Fatal Distraction

Share this item
Tools
 Podcats
 RSS

In this movie, Yvonne Ridley investigates the U.S. bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan and its connection with the Lewinsky scandal during the Bill Clinton administration. Ms. Ridlley believes that the U.S. made use of military force to cover up the sexual fiasco that had plagued the then U.S. government and to sway the public opinion away from the carnal affair. To this end, they attacked the Sudanese plant under the pretext of destroying a facility producing chemical agents to be used by terror organizations.

TIME CODE : 00:00 _05:00

Yvonne Ridley:

As the river Nile meanders through the hottest city on the planet life in Khartoum throws up a melting pot of images where traditional cultures and practices carry on as they have done for centuries. It’s a bustling city whose skyline is beginning to rise

in stature and status thanks to the arrival of five star hotels swept

in on a thriving economy driven by the country’s oil wealth.

Away from the tree-lined avenues and down the back streets young men play football on the dusty pitches while their elders discuss the days news as they go about their work. Their political opinions are as diverse as the 5 million population in the sprawling metropolis where there is a voracious appetite for information, news, and international politics.

“You know Sudanese people … they love politics”

Yvonne Ridley:

It seems everyone here has an opinion on world events and there is a fascination with this place in particular

Washington might be 6,500 miles from Khartoum but they know only too well that decisions made in The White House today can impact on their lives tomorrow. Although back in the 90s none could have magined how this White House intern?s antics in the Oval office could change their lives so dramatically. And no one really knew just how far the world’s most powerful man was prepared to go to save his presidency.

Yvonne Ridley:

Meanwhile in Afghanistan this man was about to

be propelled on to the world stage where he would play the role of

the West’s biggest bogey man for the next two decades ? but not

even the most strategic White House planners could have forseen where it would all lead.

Yvonne Ridley:

The Al Shifa factory in Khartoum was a great

source of pride not only in Sudan but across Africa. Employing more than 300 people, it was state of the art and produced life-saving

medicines used by 60 per cent of the Sudanese population as well as neighbouring countries. The quality medicines undercut the US

pharmaceutical giants by 40 per cent providing the poor and infirm

with hope and a lifeline. Killer diseases such as malaria and

dysentery were kept at bay and other medicines for veterinary use

were also manufactured at the plant in northern Khartoum.

So why would anyone in the world want to target Al Shifa?

CHORUS OF “MONICA LEWINSKI”

Yvonne Ridley:

It seems incredulous that a sordid little affair in the West could have spawned carnage on such a wide and devastating scale but, two decades later the facts remain unchanged. Clinton was a man under enormous pressure and that pressure began building at the beginning of 1998. It was the year in which he went from hero to zero.

TIME CODE : 04:58 _10:00

YVONNE RIDLEY:

News of his affair with Monica Lewinsky first broke in the Drudge Report and days became headlines in the Washington Post. It provoked the most dramatic statement ever to come from a President’s lips.

Bill Clinton:

“Now I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech – and I worked on it til pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me … I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false and I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you.”

Yvonne Ridley:

As the cheers and applause faded his formidable wife Hilary stepped in to the limelight to stand by her man.

Hilary Clinton:

“The great story here is this vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”

Yvonne Ridley:

But by the summer Monica Lewinsky told all and the headlines screamed for Clinton’s resignation. Respite for him only came when terrorists killed hundreds in two US Embassy bomb attacks in Tanzania and Kenya. They were immediately linked to Osama bin Ladin and that thrust him into the western public

attention for the first time.

Yvonne Ridley:

The FBI placed him on its most wanted list. The diversion didn’t last long and 10 days later Clinton was back in the firing line as he admitted to a Grand Jury on August 17 that he did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky. Headlines were brutal, unrelenting and without mercy. The media frenzy only stopped when Clinton made this announcement.

