Template:Infobox military conflict The August 1998 bombings of Afghanistan and Sudan (codenamed Operation Infinite Reach by the United States) were American cruise missile strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on August 20, 1998. The attack was in retaliation for the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people (including 12 Americans) and injured 5,000 others.

Al-Shifa plant bombing and controversy[edit | edit source]

Main article: Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory

The missiles were launched from US warships in the Red Sea. Several hit the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which the United States claimed was helping Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the embassy attacks, build chemical weapons. One man was killed and ten were wounded in Sudan by the strike.

Then United States National Security Council advisor Richard Clarke stated that intelligence existed linking Osama bin Laden to Al-Shifa's current and past operators, namely the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan.[1] The government of Sudan demanded an apology from both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations; but none has been given, since U.S. intelligence still believes the plant had ties to chemical weapons. According to testimony by William Cohen, "...the U.S. intelligence community obtained physical evidence from outside the al-Shifa facility in Sudan that supported long-standing concerns regarding its potential role in Sudanese chemical weapon efforts that could be exploited by al Qaeda."[2]

Officials later acknowledged, however, that "the evidence that prompted President Clinton to order the missile strike on the Shifa plant was not as solid as first portrayed." Indeed, officials later said that there was no proof that the plant had been manufacturing or storing nerve gas, as initially suspected by the Americans, or had been linked to Osama bin Laden, who was a resident of Khartoum in the 1990s."[3]

The Al-Shifa factory was Sudan's primary source of pharmaceuticals, covering the majority of the Sudanese market. Werner Daum (Germany's ambassador to Sudan 1996–2000) wrote an article in which he estimated that the attack "probably led to tens of thousands of deaths" of Sudanese civilians.[4] The U.S. Bureau of Intelligence and Research wrote a report in 1999 questioning the attack on the factory, suggesting that the connection to bin Laden was not accurate; James Risen reported in the New York Times:

"Now, the analysts renewed their doubts and told Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Oakley that the C.I.A.'s evidence on which the attack was based was inadequate. Ms. Oakley asked them to double-check; perhaps there was some intelligence they had not yet seen. The answer came back quickly: There was no additional evidence. Ms. Oakley called a meeting of key aides and a consensus emerged: Contrary to what the Administration was saying, the case tying Al Shifa to Mr. bin Laden or to chemical weapons was weak."[5]

The Chairman of El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries, who is critical of the Sudanese government, more recently told reporters, "I had inventories of every chemical and records of every employee's history. There were no such [nerve gas] chemicals being made here."[6] Sudan has since invited the U.S. to conduct chemical tests at the site for evidence to support its claim that the plant might have been a chemical weapons factory; so far, the U.S. has refused the invitation to investigate. Nevertheless, the U.S. has refused to officially apologize for the attacks.[3]

Attack on camps in Afghanistan[edit | edit source]

File:Operation Infinite Reach 2.jpg

Satellite image showing an al-Qaeda training camp in Zhawar Kili

Interestingly, even if bin Laden had been there, it would have taken a good deal of luck to kill him. The camp facilities at Khowst are fairly extensive and cover a substantial piece of ground.

Michael Scheuer, CIA Station Chief[7]

About 75 cruise missiles were fired by the U.S. into the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan at four Afghan training camps:

The attack was made partly in an attempt to assassinate bin Laden and other leaders.[12] After the attack, the CIA heard that bin Laden had been at Zhawar Kili al-Badr but had left some hours before the missiles hit.[13]

The earlier arrest of Mohammed Odeh on August 7 while traveling to meet with Osama, is said to have alerted bin Laden, who canceled the meeting which meant that the camps targeted by the cruise missiles were mainly empty the day of the US strike.[14]

According to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, 20 Afghans, seven Pakistanis, three Yemenis, two Egyptians, one Saudi and one Turk were killed.[8] Abu Jandal later estimated that only six men had been killed in the strikes.[15] The only confirmed death in the strikes was Egyptian-Canadian Amr Hamed. Osama bin Laden jokingly told militants at the al-Jihad merger that only a few camels and chickens had died.[16]

U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the attacks in a TV address, saying the Khost camp was "one of the most active terrorist bases in the world,"[17] adding that "I want the world to understand that our actions today were not aimed against Islam" which he called "a great religion."[18]

Reaction[edit | edit source]

  • Template:Country data Chechnya - Chechen Vice-President Vakha Arsanov said that by attacking Afghanistan and Sudan the United States had launched an "undeclared World War III", threatened to attack the Americans anywhere in the world, and that Clinton had been put on the "wanted list" for his crimes against the Islamic people and would be tried according to Sharia laws.[23]
  • Template:Country data Iraq said it was "ready to cooperate with any Arab and international countries to confront the U.S. hostile policies."[19]
  • 25px In Afghanistan the Taliban denounced the bombing as actually aimed at the Afghan people. The movement denied charges it provides a safe haven for bin Laden and insisted that the U.S. attack killed only innocent civilians.[19]
  • 25px Osama bin Laden pledged to attack the U.S. again.[citation needed] Ayman al-Zawahiri made a phone call to a Newsweek reporter, stating that "The war has only just begun; the Americans should now await the answer." [24]
  • 22px Harkat-ul-Mujahideen also threatened to retaliate, saying "The Americans and Jews should now prepare for their destruction. The self-respecting Muslims of the world ... have announced they will wage a holy war against America."[20]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Embassy Attacks Thwarted, U.S. Says; Official Cites Gains Against Bin Laden; Clinton Seeks $10 Billion to Fight Terrorism
  2. Statement of William S. Cohen (Page 9 of PDF)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Look at the Place! Sudan Says, 'Say Sorry,' but U.S. Won't, The New York Times, 2005/10/20
  4. Universalism and the West
  5. To Bomb Sudan Plant, or Not: A Year Later, Debates Rankle
  6. Sudan shifts from pariah to partner
  7. Scheuer, Michael. "Marching Towards Hell", 2008
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rashid, Taliban (2000), p.134
  9. http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/hua.htm Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA)
  10. New York Times, August 27, 1998, p.A8
  11. Steve Coll (2005) Ghost Wars (paperback ed.) 409-10. Penguin: ISBN 0-14-303466-9.
  12. Coll, 410.
  13. Coll, 411.
  14. Gertz, Bill, "Inside The Ring: Missing bin Laden", Washington Times, September 18, 2008, pg. B1.
  15. Bergen, Peter. "The Osama bin Laden I Know", 2006
  16. Temple-Raston, Dina. "The Jihad Next Door", 2007.
  17. New York Times, August 22, 1998, p.A10
  18. New York Times, August 21, 1998, p.A8
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 Muslims, Yeltsin denounce attack, CNN, August 21, 1998
  20. 20.0 20.1 Thousands stage anti-U.S. protest in Sudan, CNN, August 22, 1998
  21. New York Times August 21, 1998, p.A13
  22. Explosion rips through Planet Hollywood in South Africa, CNN, August 25, 1998
  23. Chechnya declares war on USA, PTI, Aug 23 1998
  24. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (2005), page 323. Vintage Books: ISBN 978-1-4000-3084-2

Actually Condoleezza Rice was likely referring to Operation Desert Fox, which was a massive bombing campaign of Iraq in December 1998, and completely different from Operation Infinite Reach in August 1998. In the interview Dr. Rice did not mention an operation code name or a month. Only that the Clinton Campaign had authorized bombing of Iraq following Clinton's signing of the Iraq Liberation Act.

External links[edit | edit source]

fr:Opération Infinite Reach pt:Operação Infinite Reach zh:无限延伸行动

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