Tora Bora, Afghanistan. December 5, 2001: Could military officials have botched their most promising opportunity to capture or kill the man behind the terrorist attacks of September 11th?
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network are responsible for an incalculable number of bombings, kidnappings, and suicide missions, including the attacks of September 11, 2001. US military and political leaders respond to that horrific act of terrorism with brute military force, calling in a bombing campaign over Afghanistan designed to rout out Taliban and al Qaeda forces buried in the nation's mountains. But a decision to employ Afghan fighters instead of US troops in the ground portion of the assault could have made a difference in whether or not Osama bin Laden was eventually caught.
Two months into the campaign, military officials get a break. Intelligence sources place Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, a complex system of underground tunnels and caves al Qaeda successfully used as a stronghold against Soviet forces in the 1980s. The 10th Mountain Division arrives, accompanied by Afghan soldiers who are responsible for penetrating the caves. For two weeks, aided by US and British air support, 2,000 Afghan fighters battle al Qaeda through the ominous and violent underworld.
But the main target slips away. The US loses its grip on Osama bin Laden and the military tactics used at Tora Bora will be debated in the years to come.
Was using Afghan fighters to front the attack in Tora Bora a paramount mistake in the War on Terror? Or was the terrain so treacherous that Afghan forces more familiar with the environment were, in fact, our best bet? Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, joins Jacki Schechner to discuss the decisions made at Tora Bora and how the world's most dangerous man continues to elude authorities. Then Dante Anderson, Kuma's Head of Product Development, will talk about our dramatic recreation of al Qaeda's massive cave complex, Tora Bora, where the front lines shift underground and violent al Qaeda operatives lead you through a maze of mayhem.