Bill Clinton:

“Today I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Yvonne Ridley:

Within days it emerged the intelligence was seriously flawed. Bin Ladin was more than a 100 miles away when the airstrike targeted camps in Afghanistan and US cruise missiles heading for Sudan had destroyed a factory producing life-saving medicines. Political commentators as diverse as Professor Noam Chomsky and journalist Christopher Hitchens accused Clinton of cynically attempting to distract media attention from his

personal life. If that was his intention it back-fired and left an

indelible stain on his presidency according to former CIA

intelligence officer Michael Scheuer.

Michael Scheuer:

“His one big accomplishment I think is that he destroyed the concept of shame in the United States. You can do anything now and not be ashamed. Clearly he’s a felon, he’s a liar.”

Dr Faisal Hassan Ibrahim:

“This plant also produced many different medicines for blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism. Medicines for malaria and veterinary medicines, for internal parasites and blood parasites. This plant produced some of the most important medicines for Sudan and Africa. It produced Shifampicin treatment which is used for treating tuberculosis.”

Journalist voice:

“Why the Americans are claiming that you are producing these chemicals here?”

Al Shifa employee:

“May be they are misinformed. They do not have the proper information.”

Yvonne Ridley:

As the sun set over Khartoum on the night of August 20th 1998 the workers at Al Shifa clocked off for the day ? little could they have imagined it would be for the last time. 580 miles away onboard US warship in the Red Sea Operation Infinite Reach was launched and as the Tomahawk missiles raced through the night skies for their unsuspecting target others headed for Afghanistan. US sailors were told it was payback time for the embassy bombings.

ABC Newscaster:

“Critics will say it is because he is ineffective. Now he’s done something and critics still say it’s because he is ineffective.”

Michael Scheuer:

“But we were as much surprised at the Agency as much as anyone else was that they had decided to go after that target because it had nothing to do with the attack on our embassies.”

TIME CODE : 10:00 _15:00

Yvonne Ridley:

Even now, two decades on it still seems extraordinary that one man would seek such desperate measures to divert attention from his private life to try and save his presidency.

Yvonne Ridley:

“Why do you think that Bill Clinton picked on Khartoum, picked on the Al Shifa factory as a target?”

Sana Hamad Alawad:

“You know we are a very poor country, very weak country at that time. We are suffering from a civil war and we have a critical problem with our economy. And we are so far away from America and nobody care about what is happening in Sudan and nobody cares about Al Shifa and the people who work in Al Shifa and their lives were changed after this bombing.

“Nobody came from the USA just to investigate about what happened in Al Shifa. I think Sudan was used as a poor excuse to cover what was happening with that president at that time … I mean what’s happening with Monica Lewsinki.

“We are a curious people here in Sudan. A lot of people go to Al Shifa just to see if maybe there is something underground, maybe there is a basement for that part and there is nothing, just a collapse over the earth.”

TV News journalist:

“If you have to say something to president Clinton now after the destruction of this factory what are you going to say?”

Al Shifa employee:

“It’s a total loss to the nation. Before the bombing it should have been evaluated to decide if the action they were taking is right or wrong.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“I’ve asked this before but do you really think that the most powerful politician in the world would bomb a factory thousands of miles away from home to divert attention from his questionable affair with Monica Lewinski?

Mekki Elmograbi:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. You can read here one of the headlines at that time ‘Monica Lewinsky is the reason’”.

Yvonne Ridley:

“So when Bill Clinton said we have targeted a factory in Khartoum because it makes VX nerve gas for al Qaida, how did you react to that?”

Mekki Elmograbi:

“We realized in no time this is just a kind of war and he’s lying. Also these people just talk about this is just a kind of scandal and he just wants to cover this scandal. Also at the time all of us in newspapers and reporters went directly to the factory, to the destroyed factory and there was a big demonstration led by the ruling part at that time and we felt that this is the beginning of the war.”

ABC News reader:

“Today the US military struck back hitting targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Ron Paul:

“A much more serious act that the President committed than anything we’ve generally talked about and that was the illegal bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan. Two hundred million dollars were spent for that without Congressional approval. Not only is it annoying, it is illegal, it is unconstitutional, I think it is an act of war.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Ismail KushKush you’re a journalist and you’ve spent many years researching the Al Shifa bombing. Where were you on the night of the bombing?”

