This document does not purport to
provide a prosecutable case against Usama Bin Laden in a court
of law. Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both
to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect
the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information
available HMG is confident of its conclusions as expressed in
FOR THE TERRORIST ATROCITIES IN
THE UNITED STATES, 11 SEPTEMBER 2001
1. The clear
conclusions reached by the government are:
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida, the terrorist network which he heads,
planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001;
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida retain the will and resources to carry
out further atrocities;
- the United
Kingdom, and United Kingdom nationals are potential targets;
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida were able to commit these atrocities
because of their close alliance with the Taleban régime,
which allowed them to operate with impunity in pursuing
their terrorist activity.
2. The material
in respect of 1998 and the USS Cole comes from
indictments and intelligence sources. The material in respect of
11 September comes from intelligence and the criminal
investigation to date. The details of some aspects cannot be
given, but the facts are clear from the intelligence.
3. The document
does not contain the totality of the material known to HMG,
given the continuing and absolute need to protect intelligence
4. The relevant
- Al Qaida is a
terrorist organisation with ties to a global network, which
has been in existence for over 10 years. It was founded, and
has been led at all times, by Usama Bin Laden.
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida have been engaged in a jihad against the
United States, and its allies. One of their stated aims is
the murder of US citizens, and attacks on America’s
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida have been based in Afghanistan since
1996, but have a network of operations throughout the world.
The network includes training camps, warehouses,
communication facilities and commercial operations able to
raise significant sums of money to support its activity.
That activity includes substantial exploitation of the
illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan.
- Usama Bin
Laden’s Al Qaida and the Taleban régime have a close and
mutually dependent alliance. Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida
provide the Taleban régime with material, financial and
military support. They jointly exploit the drugs trade. The
Taleban régime allows Bin Laden to operate his terrorist
training camps and activities from Afghanistan, protects him
from attacks from outside, and protects the drugs
stockpiles. Usama Bin Laden could not operate his terrorist
activities without the alliance and support of the Taleban régime.
The Taleban’s strength would be seriously weakened without
Usama Bin Laden’s military and financial support.
- Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida have the capability to execute major
- Usama Bin
Laden has claimed credit for the attack on US soldiers in
Somalia in October 1993, which killed 18; for the attack on
the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 which
killed 224 and injured nearly 5000; and were linked to the
attack on the USS Cole on 12 October 2000, in which
17 crew members were killed and 40 others injured.
- They have
sought to acquire nuclear and chemical materials for use as
In relation to
the terrorist attacks on 11 September
5. After 11
September we learned that, not long before, Bin Laden had
indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America. The
detailed planning for the terrorist attacks of 11 September was
carried out by one of UBL’s close associates. Of the 19
hijackers involved in 11 September 2001, it has already been
established that at least three had links with Al Qaida. The
attacks on 11 September 2001 were similar in both their ambition
and intended impact to previous attacks undertaken by Usama Bin
laden and Al Qaida, and also had features in common. In
attacks on the same day
- The aim to
cause maximum American casualties
disregard for other casualties, including Muslim
- Absence of
6. Al Qaida
retains the capability and the will to make further attacks on
the US and its allies, including the United Kingdom.
7. Al Qaida gives
no warning of terrorist attack.
Usama Bin Laden
and Al Qaida
8. In 1989 Usama
Bin Laden, and others, founded an international terrorist group
known as "Al Qaida" (the Base). At all times he has
been the leader of Al Qaida.
9. From 1989
until 1991 Usama Bin Laden was based in Afghanistan and
Peshawar, Pakistan. In 1991 he moved to Sudan, where he stayed
until 1996. In that year he returned to Afghanistan, where he
10. The Taleban
emerged from the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan in the early
1990s. By 1996 they had captured Kabul. They are still engaged
in a bloody civil war to control the whole of Afghanistan. They
are led by Mullah Omar.
11. In 1996 Usama
Bin Laden moved back to Afghanistan. He established a close
relationship with Mullah Omar, and threw his support behind the
Taleban. Usama Bin Laden and the Taleban régime have a close
alliance on which both depend for their continued existence.
They also share the same religious values and vision.
12. Usama Bin
Laden has provided the Taleban régime with troops, arms, and
money to fight the Northern Alliance. He is closely involved
with Taleban military training, planning and operations. He has
representatives in the Taleban military command structure. He
has also given infrastruture assistance and humanitarian aid.
