From Khartoum to Kabul

The Hunt for Bin Laden Episode 1 of 2
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Thirty eight minutes in Abbottabad marked the dramatic end to the hunt for a man who had eluded the world's super power for more than 15 years. Osama bin Laden's name had surfaced during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but was of little interest to the Americans because he had been fighting the Russians.

The Saudi militant later moved to Khartoum in Sudan, where he acted like a respectable businessman. Beneath the veneer was a man who led a sophisticated terrorist operation with its own banking wing and accountants.

Cofer Black, the CIA's head of station, tells how the CIA kept an eye on bin Laden and his followers who became so alarmed by the American's presence that they hatched an unsuccessful plan to kill him. Pressure was put on the Sudanese government and in 1996 the al-Qaeda leader was forced to return to Afghanistan where he made plain his intentions by declaring war on America.

When the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed in 1998, John Anticev, from the FBI, was sent to investigate. He describes how one of the bombers confirmed their suspicions by handing over the number of a satellite phone. It belonged to bin Laden.

By now the CIA had set up a special bin Laden unit which came up with several plans to eliminate the al-Qaeda leader but they were rejected by the White House. One of the problems was that bin Laden never stayed in the same place twice.

Senior figures charged with monitoring bin Laden's activities say they repeatedly attempted to warn the incoming Bush administration of the growing threat. Just how serious that threat was became clear on September 11th 2001.

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30 minutes

Last on

Fri 15 Jul 2011 11:00