Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bin Laden's great escape: How the world's most wanted man made fools of elite troops who'd trapped him in his mountain lair - 29th Apr 2011

There could be no mistaking the voice as it crackled over the airwaves. ‘The time is now,’ it said, exhorting its followers to stand firm. ‘Arm your women and your children against the infidel!’

The CIA officer looked at his Arab adviser, Jalal, who was the world’s foremost authority on the voice, having studied it for seven years. Jalal knew what the CIA man was about to ask, and simply nodded.

The two men looked up from the captured short-range Al Qaeda radio and stared at the massive mountain range in front of them. Somewhere up there, in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan, was the world’s most wanted man — Osama Bin Laden.

Since the devastating Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington just three months before, the United States had been tracking him down, and now, in mid-December 2001, they were no more than a few miles away.

If Bin Laden could be captured or killed, the terrorists would be dealt a massive blow, and the U.S. could truly claim that it was winning the newly declared War Against Terror.

Although Operation Enduring Freedom — a military incursion by thousands of Nato and Afghan troops — was successfully liberating much of Afghanistan from Taliban control, there was no doubt that the real prize was Bin Laden himself.

But the head of Al Qaeda had chosen his redoubt with care. For several years, Bin Laden had developed an intricate network of caves and dwellings 14,000ft up in the White Mountains, in a settlement known as Tora Bora.

‘I feel really secure in the mountains,’ he told a Palestinian journalist in 1996, and he had good reason. Read More