Evidence against bin Laden and Taliban
This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law. Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information available HMG is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.
Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities in the United States, 11 September 2001
1. The clear conclusions reached by the Government are: Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001;
Osama bin Laden and aI Qaeda retain the will and resources to carry out further atrocities;
The United Kingdom and United Kingdom nationals are potential targets; and Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were able to commit these atrocities because of their close alliance with the Taliban regime, which allowed them to operate with impunity in pursuing their terrorist activity.
2. The material in respect of 1998 and the USS Cole comes from indictments and intelligence sources. The material in respect of 11 September comes from intelligence and the criminal investigation to date. The details of some aspects cannot be given, but the facts are clear from the intelligence.
3. The document does not contain the totality of the material known to HMG, given the continuing and absolute need to protect intelligence sources.
4. The relevant facts show:
Al Qaeda is a terrorist organisation with ties to a global network, which has been in existence for over 10 years. It was founded, and has been led at all times, by Osama bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been engaged in a jihad against the United States, and its allies. One of their stated aims is the murder of US citizens, and attacks on America's allies.
Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda have been based in Afghanistan since 1996, but have a network of operations throughout the world. The network includes training camps, warehouses, communication facilities and commercial operations able to raise significant sums of money to support its activity. That activity includes substantial exploitation of the illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan.
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and the Taliban regime have a close and mutually dependent alliance. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda provide the Taliban regime with material, financial and military support. They jointly exploit the drugs trade. The Taliban regime allows Bin Laden to operate his terrorist training camps and activities from Afghanistan, protects him from attacks from outside, and protects the drugs stockpiles. Osama bin Laden could not operate his terrorist activities without the alliance and support of the Taliban regime. The Taliban's strength would be seriously weakened without Osama bin Laden's military and financial support.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have the capability to execute major terrorist attacks.
Osama bin Laden has claimed credit for the attack on US soldiers in Somalia in October, 1993, which killed 18; for the attack on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August, 1998, which killed 224 and injured nearly 5,000; and were linked to the attack on the USS Cole on 12 October, 2000, in which 17 crew members were killed and 40 others injured.
They have sought to acquire nuclear and chemical materials for use as terrorist weapons.
In relation to the terrorist attacks on 11 September
5. After 11 September we learned that not long before, Bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America. The detailed planning for the terrorist attacks of 11 September was carried out by one of UBL's close associates. Of the 19 hijackers involved in 11 September, 2001, it has already been established that at least three had links with al Qaeda. The attacks on 11 September 2001 were similar in both their ambition and intended impact to previous attacks undertaken by Osama bin Laden and aI Qaeda, and also had features in common. In particular:
Suicide attackers Co-ordinated attacks on the same day The aim to cause maximum American casualties. Total disregard for other casualties, including Muslim. Meticulous long-term planning
Absence of warning.
6. Al Qaeda retains the capability and the will to make further attacks on the US and its allies, including the United Kingdom.
7. al Qaeda gives no warning of terrorist attack.
THE FACTS Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda
8. In 1989 Osama bin Laden, and others, founded an international terrorist group known as "al Qaeda" (the Base). At all times he has been the leader of aI Qaeda.
9. From 1989 until 1991 Osama bin Laden was based in Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan. In 1991 he moved to Sudan, where he stayed until 1996. In that year he returned to Afghanistan, where he remains.
The Taliban Regime
10. The Taliban emerged from the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan in the early 1990s. By 1996 they had captured Kabul. They are still engaged in a bloody civil war to control the whole of Afghanistan. They are led by Mullah Omar.
11. In 1996 Osama bin Laden moved back to Afghanistan. He established a close relationship with Mullah Omar, and threw his support behind the Taliban. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime have a close alliance on which both depend for their continued existence. They also share the same religious values and vision.
12. Osama bin Laden has provided the Taliban regime with troops, arms, and money to fight the Northern Alliance. He is closely involved with Taliban military training, planning and operations. He has representatives in the Taliban military command structure. He has also given infrastructure assistance and humanitarian aid. Forces under the control of Osama bin Laden have fought alongside the Taliban in the civil war in Afghanistan.
13. Omar has provided Bin Laden with a safe haven in which to operate, and has allowed him to establish terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. They jointly exploit the Afghan drugs trade. In return for active al Qaeda support, the Taliban allow al Qaeda to operate freely, including planning, training and preparing for terrorist activity. In addition the Taliban provide security for the stockpiles of drugs.
14. Since 1996, when the Taliban captured Kabul, the United States government has consistently raised with them a whole range of issues, including humanitarian aid and terrorism. Well before 11 September 2001 they had provided evidence to the Taliban of the responsibility of aI Qaeda for the terrorist attacks in East Africa. This evidence had been provided to senior leaders of the Taliban at their request.
15. The United States government had made it clear to the Taliban regime that aI Qaeda had murdered US citizens, and planned to murder more. The US offered to work with the Taliban to expel the terrorists from Afghanistan. These talks, which have been continuing since 1996, have failed to produce any results.
16. In June 2001, in the face of mounting evidence of the aI Qaeda threat, the United States warned the Taliban that it had the right to defend itself and that it would hold the regime responsible for attacks against US citizens by terrorists sheltered in Afghanistan.
