Bill Clinton, in that Fox News interview
OK, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black Hawk down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaida was a growing concern in October of ‘93.
Not a living soul in the world... except for President Clinton's own Justice Department. The U.S. Justice Department's indictment of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda's military commander, Mohammed Atef, on Nov. 4, 1998, for conspiring to kill Americans:
* ...Third, al Qaeda opposed the involvement of the United States armed forces in the Gulf War in 1991 and in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992 and 1993, which were viewed by al Qaeda as pretextual preparations for an American occupation of Islamic countries....
* ...At various times from at least as early as 1989, the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN, and others known and unknown, provided training camps and guesthouses in various areas, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Somalia and Kenya for the use of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups.
The Fatwah Against American Troops in Somalia
At various times from in or about 1992 until in or about 1993, the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN, working together with members of the fatwah committee of al Qaeda, disseminated fatwahs to other members and associates of al Qaeda that the United States forces stationed in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, should be attacked;
The Establishment of Training Camps for Somalia
In or about late 1992 and 1993, the defendant MUHAMMAD ATEF traveled to Somalia on several occasions for the purpose of determining how best to cause violence to the United States and United Nations military forces stationed there and reported back to the defendant USAMA BIN LADEN and other al Qaeda members at USAMA BIN LADENS's facilities located in Khartoum, the Sudan;
Beginning in or about early spring 1993, al Qaeda members, including the defendants MUHAMMAD ATEF, SAIF AL ADEL, ABDULLAH AHMED ABDULLAH, a/k/a/ "Abu Mohamed el Masry," ... along with "Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri," a co-conspirator not named herein as a defendant, provided military training and assistance to Somali tribes opposed to the United Nations' intervention in Somalia;
The Attacks on the United States Forces in Somalia
w. On October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, persons who had been trained by al Qaeda (and by trainers trained by al Qaeda) participated in an attack on United States military personnel serving in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope, which attack resulted in the killing of 18 United States Army personnel, namely, Donovan L. Briley, Daniel D. Busch, James M. Cavaco, William D. Cleveland, Thomas J. Field, Earl Fillmore, Raymond Frank, Gary I. Gordon, James C. Joyce, Richard W. Kowalski, James Martin, Timothy Martin, Dominick M. Pilla, Matthew L. Rierson, Lorenzo M. Ruiz, Randall D. Shughart, James E. Smith, and Clifton Wolcott.
This was determined in 1998.
UPDATE: TKS reader Tom notes with a wink, Clinton is talking about "Osama", the indictment is for "Usama." Clearly, I didn't look closely enough at the definition of "is."
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn for one of the quickest Instalanches I've seen in a long time. I imagine many regular readers already have Voting to Kill, but boy, if you haven't, circumstances like these are why I think it's such a solid book. A big chunk of Chapter Six is looking at Clinton and the way he handled terrorism in the 1990s - including a lot of terror attacks we've forgotten about:
Five days after Clinton took office, Mir Aimal Kasi shot two Central Intelligence Agency employees in their cars while waiting in the morning traffic outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The attack left three other people wounded. (To their credit, they caught this guy.)
On March 8, 1994, two unidentified gunmen killed two U.S. diplomats and wounded a third in Karachi, Pakistan.
On November 13, 1995, a bomb was set off in a van parked in front of an American-run military training center in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, killing five Americans and two Indians.
On February 23, 1997, Ali Abu Kamal, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from the United States, Argentina, Switzerland, and France before turning the gun on himself. A handwritten note carried by the gunman claimed this was a punishment attack against the “enemies of Palestine.”
On November 12, 1997, two unidentified gunmen shot to death four U.S. auditors from Union Texas Petroleum Corporation and their Pakistani driver after they drove away from the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. The Islami Inqilabi Council, or Islamic Revolutionary Council, claimed responsibility in a call to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
On December 28, 1998, Yemeni militants kidnapped a group of western tourists, including 12 Britons, 2 Americans, and 2 Australians on the main road to Aden. Four victims were killed during a rescue attempt the next day.
These incidents may not technically be al-Qaeda, but they all point to a general Islamist/jihadist/Islamofascist mentality behind them. And this doesn't get into the odd suicidal pilot who took down EgyptAir Flight 990 on October 31, 1999. No official tie to terrorism has ever been determined, but I can't help but wonder... There are a lot of ways to commit suicide; taking down an airliner intentionally takes 216 other men, women and children with you. One doesn’t need to go through a training camp in Afghanistan to be a terrorist; for all we know, some jihadist could have had tea with the pilot and inspired the idea. The mysterious crash of Flight 990 is one of those events that just looks and feels different after 9/11.
I learned a lot putting together this book, perhaps no fact more shocking than all of these "little" terrorist incidents that occurred during the 1990s, and how little I remembered them. The Empire State Building attack, by the way, did spur a national debate... about gun control.
America sleepwalked through the first years of our enemies' war; it's hard to shake the feeling that our elected leaders had no interest in waking us from our blissfully ignorant stupor.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A few readers say that Clinton's statement can be interpreted as saying, "There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaida was a growing concern in October of ‘93." In other words, at the time, nobody knew the attack was connected to bin Laden. (By the way, I would argue that the wording of Clinton's statement makes it sound like he's trying to deny that bin Laden was /is tied to the events in Somalia.)
Interesting. I've found, in Lexis-Nexis, as recently as 1994:
Associated Press Worldstream
August 24, 1994; Wednesday 16:40 Eastern Time
SECTION: International news
LENGTH: 311 words
HEADLINE: Alleged Islamic Terrorist Chief May Have Fled Sudan
DATELINE: MANAMA, Bahrain
A reported leader of Islamic terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, may have left his exile in Sudan, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian of Yemeni descent, was headed to London, reported Al-Khaleej, which is based in Sharjah, part of the United Arab Emirates...
...Bin Laden was a confidant and a bankroller of Sheik Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan's leading fundamentalist and the real power behind the country's government.
His family originally came from southern Yemen, and emigrated decades ago to Saudi Arabia where they amassed a fortune from the construction business and became one of the country's wealthiest families.
Bin Laden reportedly has used his family's wealth to finance a number of extremist Islamic organizations.
He has been cited in Yemen as the leader of fundamentalist terrorists who bombed two hotels in Aden in December 1992 in which two Austrian tourists were killed.
The bombings narrowly missed 100 U.S. servicemen en route to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope.
So as early as 1994, the media knew that bin Laden had been aiming for foreigners and U.S. military forces involved with Operation Restore Hope in Somalia; it's not unreasonable to think the intelligence community could have, should have, and may have known a significant time earlier.
But I will keep digging to see when the U.S. first got the sense that bin Laden and his cronies were active in Somalia during that time.