Blogs of War

Hizballah Cavalcade

Internet Haganah



Kremlin Trolls

Making Sense of Jihad

Selected Wisdom

Views from the Occident


American Terrorists

Anwar Awlaki

Al Qaeda


American Al Qaeda Members

Inspire Magazine

Revolution Muslim


News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, November 7, 2008

U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001

Taliban Warned By Powell That Afghanistan Would Be Held Responsible For Harboring Terrorists Who Killed Americans

By J.M. Berger

Less than three months before September 11, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned the Taliban that American intelligence had "high confidence" that "Afghan-based and other operatives are now planning on carrying out attacks against Americans."

Powell's warning was conveyed to the Taliban by U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam, who specifically discussed Osama bin Laden with the Taliban's representative Abdul Salam Zaeef.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Zaeef was arrested as an "unlawful combatant" and detained at Guantanamo Bay for three years before being released into house arrest in Afghanistan.

Two cables obtained by INTELWIRE under the Freedom of Information Act detail the warnings, as well as the specific concern about an impending attack against the United States.

A June 27, 2001, demarche from Powell outlined several specific warnings of consequences for the Taliban, which the U.S. would later fulfill. The language of the communication strongly foreshadows the "Bush doctrine" which would emerge after 9/11.

According to the communication, the Taliban were told:

  • "We believe that Afghan-based and other operatives are now planning on carrying out attacks against Americans. We have a high degree of confidence in the seriousness of this threat.
  • "You should immediately put an end to these activities."
  • "We will hold you directly responsible for any actions against American citizens taken by the terrorists you harbor."
  • "You will also be held responsible by the international community for having harbored these terrorists."
  • "The U. S. reserves the right to defend itself."
  • "[The Taliban] will be held directly responsible for any loss of life that occurs from terrorist actions related to terrorists who have trained in Afghanistan or use Afghanistan as a base of planning or operations."

    Elsewhere in the communication, the threat is specified to pertain to "Americans abroad," but this does not appear to be specified in the segment communicated to Zaeef.

    During the actual meeting, Milam walked through each point slowly, "pausing after each one to ensure that the Taliban notetaker understood," according to a June 29, 2001 cable.

    Zaeef denied that the Taliban presented any threat to the U.S.

    Although the June 27 demarche did not mention bin Laden by name, it was clear to Zaeef that the message pertained to Al Qaeda. Zaeef told Milam that the Taliban hosted Osama bin Laden for "cultural" reasons and not because they shared his emnity toward the U.S.

    Zaeef lobbied for direct U.S. involvement in providing aid to Afghanistan, but Milam told him that was impossible "as long as Afghanistan continues to be a safehaven for terrorists."

    "There is no danger to a single American in Afghanistan," Zaeef told Milam.

    "We shall hold you to your word," Milam responded, concluding the meeting.

    The substance of the communication was also transmitted to the governments of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, who were each asked to repeat and emphasize the message to the Taliban.

    Interestingly, the Saudi government was not asked to transmit the same message despite a face-to-face meeting between Powell and then-Prince Abdullah just days later.

    That meeting focused mainly on Iraq and the Palestinian territories, according to a cable obtained by INTELWIRE, although the document was substantially redacted, leaving open the possibility bin Laden or the Taliban were discussed.

    6/27/2001: State Dept. cable, threats to U.S. by Bin Laden

    6/29/2001: State Dept. cable, threats to U.S. by Bin Laden

    7/5/2001: State Dept. cable, meeting with Saudi Prince Abdullah

    Labels: ,

    Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



    Tweets referencing this post:



    ", granular analysis..."

    ISIS: The State of Terror
    "Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

    More on ISIS: The State of Terror

    "...a timely warning..."

    Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
    "At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

    More on Jihad Joe


    INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


    Newest posts!

    An Unfunded Service

    Bosnia Veterans Sought For Interviews

    John McCain's Affiliation with the U.S. Council fo...

    American Civilians Killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ja...

    Al Qaeda Suspect Aafia Siddiqi Diagnosed With Depr...

    Aafia Siddiqui Psychiatric and Medical Reports

    Aafia Siddiqui Indictment

    Yet More Awakening Worries

    OKBOMB Documents: Strassmeir, Gamaat Islamiyah And...

    Rumbles Around Awakening


    New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim

    The Utility of Lone Wolves

    Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser

    A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds

    How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You

    PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement

    Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips

    Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums

    U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki

    State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh

    State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995

    FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs

    Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War

    U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001

    Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting