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Plan to Capture Bin Laden Before 9/11 Was Called Off
ABC News ^ | 5/21/03 | Brian Ross

Posted on 05/21/2003 6:01:14 AM PDT by Interloper

The FBI made secret plans to capture and arrest Osama bin Laden five years ago, long before the terror leader's deadliest plan came to fruition.

Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent who is now an ABCNEWS consultant, said that federal agents seeking bin Laden had developed a plan to have a plane fly in and attack a compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where the terror leader was believed to have been holed up back in 1998 — three years before the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But when the plan went up the chain of command for approval, it was killed by then-Attorney General Janet Reno.

"They came to the decision that this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant," Cloonan said. There was concern that people around the bin Laden compound would be killed."

The Secret Team

Cloonan was part of a secret team of federal investigators whose sole purpose was to apprehend the terror leader.

Like other agents, he was relishing the idea of nabbing the head of al Qaeda.

"I would have said 'Sheik bin Laden, you are under arrest. You are charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad,' " he said.

Starting in early 1996, a team of FBI and CIA agents was secretly sent to an unmarked office in a nondescript building off the Beltway in Alexandria, Va. It was called Alex Station, and it was the center of a U.S. government operation to capture bin Laden. Cloonan was one of 13 FBI agents from New York who was part of Alex Station.

"We were in the business of trying to find people, track them down," he said.

By early 1998, Alex Station had developed enough information through investigation and informants to get a formal criminal indictment returned against bin Laden, which would still be used if he were captured today.

Cloonan said the agents learned a great deal about al Qaeda's operations and its leaders during this time.

"We can say for the first time, this is who is running al Qaeda, this is the military committee, this is what you do when you join al Qaeda, " Cloonan said. "You raise your right hand and you pledge bayat [swear allegiance] ... to bin Laden."

But Cloonan said they were on more than just a discovery mission.

"There's no sense in getting involved in a case like this and seeking an indictment if you're not going to bring this to a logical conclusion," Cloonan said. "And that logical conclusion for us was the arrest of bin Laden."

The Compound Plan

The plan to capture bin Laden was focused on a compound in Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban, the Islamic militia that ruled most of Afghanistan at the time.

"We had information, pretty good information on the particular house where he was," Cloonan said.

Using a desert area outside San Antonio, Texas, similar to the terrain in Afghanistan, the Alex Station team actually practiced the short takeoff and landing that would have been necessary to carry out the mission. A plane was to fly in from Uzbekistan.

"A U.S. plane was to fly in," Cloonan said. "And he [bin Laden] would have been greeted by an FBI agent, who would have said, 'Sheik bin Laden, there is a warrant for your arrest,'" he said.

The former attorney general declined to comment to ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, saying the incident was classified.

Cloonan says Reno's decision to kill the plan was never reopened


TOPICS: Breaking News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 911; alqaeda; binladen; fbi; jackcloonan; legacy; obl; prequel; reno
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1 posted on 05/21/2003 6:01:14 AM PDT by Interloper
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To: Interloper
Add this to Mansoor Ijaz's story, and you have the makings of one hell of a campaign stump speech, about why Democrats are unfit to govern.
2 posted on 05/21/2003 6:04:23 AM PDT by hobbes1 ( Hobbes1TheOmniscient® "I know everything so you don't have to" ;)
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To: Interloper
Hmm. Janet Reno killed it. Surprise, surprise.
3 posted on 05/21/2003 6:04:34 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo
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To: Thane_Banquo
I doubt she made any significant decisions without consulting Clinton first, at least one of them.
4 posted on 05/21/2003 6:05:33 AM PDT by rockinonritalin
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To: rockinonritalin
No decision that important is made OUTSIDE of the Oval Office.


5 posted on 05/21/2003 6:06:57 AM PDT by hobbes1 ( Hobbes1TheOmniscient® "I know everything so you don't have to" ;)
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To: Interloper
killed by then-Attorney General Janet Reno

Why couldn't the nasty old hag kill THIS one? But NOOOO...terrorists got a free ride while little kids died.

6 posted on 05/21/2003 6:07:42 AM PDT by petuniasevan (I'm hitting the control key but it's not giving me any!)
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To: Interloper
By golly, it's a good thing there are a bunch of Clinton books coming out soon to spin the truth about his pathetic administration.
7 posted on 05/21/2003 6:07:56 AM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer (The democRATS are near the tipping point.)
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To: Thane_Banquo
Considering the Reno was continuously taking the blame for Waco, I am not surprised that she was gun shy about another projected surgical strike. It's also worth remembering how many other time US intelligence about the whereabouts of Bin Ladin, Ghaddafi, Saddam, etc., had been wrong.
8 posted on 05/21/2003 6:08:09 AM PDT by DonQ
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To: Interloper
"...this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant."

