Terrorism: January 12, 2002


We do not know, and may never know, if Osama bin Laden got out of Afghanistan, or when he did so. What we have learned, however, is that about 200 al Qaeda operatives left Afghanistan between 11 September and the start of the bombing campaign. These left through the northern border, going through Tadjikistan or Uzbekhistan to the Ukraine; from there, nobody knows where they went. They bought new identities from Taliban officials and then passed through "travel agents" who were part of the Northern Alliance by paying bribes of about $25,000 each. Such bribes, false papers, and clandestine travel arrangements have been common in Afghanistan for generations.--Stephen V Cole


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