17. In this, the United States had the support of the United Nations. The Security Council, in Resolution 1267, condemned Osama bin Laden for sponsoring international terrorism and operating a network of terrorist camps and demanded that the Taliban surrender Osama bin Laden without further delay so that he could be brought to justice.
18. Despite the evidence provided by the US of the responsibility of Osama bin Laden and aI Qaeda for the 1998 East Africa bombings, despite the accurately perceived threats of further atrocities, and despite the demands of the United Nations, the Taliban regime responded by saying no evidence existed against Osama bin Laden, and that neither he nor his network would be expelled.
19. A former Government official in Afghanistan has described the Taliban and Osama bin Laden as "two sides of the same coin: Osama cannot exist in Afghanistan without the Taliban and the Taliban cannot exist without Osama".
20. AI Qaeda is dedicated to opposing "un-Islamic" governments in Muslim countries with force and violence.
21. AI Qaeda virulently opposes the United States. Osama bin Laden has urged and incited his followers to kill American citizens, in the most unequivocal terms.
22. On 12 October 1996 he issued a declaration of jihad as follows:
"The people of Islam have suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed by the Zionist-Crusader alliance and their collaborators...
"It is the duty now on every tribe in the Arabian peninsula to fight jihad and cleanse the land from these Crusader occupiers. Their wealth is booty to those who kill them.
"My Muslim brothers: your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the two Holy Places [i.e. Saudi Arabia] are calling upon your help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy - the Americans and the Israelis. They are asking you to do whatever you can to expel the enemies out of the sanctities of Islam."
Later in the same year he said that " terrorising the American occupiers [of Islamic Holy Places], is a religious and logical obligation".
In February 1998 he issued and signed a "fatwa" which included a decree to all Muslims:
"... the killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies is a religious duty for each and every Muslim to be carried out in whichever country they are until aI Aqsa mosque has been liberated from their grasp and until their armies have left Muslim lands".
In the same "fatwa" he called on Muslim scholars and their leaders and their youths to "launch an attack on the American soldiers of Satan" and concluded:
"We - with God's help - call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill Americans and plunder their money whenever and wherever they find it. We also call on Muslims... to launch the raid on Satan's US troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them."
When asked, in 1998, about obtaining chemical or nuclear weapons he said "acquiring such weapons for the defence of Muslims [was] a religious duty".
In an interview aired on AI Jazira (Doha, Qatar) television he stated: "Our enemy is every American male, whether he is directly fighting us or paying taxes."
In two interviews broadcast on US television in 1997 and 1998 he referred to the terrorists who carried out the earlier attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 as "role models". He went on to exhort his followers "to take the fighting to America".
23. From the early 1990s Osama bin Laden has sought to obtain nuclear and chemical materials for use as weapons of terror.
24. Although US targets are al Qaeda's priority, it also explicitly threatens the United States' allies. References to "Zionist-Crusader alliance and their collaborators", and to "Satan's US troops and the devil's supporters allying with them" are references which unquestionably include the United Kingdom.
25. There is a continuing threat. Based on our experience of the way the network has operated in the past, other cells, like those that carried out the terrorist attacks on 11 September, must be assumed to exist.
26. AI Qaeda functions both on its own and through a network of other terrorist organisations. These include Egyptian Islamic Jihad and other north African Islamic extremist terrorist groups, and a number of other jihadi groups in other countries including the Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and India. al Qaeda also maintains cells and personnel in a number of other countries to facilitate its activities.
27. Osama bin Laden heads the aI Qaeda network. Below him is a body known as the Shura, which includes representatives of other terrorist groups, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman Zawahiri and prominent lieutenants of Bin Laden such as Abu Hafs AI-Masri. Egyptian Islamic Jihad has, in effect, merged with aI Qaeda.
28. In addition to the Shura, aI Qaeda has several groups dealing with Military, media, financial and Islamic issues.
29. Mohamed Atef is a member of the group that deals with military and terrorist operations. His duties include principal responsibility for training al Qaeda members.
30. Members of al Qaeda must make a pledge of allegiance to follow the orders of Osama bin Laden.
31. A great deal of evidence about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda has been made available in the US indictment for earlier crimes.
32. Since 1989, Osama bin Laden has conducted substantial financial and business transactions on behalf of al Qaeda and in pursuit of its goals. These include purchasing land for training camps, purchasing warehouses for the storage of items, including explosives, purchasing communications and electronics equipment. and transporting currency and weapons to members of al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups in countries throughout the world.
33. Since 1989 Osama bin Laden has provided training camps and guest houses in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Somalia and Kenya for the use of al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups. We know from intelligence that there are currently at least a dozen camps across Afghanistan, of which at least four are used for training terrorists.
34. Since 1989, Osama bin Laden has established a series of businesses to provide income for al Qaeda, and to provide cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals, and for the travel of al Qaeda operatives. The businesses have included a holding company known as "Wadi AI Aqiq", a construction business known as "AI Hijra", an agricultural business known as "AI Themar AI Mubaraka", and investment companies known as "Ladin International" and "Taba Investments".