I was going through some old news reports and I was shocked to find a BBC report from 2002 that the Afghan Taliban warned the Americans and the UN of an impending attack on US by Al-Qaeda however their warning was not taken seriously by the Americans for a number of reasons.

The reporter cites unnamed American officials acknowledging that the warning was indeed conveyed but Americans weren't particularly bothered by it due to a lot of such reports being received by intel sources. Unnamed sources aren't exactly my favorites so let's just say it is dubious if the warning was ever received by the Americans.

Nevertheless, I was looking around for any official comments on this warning by any Official in Bush Administration or their successors but can't seem to find any. Have any American Political, Military, Diplomatic notable figures commented on that? Is their any acknowledgement of there being such a warning?

(If this question is more suitable for Skeptics SE, I'll be grateful if the Mods could migrate it there.)

  • 3
    "... a lot of such reports being received by intel sources." My understanding is that there are a staggering number of "tells" on any given day; the trick as an intelligence agency is to figure out which ones are important, and what they really mean. There's an old joke: when the CIA does it's job right, nobody knows; when they do their job wrong, everybody knows. I wonder how much weight the intelligence agencies gave the warning - and whether, without the benefit of hindsight - there was any other realistic option. – Ghotir Oct 26 '17 at 14:08
  • @Ghotir Oh I completely agree, this is something which all intelligence agencies have in common. I am just curious if some notable figure commented on that "Okay yeah there was this tip off from the Taliban but we didn't take the seriously". Primarily it is because I am skeptical about the whole "Warning". That's what the question is about, not whether or not CIA did the right thing. – NSNoob Oct 26 '17 at 14:27
  • My understanding is they receive thousands of threats every day and it's hard to tell the signal from the noise. Or at least, that's my understanding of what I believe they would prefer my understanding be ... puts on tin foil hat – corsiKa Oct 26 '17 at 14:32
  • @corsiKa That is of course assuming there was a warning in the first place. Americans haven't officially confirmed it AFAIK (Which is what I am looking for, the confirmation or lack thereof in form of some official comment or statement). It is entirely possible that the aide of Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil cooked the entire thing up so that he could get an easier time in US captivity (But idk why they would be lying, Since the man was already in US custody, if he did convey a warning, US could easily verify it internally, which makes the lie illogical) – NSNoob Oct 26 '17 at 14:56
  • 1
    @Ghotir - Quite. I have a copy of the 911 report, and it goes into a lot of these. One of the takeaways was that they had enough intel, but the stovepiping of the various intel agencies hampered reporting, and hampered the ability of any one analyst to have the capacity to put all the pieces together. This is why the Dept. of Homeland Security was created. – T.E.D. Oct 27 '17 at 14:26

The 9/11 Commission Report published July 22, 2004 would be the goto source for any such research. The exhaustive bipartisan 450 page report detailed who knew what and when they knew it in excruciating detail.

Below is what I have found.

On page 262, August 6 2001, It says:

"the President's daily briefing contained the words the "CIA and FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives".

It goes on to say that the FBI had a group of 30 agents working on 70 ongoing bin Ladin- related investigations.

Also from page 262:

Late in August 2001, a foreign service reported that Abu Zubaydah was considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing or method of attack were provided.

And those were the last "warnings" discussed by high level Bush Administration officials of an impending attack until after Sept 11 2001.

Also to support your premise that a Taliban Foreign Service official in August of 2001 would have warned the United States, The report details a rift between the leader of the Taliban and Osama in the months leading up to the attack on whether to attack the US or not.

On page 251 the report says:

"There is evidence that Mullah Omar (the leader of the Taliban) initially opposed a major al Qaeda operation directly against the United States in 2001. By July, with word spreading of a coming attack a schism emerged among the senior leadership of al Qaeda. Several senior member reportedly agreed with Mullah Omar. (against an attack).... those said to have opposed were mighty figures in the organization. including Abu Hafs the Mauritanian, Sheikh Saeed al Masri, and Sayf al Adl."

Also from page 252:

According to KSM, in late August, when the operation was fully planned, Bin Ladin formally notified the al Qaeda Shura Council that a major attack against the United States would take place in the coming weeks. When some council members objected, Bin Ladin countered that Mullah Omar lacked authority to prevent al Qaeda from conducting jihad outside of Afghanistan.

  • Yes! Thank you for taking the time (I didn't have) to look this up in the report. I remember there was an even better tip than the one this question was about. An FBI field office noticed a lot of Arab foreigners taking flight training. He correctly guessed exactly what they were up to, but couldn't get the interest of FBI HQ. – T.E.D. Oct 31 '17 at 9:23
  • There is evidence that Mullah Omar (the leader of the Taliban) initially opposed a major al Qaeda operation directly against the United States in 2001. Okay So I suppose that's the best we get as far as acknowledgment goes. So US government have always maintained that Taliban didn't approve of 9/11 and said that they have evidence of it without going into details as to what the evidence was – NSNoob Nov 7 '17 at 5:55
  • I believe the US position has always been. The Taliban gave shelter to Osama, and was warned many times they would be held responsible for his actions. Thus it is irrelevant whether Mullah Omar ultimately approved or disproved of the attack. – JMS Nov 7 '17 at 6:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.