A former Polish spy claims that the CIA refused to act on information to kill or thwart Osama bin Laden at least twice before 2001, Roy Gutman of McClatchy Newspapers reports. In the book Ferreting Out bin Laden, ex-spy Alexander Makowski details how the CIA balked at an offer to kill bin Laden in Afghanistan in late 1999 and blames the CIA for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
Makowski writes that he was the go-between in late 1999 when a group of Afghans loyal to anti-Taliban guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud proposed assassinating bin Laden with car bombs in exchange for the $5 million reward the Clinton Administration had offered for the Saudi dissident’s capture.
“They gave us the exact location of the houses where bin Laden would be staying in Kandahar, the route he would be taking between his living quarters, his meeting place, and what kind of transportation he would be using,” Makowski told McClatchy.
But on Oct. 14, 1999, a CIA officer flew to Warsaw and told top Polish intelligence officials (along with Makowski) that the CIA did not “have a licence to kill,” that they would have to “capture bin Laden safe and sound so that he can stand trial and be sentenced legally” and that the “CIA operates within the American legal order.”
Makowski—who spent 20 years in the Polish espionage service and rose to the rank of colonel—also blames the CIA for the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors.
“Beginning in 1999, for almost a year, we started giving information that bin Laden had made a decision to prepare an operation to attack U.S. warships in the Gulf,” Makowski told McClatchy. “There was a 27-person team… We told them who its leader was, his passport number [and] his Dubai identity card.”
About three months before the attack, according to Makowski, the CIA said they thought “such an attack is impossible.”
Gutman notes that Makowski’s former colleague Gromoslaw Czempinski—a legend at the CIA for leading the rescue of six U.S. intelligence officers from Iraq in 1990—vouched for his story.
Czempinski told McClatchy: “We offered them bin Laden, but they refused.”
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