Terrorism: December 5, 2000


The US is closing in on Osama bin Laden as the culprit behind the attack on the USS Cole. The problem is that bin Laden is at the top of a "network of networks" and that while he trained and financed most of the terrorists he may not have actually given the order, although he may have given his blessings. Analysis of message intercepts and infiltration reports indicates that people one step away from bin Laden are known to have planned the mission and given the execute orders; it is not clear if bin Laden gave the order, blessed a mission someone else thought up, or perhaps even did not know that the mission was going to happen in more than general terms. The White House is studying a range of retaliation options, including missile and manned bomber attacks, diplomatic sanctions against countries that supported the terrorists, or legal attempts to seize bank accounts and other assets linked to bin Laden or his associates. A ground attack into Afghanistan is not in the offing; it could not be done without support from Pakistan or Russia and would probably leave American troops behind during the


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