Forces under the control of Usama Bin Laden have fought
alongside the Taleban in the civil war in Afghanistan.
13. Omar has
provided Bin Laden with a safe haven in which to operate, and
has allowed him to establish terrorist training camps in
Afghanistan. They jointly exploit the Afghan drugs trade. In
return for active Al Qaida support, the Taleban allow Al Qaida
to operate freely, including planning, training and preparing
for terrorist activity. In addition the Taleban provide security
for the stockpiles of drugs.
14. Since 1996,
when the Taleban captured Kabul, the United States government
has consistently raised with them a whole range of issues,
including humanitarian aid and terrorism. Well before 11
September 2001 they had provided evidence to the Taleban of the
responsibility of Al Qaida for the terrorist attacks in East
Africa. This evidence had been provided to senior leaders of the
Taleban at their request.
15. The United
States government had made it clear to the Taleban regime that
Al Qaida had murdered US citizens, and planned to murder more.
The US offered to work with the Taleban to expel the terrorists
from Afghanistan. These talks, which have been continuing since
1996, have failed to produce any results.
16. In June 2001,
in the face of mounting evidence of the Al Qaida threat, the
United States warned the Taleban that it had the right to defend
itself and that it would hold the régime responsible for
attacks against US citizens by terrorists sheltered in
17. In this, the
United States had the support of the United Nations. The
Security Council, in Resolution 1267, condemned Usama Bin Laden
for sponsoring international terrorism and operating a network
of terrorist camps, and demanded that the Taleban surrender
Usama Bin Laden without further delay so that he could be
brought to justice.
18. Despite the
evidence provided by the US of the responsibility of Usama Bin
Laden and Al Qaida for the 1998 East Africa bombings, despite
the accurately perceived threats of further atrocities, and
despite the demands of the United Nations, the Taleban régime
responded by saying no evidence existed against Usama Bin Laden,
and that neither he nor his network would be expelled.
19. A former
Government official in Afghanistan has described the Taleban and
Usama Bin Laden as "two sides of the same coin: Usama
cannot exist in Afghanistan without the Taleban and the Taleban
cannot exist without Usama."
20. Al Qaida is
dedicated to opposing ‘un-Islamic’ governments in Muslim
countries with force and violence.
21. Al Qaida
virulently opposes the United States. Usama Bin Laden has urged
and incited his followers to kill American citizens, in the most
22. On 12 October
1996 he issued a declaration of jihad as follows:
people of Islam have suffered from aggression, iniquity and
injustice imposed by the Zionist-Crusader alliance and their
collaborators . . .
It is the
duty now on every tribe in the Arabian peninsula to fight
jihad and cleanse the land from these Crusader occupiers.
Their wealth is booty to those who kill them.
brothers: your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the
two Holy Places [i.e.
Saudi Arabia] are calling upon your help and asking you
to take part in fighting against the enemy – the Americans
and the Israelis. They are asking you to do whatever you can
to expel the enemies out of the sanctities of Islam."
Later in the same
year he said that
the American occupiers [of
Islamic Holy Places] is a religious and logical
In February 1998
he issued and signed a ‘fatwa’ which included a decree to
". . . the
killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies
is a religious duty for each and every Muslim to be carried
out in whichever country they are until Al Aqsa mosque has
been liberated from their grasp and until their armies have
left Muslim lands."
In the same
‘fatwa’ he called on Muslim scholars and their leaders and
their youths to
an attack on the American soldiers of Satan."
with God’s help – call on every Muslim who believes in
God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order
to kill Americans and plunder their money whenever and
wherever they find it. We also call on Muslims . . . to
launch the raid on Satan’s US troops and the devil’s
supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are
When asked, in
1998, about obtaining chemical or nuclear weapons he said
such weapons for the defence of Muslims [was] a religious
In an interview
aired on Al Jazira (Doha, Qatar) television he stated:
enemy is every American male, whether he is directly
fighting us or paying taxes."
In two interviews
broadcast on US television in 1997 and 1998 he referred to the
terrorists who carried out the earlier attack on the World Trade
Center in 1993 as "role models". He went on to
exhort his followers "to take the fighting to America."
23. From the
early 1990s Usama Bin Laden has sought to obtain nuclear and
chemical materials for use as weapons of terror.
24. Although US
targets are Al Qaida’s priority, it also explicitly threatens
the United States’ allies. References to "Zionist-Crusader
alliance and their collaborators," and to "Satan’s
US troops and the devil’s supporters allying with them"
are references which unquestionably include the United Kingdom.
