrogates them. Later, the analyst is ordered by the Administration to cease all travel to Afghanistan, even during vacation.

On July 5, 1999, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offers to form a commando unit to be trained by the US for the mission of killing OBL. The US agrees, but Sharif is toppled by a coup before the mission can take place.

On December 2, 1999, Jordanian intelligence raids an al Qaeda cell in Amman. They arrest 13 men and uncover a plan for multiple attacks on Americans on the Millennium Eve. This includes plans for a small arms attack on the Jordan River site of Jesus’ baptism.

On December 14, 1999 alert US Customs agents in Port Angeles, Washington find a large bomb in the trunk of a car driven by Ahmed Ressam, a member of a Vancouver sleeper cell. His mission was apparently to destroy Los Angeles International Airport.

US submarines are on station to launch cruise missiles to kill OBL, but George Tenet overrules the launch order repeatedly saying that the intelligence on OBL’s whereabouts is not good enough.

In 2000, Ottilie English, sister of Rep. Phil English and Washington representative of the Northern Alliance, obtains seven hours of videotaped conversations with al Qaeda prisoners. A CIA officer tells her that “I’ve been writing that in reports for years now and nothing happens. Maybe you can get them (the Clinton Administration) to listen. Attempts are made by the United Arab Emirates to negotiate a deal with the Taliban to deliver OBL.

On January 3, 2000, OBL’s men attempt to attack the American destroyer, USS the Sullivans in Aden, Yemen harbor. Instead, the terrorists’ boat begins to sink under the weight of the bomb. The US does not learn about this attempt for nearly a year. January 3 is traditionally known as the “night of power” in Islam.

In July 2000, CIA informant reveals that a Lebanese group affiliated with OBL is planning to attack a US Navy ship in the eastern Mediterranean. On August 8, 2000, Al Qaeda bombers attack the USS Cole in the Aden, Yemen harbor. 17 sailors are killed and 39 wounded. Clinton Administration officials decide against a military response.

In September 2000, armed Predator drone aircraft are sent hunting for OBL in Afghanistan. Administration support for the program evaporates when a Predator crashes in October, in large part because of CIA and USAF resentment towards Richard Clarke.

In January 2001, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is photographed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with leaders of the 9-11 attacks. He is also linked to Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, who funneled thousands of dollars from a bank in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to the 9-11 hijackers.

On September 9, 2001, Al Qaeda members assassinate Northern Alliance military chief Ahmed Shah Massoud. This prepares Afghanistan for the US response to the coming al Qaeda attacks.

September 11, 2001. The Pentagon and World Trade Center are attacked killing 2,998 innocent people as well as 19 terrorist hijackers. The War on Terror begins.

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