1998 Missile Strikes on Bin Laden May Have Backfired
1999 Report on Al-Qaeda Threat Released by U.S. Dept of Energy
Taliban Told U.S. They Wanted to Bomb Washington
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Barbara Elias – 202/994-7000 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC, August 20, 2008 – 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 (www.nsarchive.org) 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.
A 400-page Sandia National Laboratories report on bin Ladin, 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.” A State Department cable 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 “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.
Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today’s posting.
Related news here.
Just what is meant by the term Failure of Intelligence?
The term is being heard more frequently these days. Not as often as the term Surge, but often enough to serve the cause of punditry in these dark days.
Osama bin Laden is back in the news again, with another of his messages.
But what do they mean?
Is this a failure of intelligence?
Reuters has published a list of bin Laden messages here, so you can look for yourselves.
Maybe you can figure it out.
Or maybe there just aren’t enough of those messages. Can we get him to generate more of them?
That could be the solution: get more messages to study. Any ideas on how to do that?
More is certainly better than fewer.
By Jon Caruthers
That’s the $25 million question, isn’t it?
For six years now, pundits, bloggers, media vetted “experts,” politicians, columnists, and all sorts, kinds, and flavors of prognosticators have weighed in on the subject with the general consensus being that he’s just on the Pakistani side of the Tora Bora mountains in the federally administrated tribal areas (FATA).
After giving the US military the slip in late 2001, Osama and company have seemingly disappeared into the ether, reconstituting periodically to give the metaphorical digit to the American people and giving the left more ammunition to fire at the Bush administration.
Although the question seems largely to have been settled in the media, taking a fresh look at the question of our age is instructive for understanding more about Al Qaeda and specifically why we’ve not seen another attack on American soil.
The general consensus among the intelligentsia in the government apparatus and parroted ad nauseam by the talking heads on the media circuit is that Osama is hiding out in the caves of the Hindu Kush.
I would argue that he’s not, and the fact that he’s not is the reason why he’s yet to be caught but more importantly the reason why we’ve yet to see an attack on American soil since that fateful day.
Let’s think this through.
Osama bin Laden is a hero in that part of the world – especially in the tribal areas.
This isn’t September 12th, 2001, we’re a few years down the road.
If he really were in FATA, somebody would have talked by this point.
Obviously they wouldn’t be singing to western intelligence agencies deliberately, these people take their blood oaths seriously, but they would have talked nonetheless.
People are people no matter where you go.
Maybe it would have been a couple of housewives gossiping while doing laundry down by the local creek, or some school kid bragging to his buddies on a soccer field, or a couple of camel traders yacking over tea in Peshawar – but people talk.
These mighty Pashtun warriors are still people and they’re still susceptible to water cooler conversations like the rest of us – even if they lack the water cooler.
We, along with the rest of the western world, have that part of the world hard wired with listening posts, spy drones, turncoats, secret agents, and every intelligence gathering asset known to man. Surely, we would have picked up his scent by now.
Moreover, this is a part of the world where blood feuds and tribal hatreds are a national pastime.
If you’re the leader of tribe A and you’ve got a longstanding blood feud with tribe B and you’ve found out through the grapevine that bin Laden is a guest of tribe B, what better way of settling your feud, making a quick $25 million (of course, as we’re told relentlessly by the talking heads, in that part of the world money has no real value but I’m sure they’d be interested in $25 million worth of trade goods), and getting the prime pastureland and livestock of tribe A than dropping a dime and waiting for the smoke to clear from the daisy cutter?
That the trail has gone cold for this long means that Osama is not in the FATA of Pakistan – although I’m sure he’s doing his best to ensure that the intelligence apparatus of the west believes him to be.
I would wager that he’s probably using cutouts to carry orders from his location to the FATA and broadcast them from there.
So, that brings up the question of where he actually is. . . .
Read the rest here.
A Tampa Web-hosting company has taken down a Web site used by al-Qaida for communicating in secret and hiding files from investigators.
The company, Noc4Hosts, took the action Monday after it was informed about the site by The Tampa Tribune.
Noc4Hosts, at 400 N. Tampa St., is in an office building that also rents space to the Tampa district of the U.S. attorney’s office.
The Web site includes a graphic interface program that is of special interest to those who monitor jihadi activity. Known as “Mujahideen Secrets 2,” it allows for encryption of messages and files.
“Mujahideen Secrets 2 is designed to allow mujahedeen encrypted communication online using elaborate algorithms and symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption keys,” said Eli Alshech, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project for the Middle East Media Research Institute, a think tank based in Washington.
The program, Alshech says, “shows their improved level of sophistication.”
Noc4Hosts “is not in cahoots with al-Qaida,” said Steve Eschweiler, the company’s general manager.
The site, he says, was one of several hundred thousand the company hosts. Web hosting companies keep banks of computer servers where individual Web sites are based.
“If there is anything anti-American, we will take them down,” Eschweiler says. “We work closely with authorities any time something like this comes up.”
In a 56-minute audio statement released on the Internet on December 29, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden issued his most vocal criticism to date of Iraqi nationalist insurgent groups.
Bin Laden said the failure of Sunni Arab insurgents to align with Al-Qaeda in Iraq is hurting the global jihadist effort and will ultimately impede the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq.
He also criticized Sunni Arab tribal leaders in Iraq who have joined the fight against Al-Qaeda, saying they were weak-hearted and misled, and he took aim at Shi’ite leaders, including Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr, saying they are quislings of the United States and Iran.
Read more here.