25. There is a
continuing threat. Based on our experience of the way the
network has operated in the past, other cells, like those that
carried out the terrorist attacks on 11 September, must be
assumed to exist.
26. Al Qaida
functions both on its own and through a network of other
terrorist organisations. These include Egyptian Islamic Jihad
and other north African Islamic extremist terrorist groups, and
a number of other jihadi groups in other countries including the
Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and India. Al Qaida also
maintains cells and personnel in a number of other countries to
facilitate its activities.
27. Usama Bin
Laden heads the Al Qaida network. Below him is a body known as
the Shura, which includes representatives of other terrorist
groups, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman Zawahiri and
prominent lieutenants of Bin Laden such as Abu Hafs Al-Masri.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad has, in effect, merged with Al Qaida.
28. In addition
to the Shura, Al Qaida has several groups dealing with military,
media, financial and Islamic issues.
29. Mohamed Atef
is a member of the group that deals with military and terrorist
operations. His duties include principal responsibility for
training Al Qaida members.
30. Members of Al
Qaida must make a pledge of allegiance to follow the orders of
Usama Bin Laden.
31. A great deal
of evidence about Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida has been made
available in the US indictment for earlier crimes.
32. Since 1989,
Usama Bin Laden has conducted substantial financial and business
transactions on behalf of Al Qaida and in pursuit of its goals.
These include purchasing land for training camps, purchasing
warehouses for the storage of items, including explosives,
purchasing communications and electronics equipment, and
transporting currency and weapons to members of Al Qaida and
associated terrorist groups in countries throughout the world.
33. Since 1989
Usama Bin Laden has provided training camps and guest houses in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Somalia and Kenya for the use
of Al Qaida and associated terrorist groups. We know from
intelligence that there are currently at least a dozen camps
across Afghanistan, of which at least four are used for training
34. Since 1989,
Usama Bin Laden has established a series of businesses to
provide income for Al Qaida, and to provide cover for the
procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals, and for the
travel of Al Qaida operatives. The businesses have included a
holding company known as ‘Wadi Al Aqiq’, a construction
business known as ‘Al Hijra’, an agricultural business known
as ‘Al Themar Al Mubaraka’, and investment companies known
as ‘Ladin International’ and ‘Taba Investments’.
Usama Bin Laden
and previous attacks
35. In 1992 and
1993 Mohamed Atef travelled to Somalia on several occasions for
the purpose of organising violence against United States and
United Nations troops then stationed in Somalia. On each
occasion he reported back to Usama Bin Laden, at his base in the
Riyadh district of Khartoum.
36. In the spring
of 1993 Atef, Saif al Adel, another senior member of Al Qaida,
and other members began to provide military training to Somali
tribes for the purpose of fighting the United Nations forces.
37. On 3 and 4
October 1993 operatives of Al Qaida participated in the attack
on US military personnel serving in Somalia as part of the
operation ‘Restore Hope.’ Eighteen US military personnel
were killed in the attack.
38. From 1993
members of Al Qaida began to live in Nairobi and set up
businesses there, including Asma Ltd, and Tanzanite King. They
were regularly visited there by senior members of Al Qaida, in
particular by Atef and Abu Ubadiah al Banshiri.
39. Beginning in
the latter part of 1993, members of Al Qaida in Kenya began to
discuss the possibility of attacking the US Embassy in Nairobi
in retaliation for US participation in Operation Restore Hope in
Somalia. Ali Mohamed, a US citizen and admitted member of Al
Qaida, surveyed the US Embassy as a possible target for a
terrorist attack. He took photographs and made sketches, which
he presented to Usama Bin Laden while Bin Laden was in Sudan. He
also admitted that he had trained terrorists for Al Qaida in
Afghanistan in the early 1990s, and that those whom he trained
included many involved in the East African bombings in August
40. In June or
July 1998, two Al Qaida operatives, Fahid Mohammed Ali Msalam
and Sheik Ahmed Salim Swedan, purchased a Toyota truck and made
various alterations to the back of the truck.
41. In early
August 1998, operatives of Al Qaida gathered in 43, New Runda
Estates, Nairobi to execute the bombing of the US Embassy in
42. On 7 August
1998, Assam, a Saudi national and Al Qaida operative, drove the
Toyota truck to the US embassy. There was a large bomb in the
back of the truck.
