US Commander Franks denies hunt for Osama was "outsourced"

A former commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has denied a claim by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry that US troop had “oursourced” the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan’s eastern border region of Tora Bora in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora and I can tell you that the senator’s understanding of events doesn’t square with reality,” retired general Tommy Franks wrote in The New York Times. Kerry has repeatedly accused US President George W. Bush of surrendering the job of hunting for Osama to allied Afghan tribal leaders, who were unable to find the Al-Qaeda leader in the caves of the mountainous Tora Bora region in late 2001. Franks said he did not know to this day whether Osama was in Tora Bora in December 2001 to begin with. “Some intelligence sources said he was,” he wrote. “Others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time. Still others suggested he was in Kashmir.” According to Franks, the US military relied heavily on Afghan forces in that battle because they knew Tora Bora after fighting there for years against the Soviet occupation. “Third, the Afghans weren’t left to do the job alone,” the retired general continued. “Special forces from the United States and several other countries were there, providing tactical leadership and calling in air strikes.” Franks, a declared Bush supporter, said the president had “his eye on that ball” in conducting the “war on terror” while Senator Kerry did not. Tora Bora, around 50 kilometres south of the eastern city of Jalalabad, was believed to be the last strong holdout of Al-Qaeda fighters and remnants of their Taliban hosts, whose regime was toppled by US-backed forces in late 2001.Three years later, Osama and the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, are still eluding efforts by more than 10,000 US troops to capture them.Full Story

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