1998 Missile Strikes on Bin Laden May Have Backfired
Extensive 1999 Report on Al-Qaeda Threat Released by U.S. Dept of Energy
Taliban Told U.S. They Wanted to Bomb Washington
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 253
Washington D.C., August 20, 2008 - On the tenth anniversary of U.S. cruise missile strikes against al-Qaeda in response to deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, newly-declassified government documents posted today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org) suggest the strikes not only failed to hurt Osama bin Laden but ultimately may have brought al-Qaeda and the Taliban closer politically and ideologically.
A 400-page Sandia National Laboratories report on bin Laden, compiled in 1999, includes a warning about political damage for the U.S. from bombing two impoverished states without regard for international agreement, since such action "mirror imag[ed] aspects of al-Qaeda's own attacks" [see pp. 18-22]. A State Department cable argues that although the August missile strikes were designed to provide the Taliban with overwhelming reason to surrender bin Laden, the military action may have sharpened Afghan animosity towards Washington and even strengthened the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance.
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