“I was in California. I was a student at the University of California and Davis and woke up and heard the news that Khartoum and Afghanistan both had been bombed.

“I have relatives that don’t live far from hear so the first thing I did was call my relatives to make sure they were okay. They were okay they were only just shocked by the loud sounds. It’s not something normal that you would hear in Khartoum. Khartoum is a slow town, it’s quiet for the most part but they were shocked by the loud noise they had heard the night before.

“This came at a time when Bill Clinton was facing problems with the Monica Lewinsky case. His political career was at stake. US relations in Sudan were not good at the time but this took it to a different level.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“This has been called Khartoum’s Ground Zero but some Americans have been very quick to point out to me that one person died here 3,000 died in New York on 9/11. Of course you can’t say it’s a Ground Zero.”

Ismail KushKush:

“I think the problem with that is that we don’t know how many have people died here because of the destruction of Al Shifa. Malaria is a major disease in Sudan, in Africa in hot climate areas that kills thousands. Al Shifa produced anti malarial medicines for thousands of people, cheap medicines.

“The fact that this medicine that was produced by this factory at the time no longer exists we can only assume that thousands have died because of that. In addition to that it produced veterinary medicine and vaccines and in the absence of those vaccines we can assume that thousands of livelihoods have been destroyed because of that. The destruction of this factory definitely had an impact on Sudan and Sudanese life.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Stuart Griffiths you are an award-winning photographer now but you used to be a soldier in the British Army. You’ve seen some sights in your life. What do you make of this?”

Stuart Griffiths:

“Well I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Yeh, it is the scene of a crime. Something should be done. I think Bill Cinton should go on record and apologise, especially in the sense of the background as to the reasons why this happened in the first place.”

Michael Scheuer:

“I happen to be involved in the aftermath of the destruction of our two embassies in east Africa and at the time the attack was ordered the intelligence was very compelling … hat there was matter in the dirt in the area around that facility that could only have been used for one thing and that was the production of … I think a nerve gas, if I remember correctly. As it turned out it wasn’t true but it was the best information we was that it looked very likely it was true.”

Sudan man:

“We call upon the Sudan Peoples Armed Forces, and Air Defence Forces to be ready to respond to this aerial attack. We also praise all the people who have been coming here since yesterday to see what happened to this large factory. This factory was for Africans and Arabs who love peace.”

Dr Sirralkhatim Alamin Abdulgadir:

“I lived near al Shifa factory and at that time I heard the horrible sounds. It was horrible, all the crying and even animals crying.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Do you think the Americans will ever apologise?

Dr Sirralkhatim Alamin Abdulgadir:

“Maybe, maybe. But for me America apologise or not, it doesn’t matter for us. Our factory was destroyed, one Sudanese was killed. Apologise for what? It will not give us what we have lost, is it right? Nothing. We lost a lot of people, Sudanese people, a lot of Sudanese patients. They killed a man, they destroyed a factory for medicines. And after that you say if they apologise?”

“A large number of Sudanese affected by this attack on Sudanese factory.”

Dr Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani:

“The attack took place on the 20th of August and you must remember that on the 16th of August the President came out on the Monica Lewinsky affair … and admitted his wrongdoing. It was an attempt to conceal and to hide something and to address the internal domestic constituency. So it was intended to divert attention from the Monica lewisnky affair.”

Bill Clinton:

“As you know in a deposition in January I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewsinky…”

Yvonne Ridley:

“So you are saying one of the most powerful politicians in the world used Al Shifa as a fatal distraction?”

Dr Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani:

“The problem was they never had the courage to admit that they were doing so. I remember we were doubly surprised that after the attack they blocked every attempt to send out investigation teams to come out to Sudan and investigate the case.

