When U.S. and United Nations soldiers got bogged down in a guerrilla war in Somalia in 1993-94, it wasn't just the rebel leader Mohammed Farah Aidid they were fighting it was the terrorist forces of Osama bin Laden, according to new intelligence information obtained by DEBKA-Net-Weekly.
Aidid became notorious after a savage 14-hour battle in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, between U.S. elite Rangers and Delta units and the men under his command. Aidid was a former ally of the late pro-Soviet Somali ruler Said Barre and his intelligence chief.
In January 1991, Aidid led a military coup that ousted Barre, plunging Somalia in a vicious civil war that left more than a million dead in 10 years and brought a population of 7 million into deep famine. In December 1994, the U.N. launched a food aid and medical relief operation called "Restore Hope," supported by a U.S. military expedition whose purpose was to secure aid distribution and then leave the country.
This is not how it panned out. Instead of handing out relief, the U.N. and U.S. contingents, especially the one from Pakistan, were forced to stand up and defend themselves against incessant assaults from Somalia militias, the most hostile being Aidid's force. This went on for nine months, during which the U.S. was dragged deep into the Somali quagmire.
At length, the Americans faced the options of beating the Aidid force on the battlefield or retiring in defeat with heavy losses.
The Clinton administration decided the only way to extricate the American force from Somalia was to hit the Aidid militia hard. The best way to go about this was to seize Aidid himself.
A secret CIA file obtained by DEBKA reveals what no one in the White House, U.S. military or U.S. intelligence agencies understood at the time that the hard-core fighters of the Aidid militia were not Somali but members of bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, who were deployed in his Mogadishu bases.
However, according to the data contained in that file, some person or persons in the office of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali did know this and made sure to keep the information from the American government, according to the CIA file.
The final battle that prompted President Clinton's decision to pull his men out of Somalia bears the hallmarks of a secret ambush. The same hand...