U.S. Didn’t Target Bin Laden in 1999 Because He Was Meeting With UAE Royal Family

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"U.S. Didn’t Target Bin Laden in 1999 Because He Was Meeting With UAE Royal Family"

Dubai World Ports is controlled by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. Atrios notes this morning that former CIA director Tenet told the 9/11 commission that the United States did not target Bin Laden at a camp in Afghanistan in February 1999 because he was meeting with the UAE royal family.

Here are some more details on the incident from the 9/11 commission. Here’s Tenet’s March 24, 2004 testimony:

MR. TENET:…The third complicating factor here is, you might have wiped out half the royal family in the UAE in the process, which I’m sure entered into everybody’s calculation in all this.

More details from the 9/11 Staff Report:

On February 8, the military began to ready itself for a possible strike. The next day, national technical intelligence confirmed the location and description of the larger camp and showed the nearby presence of an official aircraft of the United Arab Emirates. But the location of Bin Ladin’s quarters could not be pinned down so precisely…According to reporting from the tribals, Bin Ladin regularly went from his adjacent camp to the larger camp where he visited the Emiratis; the tribals expected him to be at the hunting camp for such a visit at least until midmorning on February 11…No strike was launched. By February 12 Bin Ladin had apparently moved on, and the immediate strike plans became moot. According to CIA and Defense officials, policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with Bin Ladin or close by.

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke expressed concern about the UAE royal family’s relationship with Bin Laden:

On March 7, 1999, Clarke called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and Bin Ladin…The United Arab Emirates was becoming both a valued counterterrorism ally of the United States and a persistent counterterrorism problem…

This information only underscores why the administration should have fully investigated the sale, as required by law, before approving it.

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