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rickheel Offline
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Revealed: The Taliban minister, the US envoy and the warning of September 11 that was ignored
By Kate Clark in Kabul
07 September 2002
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Revealed: The Taliban minister, the US envoy and the warning of September 11 that was ignored

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Weeks before the terrorist attacks on 11 September, the United States and the United Nations ignored warnings from a secret Taliban emissary that Osama bin Laden was planning a huge attack on American soil.

The warnings were delivered by an aide of Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the Taliban Foreign Minister at the time, who was known to be deeply unhappy with the foreign militants in Afghanistan, including Arabs.

Mr Muttawakil, now in American custody, believed the Taliban's protection of Mr bin Laden and the other al-Qa'ida militants would lead to nothing less than the destruction of Afghanistan by the US military. He told his aide: "The guests are going to destroy the guesthouse."

The minister then ordered him to alert the US and the UN about what was going to happen. But in a massive failure of intelligence, the message was disregarded because of what sources describe as "warning fatigue". At the same time, the FBI and the CIA failed to take seriously warnings that Islamic fundamentalist students had enrolled in flight schools across the US.

Mr Muttawakil's aide, who has stayed on in Kabul and who has to remain anonymous for his security, described in detail to The Independent how he alerted first the Americans and then the United Nations of the coming calamity of 11 September.

The minister learnt in July last year that Mr bin Laden was planning a "huge attack" on targets inside America, the aide said. The attacks were imminent and would be so deadly the United States would react with destructive rage.

Mr bin Laden had been in Afghanistan since May 1996, bringing his three wives, 13 children and Arab fighters. Over time he became a close ally of the obscurantist Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Mr Muttawakil learnt of the coming attacks on America not from other members of the Taliban leadership, but from the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tahir Yildash. The organisation was one of the fundamentalist groups that had found refuge on Afghan soil, lending fighters for the Taliban's war on the Northern Alliance and benefiting from good relations with al-Qa'ida in its fight against the Uzbek government.

According to the emissary, Mr Muttawakil emerged from a one-to-one meeting with Mr Yildash looking shocked and troubled. Until then, the Foreign Minister, who had disapproved of the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Bamian earlier in the year, had no inkling from others in the Taliban leadership of what Mr bin Laden was planning.

"At first Muttawakil wouldn't say why he was so upset," said the aide. "Then it all came out. Yildash had revealed that Osama bin Laden was going to launch an attack on the United States. It would take place on American soil and it was imminent. Yildash said Osama hoped to kill thousands of Americans."

At the time, 19 members of al-Qa'ida were in situ in the US waiting to launch what would be the deadliest foreign attack on the American mainland.

The emissary went first to the Americans, travelling across the border to meet the consul general, David Katz, in the Pakistani border town of Peshawar, in the third week of July 2001. They met in a safehouse belonging to an old mujahedin leader who has confirmed to The Independent that the meeting took place.

Another US official was also present
09-07-2002 04:06 AM
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Tenmile Offline
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Accurate intelligence data are devilishly hard to validate and use before the fact, and equally hard to explain why they weren't validated and responded to afterwards. There's so much garbage to sort through, and this is a case in point. The aide who passed this info to the U.S. gave no specifics that could be easily validated, and didn't reveal the source of the information. All for very good reasons, surely, but all leaving intellingence experts with an almost useless "tip."
09-07-2002 05:47 AM
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Oriorip5 Offline
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My grandfather used to be in the CIA. The first thing he told me when this happened was:

"We should have known about it before it happened. There was a HUGE breakdown in intelligence to allow it."
09-07-2002 12:14 PM
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rickheel Offline
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Was it a breakdown because of poor workmanship, or too small of a workforce?

<small>[ September 07, 2002, 01:22 PM: Message edited by: rickheel ]</small>
09-07-2002 12:21 PM
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