In what they term an exclusive interview, radio station WTOP reveals that Osama’s Al-Qaeda didn’t think the U.S would retaliate to the extent it did:
Osama bin Laden had no idea the U.S. would hit al-Qaida as hard as it has since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a former bin Laden associate tells WTOP in an exclusive interview.
“I’m 100 percent sure they had no clue about what was going to happen,” says Noman Benotman, who was head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the summer of 2000. “What happened after the 11th of September was beyond their imagination, ” says Benotman, who adds that al-Qaida thought the U.S. was a “paper tiger.”
Sitting on the floor at bin Laden’s compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan during a meeting the summer before the attacks, Benotman shocked bin Laden and more than 200 other international jihadist leaders by telling the al-Qaida leader his jihadi strategy was “a total failure.”
Benotman, a highly regarded associate of bin Laden’s at the time, says he surprised him again by rebuffing a plea for help. “He asked for my help. Bin Laden asked me personally, you know. I responded immediately on the spot …’No. I’m not going to help you.’”
Bin Laden was stunned.
“Because he used to like to sit next to me, you know. My right hand side,” Benotman says. The seating location meant he was someone bin Laden respected. Benotman says he spoke frankly because his reputation allowed him to.
“I’ve spent time in the front line engaging with the enemy more than bin Laden and [Ayman Al-]Zawahiri and the entire group of al-Qaida.” Zawahiri laughed when he warned those at the 2000 meeting that the U.S. response would be swift, hard and long, Benotman says.
Benotman attributes al-Qaida’s overconfident attitude to the United States’ response to al-Qaida attacks on its in embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1998. Zawahiri, according to Benotman, expected only a missile attack…
[continues at WTOP]