Judicial Watch Obtains Newly Declassified Information from State Department regarding Osama bin Laden
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained newly declassified information regarding Osama bin Laden. The State Department had previously redacted this information on documents released to Judicial Watch in August 2005 prompting Judicial Watch’s appeal to the Department of State Appeals Review Panel on October 13, 2005. The new information was released by the State Department on August 5, 2008.
According to a document entitled, “Terrorism/Usama bin Ladin: Who’s Chasing Whom?” dated July 18, 2006, the Clinton administration was aware of a bin Laden suicide car bombing threat in London: “[redacted] . . . indicated bin Ladin planned to sponsor suicide car bombings against US interests in the UK, in part to punish London for ‘submitting’ to US pressure to bar his entry into the UK.” The information about the terrorist threats to London had previously been redacted.
New information in the documents also suggests the leadership of Sudan, President Al Bashir and Hassan Turabi, had nefarious ties with bin Laden: “National Islamic Front (NIF) leader Turabi…agreed to the expulsing of terrorist financier Usama bin Ladin on the condition that in the future he be allowed to return…. Turabi and President Bashin hoped that when bin Ladin visited he would use false documentation and provincial airports…to avoid publicity.”
The documents discuss bin Laden’s travels, his prolonged stay in Afghanistan, financial networks, anti-Western threats in press interviews, his ties to the Khobar Towers bombing and his “emboldened” threats against U.S. interests.
The State Department documents were first produced to Judicial Watch in August, 2005, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the State Department on December 11, 2001 concerning the government of Sudan’s reported offer to share intelligence files on bin Laden. The Clinton administration also rebuffed an offer by Sudanese officials to turn bin Laden over to the U.S.
According to the declassified documents, bin Laden’s many passports and his private plane allow him considerable freedom to travel “with little fear of being intercepted or tracked.” Bin Laden reportedly even traveled to London where he gave a press interview subsequent to his departure from Sudan. The report also warns that bin Laden’s prolonged stay in Afghanistan “could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum.” The intelligence predicts that even if bin Laden were forced to keep on the move, it would prove no more than an inconvenience since, “. . . his informal and transnational network of businesses and associates remains resilient.” The report goes on to explain that bin Ladin on the move, “. . .can retain the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack U.S. interests almost worldwide.”
“Over five years before 9/11, the Clinton administration was warned about bin Laden’s murderous intent – including specific threats to attack U.S. interests through suicide car bombings in London. And yet the Clinton administration took no meaningful action against bin Laden,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As a result of this inaction, not only did 9/11 come to pass, but so did massive suicide bombings in London’s Underground in 2005.”