43. Also in the
truck was Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al ‘Owali, another Saudi. He,
by his own confession, was an Al Qaida operative, who from about
1996 had been trained in Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan in
explosives, hijacking, kidnapping, assassination and
intelligence techniques. With Usama Bin Laden’s express
permission, he fought alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan. He
had met Usama Bin Laden personally in 1996 and asked for another
‘mission.’ Usama Bin Laden sent him to East Africa after
extensive specialised training at camps in Afghanistan.
44. As the truck
approached the Embassy, Al ’Owali got out and threw a stun
grenade at a security guard. Assam drove the truck up to the
rear of the embassy. He got out and then detonated the bomb,
which demolished a multi-storey secretarial college and severely
damaged the US embassy, and the Co-operative bank building. The
bomb killed 213 people and injured 4500. Assam was killed in the
45. Al ‘Owali
expected the mission to end in his death. He had been willing to
die for Al Qaida. But at the last minute he ran away from the
bomb truck and survived. He had no money, passport or plan to
escape after the mission, because he had expected to die.
46. After a few
days, he called a telephone number in Yemen to have money
transferred to him in Kenya. The number he rang in Yemen was
contacted by Usama Bin Laden’s phone on the same day as Al
‘Owali was arranging to get the money.
person arrested in connection with the Nairobi bombing was
Mohamed Sadeek Odeh. He admitted to his involvement. He
identified the principal participants in the bombing. He named
three other persons, all of whom were Al Qaida or Egyptian
Islamic Jihad members.
48. In Dar es
Salaam the same day, at about the same time, operatives of Al
Qaida detonated a bomb at the US embassy, killing 11 people. The
Al Qaida operatives involved included Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil and
Khaflan Khamis Mohamed. The bomb was carried in a Nissan Atlas
truck, which Ahmed Khfaklan Ghailani and Sheikh Ahmed Salim
Swedan, two Al Qaida operatives, had purchased in July 1998, in
Dar es Salaam.
Khamis Mohamed was arrested for the bombing. He admitted
membership of Al Qaida, and implicated other members of Al Qaida
in the bombing.
50. On 7 and 8
August 1998, two other members of Al Qaida disseminated claims
of responsibility for the two bombings by sending faxes to media
organisations in Paris, Doha in Qatar, and Dubai in the United
evidence of the involvement of Al Qaida in the East African
bombings came from a search conducted in London of several
residences and businesses belonging to Al Qaida and Egyptian
Islamic Jihad members. In those searches a number of documents
were found including claims of responsibility for the East
African bombings in the name of a fictitious group, ‘the
Islamic Army for the liberation of the Holy Places.’
52. Al ‘Owali,
the would-be suicide bomber, admitted he was told to make a
videotape of himself using the name of the same fictitious
53. The faxed
claims of responsibility were traced to a telephone number,
which had been in contact with Usama Bin Laden’s cell phone.
The claims disseminated to the press were clearly written by
someone familiar with the conspiracy. They stated that the
bombings had been carried out by two Saudis in Kenya, and one
Egyptian in Dar es Salaam. They were probably sent before the
bombings had even taken place. They referred to two Saudis dying
in the Nairobi attack. In fact, because Al ‘Owali fled at the
last minute, only one Saudi died.
54. On 22
December 1998 Usama Bin Laden was asked by Time magazine
whether he was responsible for the August 1998 attacks. He
International Islamic Jihad Front for the jihad against the
US and Israel has, by the grace of God, issued a crystal
clear fatwa calling on the Islamic nation to carry on Jihad
aimed at liberating the holy sites. The nation of Mohammed
has responded to this appeal. If instigation for jihad
against the Jews and the Americans . . . is considered to be
a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal.
Our job is to instigate and, by the grace of God, we did
that, and certain people responded to this
He was asked if
he knew the attackers:
". . .
those who risked their lives to earn the pleasure of God are
real men. They managed to rid the Islamic nation of
disgrace. We hold them in the highest esteem."
