New Yorker profile of bin Laden from Jan '00
September 18, 2001 8:49 AM   Subscribe

New Yorker profile of bin Laden from Jan '00 Interesting background information on bin Laden from over a year ago.

"In a country that is obsessed with parentage, with who your great-grandfather was, Osama was almost a double outsider. His paternal roots are in Yemen, and, within the family, his mother was a double outsider as well—she was neither Saudi nor Yemeni but Syrian."

In his [bin Laden's] mind, the United States had become to Saudi Arabia what the Soviet Union had been to Afghanistan: an infidel occupation force propping up a corrupt, repressive, and un-Islamic government.

...that the more serious threat bin Laden poses to the interests of the United States lies in his ability to destabilize friendly Arab governments, such as Saudi Arabia's, whose support is geopolitically crucial to us.
posted by gen (6 comments total)

"The American war against bin Laden has affected United States policy throughout much of the Islamic world, particularly in South Asia and the Middle East. Memorably, on August 20, 1998, the Pakistani Army's chief of staff, General Jehangir Karamat, was playing host in Islamabad to his American counterpart, General Joseph Ralston, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Around ten o'clock in the evening, as the two men were having dinner, Ralston looked up from his chicken tikka, checked his watch, and informed his host that in ten minutes some sixty Tomahawk cruise missiles would be entering Pakistan's airspace. Their destination, he said, was Afghanistan, where bin Laden was believed to be operating four training camps. General Karamat was stunned, and appalled.

"It was a 'This is happening as we speak' kind of conversation," an American intelligence official told me. "Ralston was there, on the ground, to make absolutely certain that when the missiles flew across Pakistan's radar screen they would not be misconstrued as coming from India and, as a consequence, be shot down." The intelligence official paused for a moment, and then said, "This is one hell of a way to treat our friends."

By the following day, General Karamat's anger—and that of the government he served—had turned to rage. A number of the Tomahawks either had been poorly targeted or had not fallen where they were aimed. Two of the four training camps that were hit and destroyed, in the Zhawar Kili area of Afghanistan's Paktia province, were facilities of Pakistan's own intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I. According to a highly placed official, five I.S.I. officers and some twenty trainees were killed. The government of Pakistan was not only furious but embarrassed, because it had not been taken into Washington's confidence. Why had there been only ten minutes' notice? And why had General Karamat been notified, instead of the Prime Minister?

Pakistan wasn't our only affronted ally. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority—indeed, much of the Islamic world—expressed dismay. The United States had reason to be embarrassed as well. For, despite President Clinton's claim, in a televised address a few hours after the missile strikes, that a "gathering of key terrorist leaders" had been expected to take place at one of the target sites, bin Laden and his top lieutenants were more than a hundred miles away when the missiles struck. The meeting that Clinton referred to had occurred a month earlier, in Jalalabad.

Arrogant bigotry at its best. Pakistanis are mindful that an effort to compromise its nuclear capabilities can also be part of US plan now.

And they "expect" co-operation from Pakistan.
posted by adnanbwp at 9:25 AM on September 18, 2001

And ... what can they possibly expect from the Taliban? According to the New Yorker, Mullah Omar, the Taliban's leader, is married to one of OBL's daughters.
posted by coelecanth at 10:16 AM on September 18, 2001

adnanbwp: How would you know? There is only one side presented in the story. No one from the U.S. government is even interviewed about the situation or even consulted here, as far as I can tell.
posted by raysmj at 10:19 AM on September 18, 2001


It is easy. I was visiting Pakistan then. When in the morning we found out that a couple of TomHawks had landed in Pakistan territory. I dont think TomHawk tecnhology is as superior as they thought.

Secondly, I witnessed that our Government didnt have any information at all because the same night, I had gone to the airport to recieve my cousin. If the authorities had known, wouldnt they have closed airports and shutdown aerial activity ?
posted by adnanbwp at 10:59 AM on September 18, 2001

But you don't know if things occured exactly as the *one official* interviewed said.
posted by raysmj at 12:51 PM on September 18, 2001

This whole issue of the New Yorker online is breathtakingly informative and comprehensive. . .the photo essay will be worth the price of the mag when it comes out on the stands.
posted by Danf at 3:38 PM on September 18, 2001

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