In hindsight, leaving him there was too dangerous, and lead to a real significant loss of life.

9 posted on 05/21/2003 6:09:16 AM PDT by theDentist (So. This is Virginia.... where are all the virgins?)
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To: hobbes1
What was Mansoor's story? I think I missed his latest.
10 posted on 05/21/2003 6:10:06 AM PDT by Interloper
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To: Interloper
Clinton was probably waiting for another intern problem he could use military action for, so we would be distracted yet again.
11 posted on 05/21/2003 6:10:37 AM PDT by yonif
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To: DonQ
It’s for the children.................oops sorry that was Waco!
12 posted on 05/21/2003 6:11:24 AM PDT by Lockbox
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To: Interloper
Wonder if this is the story that slick willie was referring to when he said he didn't allow the attack because OBL was surrounded by 200 women and children.

If we have any luck at all, these stories will be the undoing of the grifter regime much as the NYT is melting down before our eyes.

13 posted on 05/21/2003 6:11:47 AM PDT by OldFriend (without the brave, there would be no land of the free)
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To: Interloper
"They came to the decision that this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant," Cloonan said. There was concern that people around the bin Laden compound would be killed."

No such concern for US Citizens, the real clinton/reno/ snowe legacy.

14 posted on 05/21/2003 6:11:49 AM PDT by 2timothy3.16
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To: Interloper
"They came to the decision that this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant," Cloonan said. There was concern that people around the bin Laden compound would be killed."

In a Democrat administration, only Americans and Balkans at the discretion of Europe are allowed to die.

15 posted on 05/21/2003 6:12:02 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Beware of Doug.)
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To: Interloper
not the latest, just his particular story, 3 deals with the Sudan to extradite OBL....quashed by the administration.
16 posted on 05/21/2003 6:13:36 AM PDT by hobbes1 ( Hobbes1TheOmniscient® "I know everything so you don't have to" ;)
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To: Thane_Banquo
Hmm. Janet Reno killed it. Surprise, surprise.

There weren't enough children in the compound to make it worth her while.

17 posted on 05/21/2003 6:13:42 AM PDT by tbpiper
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To: DonQ
Reno had no problem authorizing men in black carrying rifles to enter the home of a little Cuban boy named Elian. The people sitting and praying outside the home were sprayed with tear gas and terrorized.

A little boy, so much more dangerous to our national security than Osama Ben Laden.

What say you, democrats who elected this scum, twice.

18 posted on 05/21/2003 6:13:51 AM PDT by OldFriend (without the brave, there would be no land of the free)
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To: Interloper
Plan to Capture Bin Laden Before 9/11 Was Called Off

The leftstream media are at it again!

This headline makes it appear as if it was President Bush that called off an attempt to get OBL.

It is only when one reads the article you learn it was a plan FIVE YEARS AGO, when the Unmentionable One was President.

Dispicable media spin.

19 posted on 05/21/2003 6:14:01 AM PDT by Chairman_December_19th_Society (Conservatives aren't perfect, we're just right.)
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To: Interloper
Plan to Capture Bin Laden Before 9/11 Was Called Off

Typical twisted ABC headline. Makes it sound like this happened just before 9/11, implicating the current administration. It's not until far down in the article that it's clear that this was under Clinton's watch.

No, there's no bias in the "mainstream media"