And what the US
could expect of him:
". . .
any thief or criminal who enters another country to steal
should expect to be exposed to murder at any time . . . The
US knows that I have attacked it, by the grace of God, for
more than ten years now . . . God knows that we have been
pleased by the killing of American soldiers [in
Somalia in 1993]. This was achieved by the grace of God
and the efforts of the mujahideen . . . Hostility towards
America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded for
it by God. I am confident that Muslims will be able to end
the legend of the so-called superpower that is
55. In December
1999 a terrorist cell linked to Al Qaida was discovered trying
to carry out attacks inside the United States. An Algerian,
Ahmed Ressam, was stopped at the US-Canadian border and over 100
lbs of bomb making material was found in his car. Ressam
admitted he was planning to set off a large bomb at Los Angeles
International airport on New Year’s Day. He said that he had
received terrorist training at Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan and
then been instructed to go abroad and kill US civilians and
56. On 3 January
2000, a group of Al Qaida members, and other terrorists who had
trained in Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan, attempted to attack a
US destroyer with a small boat loaded with explosives. Their
boat sank, aborting the attack.
57. On 12 October
2000, however, the USS Cole was struck by an
explosive-laden boat while refuelling in Aden harbour. Seventeen
crew were killed, and 40 injured.
58. Several of
the perpetrators of the Cole attack (mostly Yemenis and
Saudis) were trained at Usama Bin Laden’s camps in
Afghanistan. Al ‘Owali has identified the two commanders of
the attack on the USS Cole as having participated in the
planning and preparation for the East African embassy bombings.
59. In the months
before the September 11 attacks, propaganda videos were
distributed throughout the Middle East and Muslim world by Al
Qaida, in which Usama Bin Laden and others were shown
encouraging Muslims to attack American and Jewish targets.
videos, extolling violence against the United States and other
targets, were distributed before the East African embassy
attacks in August 1998.
Usama Bin Laden
and the 11 September attacks
61. Nineteen men
have been identified as the hijackers from the passenger lists
of the four planes hijacked on 11 September 2001. At least three
of them have already been positively identified as associates of
Al Qaida. One has been identified as playing key roles in both
the East African embassy attacks and the USS Cole attack.
Investigations continue into the backgrounds of all the
intelligence sources, the following facts have been established
subsequent to 11 September; for intelligence reasons, the names
of associates, though known, are not given.
- In the run-up
to 11 September, bin Laden was mounting a concerted
propaganda campaign amongst like-minded groups of people –
including videos and documentation – justifying attacks on
Jewish and American targets; and claiming that those who
died in the course of them were carrying out God’s work.
- We have
learned, subsequent to 11 September, that Bin Laden himself
asserted shortly before 11 September that he was preparing a
major attack on America.
- In August and
early September close associates of Bin Laden were warned to
return to Afghanistan from other parts of the world by 10
prior to 11 September some known associates of Bin Laden
were naming the date for action as on or around 11
- Since 11
September we have learned that one of Bin Laden’s closest
and most senior associates was responsible for the detailed
planning of the attacks.
- There is
evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of
Bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to
63. Usama Bin
Laden remains in charge, and the mastermind, of Al Qaida. In Al
Qaida, an operation on the scale of the 11 September attacks
would have been approved by Usama Bin Laden himself.
64. The modus
operandi of 11 September was entirely consistent with previous
attacks. Al Qaida’s record of atrocities is characterised by
meticulous long term planning, a desire to inflict mass
casualties, suicide bombers, and multiple simultaneous attacks.
65. The attacks
of 11 September 2001 are entirely consistent with the scale and
sophistication of the planning which went into the attacks on
the East African Embassies and the USS Cole. No warnings
were given for these three attacks, just as there was none on 11
66. Al Qaida
operatives, in evidence given in the East African Embassy bomb
trials, have described how the group spends years preparing for
an attack. They conduct repeated surveillance, patiently gather
materials, and identify and vet operatives, who have the skills
to participate in the attack and the willingness to die for
operatives involved in the 11 September atrocities attended
flight schools, used flight simulators to study the controls of
larger aircraft and placed potential airports and routes under
68. Al Qaida’s
attacks are characterised by total disregard for innocent lives,
including Muslims. In an interview after the East African
bombings, Usama Bin Laden insisted that the need to attack the
United States excused the killing of other innocent civilians,
Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
69. No other
organisation has both the motivation and the capability to carry
out attacks like those of the 11 September – only the Al Qaida
network under Usama Bin Laden.
70. The attacks
of the 11 September 2001 were planned and carried out by Al
Qaida, an organisation whose head is Usama Bin Laden. That
organisation has the will, and the resources, to execute further
attacks of similar scale. Both the United States and its close
allies are targets for such attacks. The attack could not have
occurred without the alliance between the Taleban and Usama Bin
Laden, which allowed Bin Laden to operate freely in Afghanistan,
promoting, planning and executing terrorist activity.