US Met with Taliban about OBL in 1998

** More information surfaces on the Clinton Adminstration’s handling of OBL. **

From reports this week:

– The Clinton Administration was warned about Osama bin Laden in 1996.
– In August 1998 US Embassies were bombed in Kenya and Tanzania.
– Later in 1998, a Clinton Diplomat met with the Taliban and was told to liquidate OBL. The Taliban also threatened the US at this meeting.
– In 2000 Clinton officials again met with the Taliban in failed talks.
– It is still not clear what the Clinton officials did next, if anything.

The Daily Times of Pakistan today has printed more damning evidence against the Clinton Administration:

The US diplomat who met Taliban official Wakil Ahmed, an aide to Mulla Omar, was Alan Eastham Jr, the No 2 man at the US embassy in Islamabad. More than one meeting took place between the two in November and December of 1998, three years before the 9/11 attacks.

One of the cables sent out from Washington said, “The fact is that the leader of the Taliban appears to be strongly committed to Bin Laden. It is questionable whether US or Saudi efforts can influence Omar’s decisions”.

When Eastham asked Ahmed why the Taliban would not hand over Bin Laden to Washington, he replied that the Afghan people “would not understand why the Taliban had expelled a man who was regarded as a ‘great mujahid’ … during the war against the Soviets. They would reject the Taliban if the Taliban took this action”

CNN is also reporting on the disclosed State Department documents:

During secret meetings with U.S. officials in 1998, top Taliban officials discussed assassinating or expelling Osama bin Laden in response to al Qaeda’s deadly bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, according to State Department documents.

“If Kandahar could have retaliated with similar strikes against Washington, it would have,” Ahmed said, according to the documents.

“I consider you as murderers of Afghans,” Ahmed told Eastham. “The U.S. said bin Laden had killed innocent people, but had not the U.S. killed innocent Afghans in Khost too? Was this not a crime?”

But within a month, it was clear the Taliban had hardened its position. “We have little indication that anything we said got through to” Ahmed, a cable said about the December 19 meeting.

Bin Laden ‘most important

The documents indicate that bin Laden was clearly Washington’s priority with the Taliban in 1998 — rather than reported human rights violations by their Afghan government.

“The continued presence in Afghanistan of bin Laden and his network is by far the most important,” said a State Department cable sent on October 19, 1998.

These recorded talks include the threats of the Taliban towards Washington.

The State Department warned the administration of then president Bill Clinton back in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden’s move to Afghanistan would make him a bigger threat.

Also, in 2000 there was another meeting between Clinton officials and the Taliban. After this visit the Clinton official recommended doing a small favor for the Taliban to get them to cooperate:

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam held a secret meeting with an unidentified senior Taliban official in September 2000 and assured him that international sanctions on the Taliban would end if bin Laden were expelled from Afghanistan, newly declassified documents show.

In his 2000 diplomatic cable, Milam told his bosses the Taliban official had adopted a “far less obstreperous” tone than usually heard from the Taliban, and suggested the United States do some small favor for Afghanistan to show good will.

(Just as a point of reference this AP article, written by Anne Gearan, does proceed to claim the Afghanistan “invasion” has been a failure up to this point!)

Even though the Clinton Administration was told point blank by the Taliban, “If Kandahar could have retaliated with similar strikes against Washington, it would have,” there is no record of any action taken after this threat except another failed meeting in 2000.

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