20 posted on 05/21/2003 6:14:20 AM PDT by Phsstpok
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
My goodness! An entire article about planned operations to battle terrorism and the name "Clinton" was not mentioned once? How could this be? That man sure could delegate.......
21 posted on 05/21/2003 6:15:27 AM PDT by blackdog (Tag Line was where I stood in the second grade)
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To: Interloper
I heard ABC's correspondent give this report on GMA earlier today. What struck me was the fact that at no time was the name Clinton evoked ... he talked about the Janet Reno justice department. Rest assured had it been the Bush justice department, or any Republican justice deptartment, the President's name would be front and center. Guaranteed ...
22 posted on 05/21/2003 6:17:28 AM PDT by BluH2o
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To: backhoe
Toon legacy bump.
23 posted on 05/21/2003 6:17:35 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: Thane_Banquo
She was too busy organizing federal raids of private residences in Miami that protected the little Elian from being sent back to Communist Cuba.
24 posted on 05/21/2003 6:19:13 AM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Kim Jong Il had ANOTHER bad underwear day . He found "decapitate" in his English-Korean dictionary.)
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To: BluH2o
Brian Ross did a report on ABC's nightly news last night on the Oil For Food program that I thought was pretty soft on the UN. Ross also never mentioned France's role in the scam, the money in a French bank, or the fact that the UN was getting a fee for running the program. All in all, pretty disappointing unless he's going to follow it up. I used to keep an eye peeled for Ross's reports, but FOX's Eric Shawn has been doing much better investigative reporting on this topic by far.
25 posted on 05/21/2003 6:20:44 AM PDT by mewzilla
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: Thane_Banquo
"Hmm. Janet Reno killed it. Surprise, surprise."

""...the loss of life on the ground would have been significant," Cloonan said. There was concern that people around the bin Laden compound would be killed..."

Note that Janet Draino wasn't concerned about loss of AMERICAN lives in the raid. Given her propensity for "offing" American citizens, I'm not surprised.

27 posted on 05/21/2003 6:23:04 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Interloper
Thanks for posting this.

Jake Reno, the Yeti/Wookie Lesbo Amazon, worked 24/7 to protect the enemies of America.

Remember during this time she was trying to dismantle the terrible and dangerous enemy, Bill Gates/Micosoft. Massive amounts of Justice Department resources were squandered trying to smash Gates or force him over to the Dark Side.

Then, Jake worked behind the scenes in situations like this to protect the real enemies of America, both from outside and within America.
28 posted on 05/21/2003 6:23:49 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (Has The NY Slimes ever printed the truth in your life time?)
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To: OldFriend
It's like everyone in the Clinton Admin was running for office in Brussels, Belgium. In order to be seen as a player in global governance it was required to kick the United States in full view, like Waco, Elian Gonzales, Somalia debacle, Gutting the CIA, Panama Canal handover to Hutchinson Wampoa, etc...... But yet openly give a free pass on any interests to foreigners outside the United States.

There can be no other explanation for Clinton Admin conduct. They actually thought the world outside the US would worship them and enrich them for all eternity. It looks like Bubba got the goodies while the rest were hung out to dry.

29 posted on 05/21/2003 6:24:46 AM PDT by blackdog (Tag Line was where I stood in the second grade)
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To: Interloper
Careful people. This might be another attempt by the Clinton worshippers to prove that his administration was working hard to get bin Laden. Funny how Attorney General Reno is blamed for killing the plan to get Osama, and not Clinton.

The Clinton worshippers will tear down ANYONE, including themselves, to glorify their God, CLINTON. He is to blame for why we did not get bin Laden when we should/could have (pre 9/11).
30 posted on 05/21/2003 6:27:12 AM PDT by pittsburgh gop guy (now serving eastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.......)
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To: Interloper
They came to the decision that this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant

But she had no problem sending in domestic para-military troops into Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Miami.... where American children were in danger.

31 posted on 05/21/2003 6:28:44 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (When news breaks, we fix it!)
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To: Thane_Banquo
Hmm. Janet Reno killed it. Surprise, surprise.

Janet Reno (Rhino) Only goes after defenseless Women & Chirren..."Operation Showtime" and/or little cuban boys washed-up on our shores & then hands them over to Castros' Goons.

32 posted on 05/21/2003 6:29:23 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (Just because your paranoid,doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. :)
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To: Interloper
Truly sickening! This what happens when the "Clampitts" get into the Whitehouse. We already knew that Reno was a loser, and totally unfit for the position. Everyone one of these people should be taken out behind the woodshed and given "three behind the ear".
33 posted on 05/21/2003 6:29:48 AM PDT by dagoofyfoot
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To: Interloper
This smells of Clinton. Reno is just the scapegoat for the attempted legacy.
34 posted on 05/21/2003 6:29:56 AM PDT by b4its2late (Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.)
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To: blackdog
My goodness! An entire article about planned operations to battle terrorism and the name "Clinton" was not mentioned once? How could this be? That man sure could delegate.......

Yes, but, didn't BClinton specifically say he had a plan to get Bin Laden. Seems reports of that plan under Clinton's name were circulating about a year ago.

