WARSAW — In late 1999, two years before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, a group of Afghan agents loyal to an anti-Taliban guerrilla leader proposed assassinating Osama bin Laden. All they wanted was the $5 million reward the Clinton administration had offered for bin Laden's capture, says a former Polish spy who was the Afghans' go-between on the plot.
The CIA rejected the plan, however, saying it do not have a license to kill. Instead, the agency said it wanted bin Laden captured and put on trial.
The story is the centerpiece of Ferreting out bin Laden a book by former spy Alexander Makowski that was published in Poland in June but isn't yet available in English. The book is told from the perspective of an allied intelligence service whose specialty is human intelligence — recruiting and running agents — not the technological monitoring that's considered the United States' strength.
"They gave us the exact location of the houses where bin Laden would be staying in Kandahar, the route he would be taking between his living quarters, his meeting place, and what kind of transportation he would be using," Makowski told McClatchy Newspapers in an interview, referring to the city in southern Afghanistan that was the Taliban's seat of power. The Afghans planned to use car bombs to kill the Saudi-born leader of al-Qaida, he said.
The CIA had no comment on the book.