This week (August 7 to be exact) marks the 25 th anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s attacks on the American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, resulting in over 200 deaths and over 4000 people wounded.
The terrorist attacks were carried out via truck bombings, and were coordinated by al-Qaeda operative Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. Salim was arrested the following month, and eventually was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. The attacks on both embassies put Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda into the spotlight, even though al-Qaeda had already carried out several terrorist attacks in the past, as well as Bin Laden declaring war on America.
In retaliation for the embassy bombings, on August 20, the United States launched Tomahawk Missiles at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and an Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (the latter of which was believed by American intelligence to be producing chemical weapons).
As it turned out, the intelligence reports on the Al-Shifa factory were notproducing chemical weapons. As for the strike against the al-Qaeda camp inAfghanistan (where Bin Laden was at), the missiles came too late. The reason?
The Clinton Administration decided to notify the Pakistani Government of thestrikes due to fears that such strikes would be seen as an attack from India(Pakistan’s enemy), thus possibly resulting in a war between both nations, especially since both of them had recently acquired nuclear weapons. But due to Pakistan’s intelligence agency the ISI having ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Bin Laden was warned of the impending missiles and thus managed to avoid being killed. American officials were apparently aware of the ISI’s ties to Taliban and al-Qaeda, and tried to inform the Pakistani Government as discretely as possible in
the hopes that any warning to Bin Laden would be too late. But that was not thecase, since a few minutes was all the time Bin Laden needed to escape.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was preoccupied with the investigation of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Although he had previously denied having an affair with her, he would admit to the affair in a nationally televised statement on August 17, several hours after he testified before a grand jury. And although he admitted that what he did was wrong, he never apologized for the scandal.
Instead, he asked the American people to put the scandal behind them, as well as emphasizing the important work he had to do.
But it was not to be. The House of Representatives impeached him on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, charges that he would be acquitted of by the Senate.
I remember my sister saying that Bill Clinton should have resigned the day he admitted to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, as well as my mother saying that the country was in crisis due to the scandal.
Meanwhile, Bin Laden was watching. And I’m sure he was licking his chops.
Thus, it is safe to say that Bill Clinton paved the way for 9/11.