Any thing associated with B or H Clinton should also be associated with the term hoodwinked. They were/are good at it.
35 posted on 05/21/2003 6:31:03 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: tbpiper
There weren't enough children in the compound to make it worth her while.

Ouch...good one!... :)

36 posted on 05/21/2003 6:32:15 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (Just because your paranoid,doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. :)
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To: Interloper; Alamo-Girl
More ...

CLINTON LEGACY

37 posted on 05/21/2003 6:37:16 AM PDT by Jeff Head
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To: Interloper
Clowntoon probably told them to put the plan on hold until he could use it to get another scandal off the front page, but the opportunity passed before that happened.
38 posted on 05/21/2003 6:39:19 AM PDT by steve-b
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To: Explorer89
If you have the time, read the whole thread. Lots of good comments in here.
39 posted on 05/21/2003 6:45:17 AM PDT by MrConfettiMan (#include <stdio.h> int main(int argc,char * argv[]) { printf("Hello, Free Republic!\n"); return 0; })
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To: Interloper
When you consider why Reno was chosen by the Clintons and the harm that Reno did to this nation, it is clear that she was more than the incompetent person which Washington insiders such as Tony Snow like to indicate. She was evil and her evil was connected to her immorality, another "unmentionable" that Washington insiders have decided may not be discussed.
40 posted on 05/21/2003 6:47:37 AM PDT by AmericanVictory
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To: theDentist
"...this plan was probably too dangerous, that the loss of life on the ground would have been significant." So Janet, why didn't you pursue this line of thinking at Waco? Incidentally, what kind of loss of life on the ground are we talking about, A.Q. terrorists?
41 posted on 05/21/2003 6:47:44 AM PDT by anoldafvet (Freedom isn't free, it's the most costly gift you'll ever receive.)
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To: Interloper
federal agents seeking bin Laden had developed a plan to have a plane fly in and attack a compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan,

Call me a skeptic. But when did the FBI develop a Special Ops team capable of a mission such as this?

This assignment would require Delta Force or Rangers, not G-men.

42 posted on 05/21/2003 6:48:04 AM PDT by Michael.SF. ('I'm voting Republican, the democrats left a bad taste in my mouth.' - M. Lewinsky)
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To: pittsburgh gop guy
This might be another attempt by the Clinton worshippers to prove that his administration was working hard to get bin Laden. Funny how Attorney General Reno is blamed for killing the plan to get Osama, and not Clinton.

Yup, lay it at the door of the feeble Reno, ring the doorbell....and run.
43 posted on 05/21/2003 6:48:55 AM PDT by mr.pink
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To: Interloper
Bin Laden? No. An American religious cult? Yes.
44 posted on 05/21/2003 6:50:20 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Jeff Head
Thank you so much for linking the Downside Legacy! Hugs!
45 posted on 05/21/2003 6:51:46 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: OldFriend; oldglory
"What say you, democrats who elected this scum, twice."

The same thing they always say. They will defend Clinton, et.al., to the bitter end --- because they know that it is really themselves they are attempting to defend.

They can run --- but they can't hide. His legacy is their legacy, and they know it. And they can't stand the thought that we know it, too.

They will never give up trying to rehabiltate their legacy by trying to rehab his.

But it won't work. We only know the tip of the iceberg so far, concerning the long-term damage that Clinton and the DemocRATS have done to this country.

46 posted on 05/21/2003 7:20:20 AM PDT by Matchett-PI (Marxist DemocRATS, Nader-Greens, and Militant Islam are a clear and present danger to our Freedoms.)
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To: Interloper
Starting in early 1996, a team of FBI and CIA agents was secretly sent to an unmarked office in a nondescript building off the Beltway in Alexandria, Va. It was called Alex Station, and it was the center of a U.S. government operation to capture bin Laden. Cloonan was one of 13 FBI agents from New York who was part of Alex Station.

I assume that Henry Waxman is calling for an investigation into the cost of this since it's obvious that it had no purpose except to make it look as if the former administration was trying to do something which they had neither the guts, the resolve, nor the integrity to carry out.

47 posted on 05/21/2003 7:25:24 AM PDT by kayak (Do not bet against the success of freedom. - GWB 5/9/03)
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To: Interloper
interesting this story pops up right after Clinton chirped about Bush this week - hehehehe
48 posted on 05/21/2003 7:30:19 AM PDT by Revelation 911 (Orcae Ita!)
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Comment #49 Removed by Moderator

To: Interloper
bump
50 posted on 05/21/2003 8:00:12 AM PDT by fightinJAG
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