US military leaders allowed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden) to ‘walk unmolested out of Tora Bora‘ when he was within the reach of US troops, a Senate report reveals.
Staff members for the Democratic majority of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Forbes Kerry.
The Saturday report said that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden in December 2001 has had lasting consequences, according to the Associated Press.
Kerry has argued the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaeda leader and top deputies when they were holed up in the mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The report also sharply criticized mishandling of US military for capturing Osama bin Laden.
“Removing the al-Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat,” the report said.
“But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism.”
The report noted that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the US had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least.
It added that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants “removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora.”
On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards “walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area,” where he is still believed to be based, according to the report.
Fewer than 100 US commandos tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down their prey instead of a massive attack.
“The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines,” the report said.
Filed under: Censorship, Military Industrial Complex Tagged: | Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, John Kerry, Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, Pakistan, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Tora Bora