RealNews

Flawed Ally Was Hunt's Best Hope

Afghan Guerrilla, U.S. Shared Enemy. A team of CIA operators from the agency’s Counterterrorist Center flew to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in October 1999. Code-named JAWBREAKER-5, the group was led by the chief of the center’s Osama bin Laden unit, known to his colleagues as Rich, a veteran of CIA postings in Algiers and elsewhere in the developing world. They went to a secluded airfield, boarded an old Soviet-made Mi-17 transport helicopter, and swooped toward the jagged, snow-draped peaks of northern Afghanistan. Their aim was to revive secret intelligence and combat operations against bin Laden in partnership with guerrilla commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, a ragged coalition of Afghan fighters, many of them veterans of the war against the Soviets. Massoud’s hardened militiamen clung to their positions in the stark Panjshir Valley. “We have a common enemy,” the CIA team leader told Massoud, according to participants, referring to bin Laden. “Let’s work together.” Full Story

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