“We were ready to receive any investigation team to prove that Al Shifa factory was not producing chemical gas but they were not in a position to face the reality here and they used their might and their power, and their veto power in particular to block any attempt to carry out such an investigation.

TIME CODE : 20:00 _25:00

“Well the immediate effect was disastrous on the patient population generally, especially children, cos Al Shifa was producing some 40 per cent or even more of antibiotics used by children. It also had a bad economic impact on Sudan because we are a poor country. This was one of the few industrial complexes which we had achieved and it was the pride of our pharmaceutical industry. It was shattered in one strike.

“It is a Ground Zero and it is a very strong indication of the faulty system that we have found ourselves in and I think it should be kept as long as it symbolizes those principles.”

Lord Nazir Ahmed:

“Americans have always done this type of thing. You know when they were losing war in Vietnam they bombed Cambodia when they were losing war in Iraq they bombed Syria ... They are losing war in Afghanistan they bomb Pakistan.

Usually there’s a diversion of some sort of political event so when you have all these fantastic stories about Monica Lewsinky and many other sissues in the United States it was a good diversion. And you know Americans do these type of things. They can get away with it because they are a super power and superpower gets away with everything.”

Irwin Armstrong:

“I didn’t look at every square inch of the factory however I wasn’t prevented from looking at any particular area. It’s always possibility that there could’ve been a deep underground lab that was accessed from outside the site. I wouldn’t be aware of that.

But certainly the actual factory there was no sign of there being any area which was off limits. There was no area where there was any additional clean rooms or additional security; very much that the workers were sitting around working production lines. And then there was a lab where obviously they were creating whatever pharmaceuticals they were producing.

“So all I can say there wasn’t anything that I saw that would have led you to think that there was any ulterior motive to the factory being there. I wasn’t in a position where I was searching the factory for chemical weapons but there certainly was no sign of them, there was certainly no additional security over any other facility that I had visited at that time. And there certainly wasn’t areas of the factory that I didn’t have access to.”

Bahsir Hassan Bashir:

“ I produce 195 different products and the oil about 7 or 8 products on these machines here.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“When you returned to Khartoum did you go to the site of your factory?”

Bashir Hassan Bashir:

“I’ll tell you frankly until now I’ve never gone there. I couldn’t go and see it.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Why is that?”

Bashir Hassan Bashir:

”Psychological because it is just like baby, baby. Only for far away, maybe 2 or 3 kilometres I saw the fires after 7 or ten days but even when it was out completely finished with the fire I couldn’t go and see that; until now I did not see it. Why did they need to bomb it.”

Yvonne Ridley:

But whatever Clinton’s motives the aftershocks would reverberate around the world for decades to come.

Yvonne Ridley:

In the next episode we trace the rise of Osama bin Ladin, the long term legacy of Al Shifa on the world beyond Sudan which led to the horrors of 9/11.

Yvonne Ridley:

Previously in Fatal Distraction we examined the build up of the political pressure heaped on US President Bill Clinton over his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Clinton:

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time. Never.”

Yvonne Ridley:

As the scandal reached a critical point in August 1998 it seemed nothing would divert the unrelenting media storm around the President until this happened.

Bill Clinton:

“Today, I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Yvonne Ridley:

In Sudan the immediate impact was to cost a night watchman his life and 300 Sudanese people their jobs but in the long term tens of thousands of malaria and dysentery victims died without the life-saving medicines once produced by Al Shifa.

Al Shifa Employee:

“All what we having is only for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and no other. We don’t manufacture chemicals here.”

Yvonne Ridley:

Meanwhile this relatively unknown Saudi man was suddenly propelled onto the international stage where he would reign supreme as the World’s Most Wanted for the next two decades.

CHORUS: “GOD IS GREAT.”

Yvonne Ridley:

Some believe, in terms of global terror, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair had set in motion a rare combination of circumstances that would lead to a perfect storm. There are those who say they can chart this destructive force from the rubble of Khartoum to the carnage of New York’s Ground Zero three years later.

Yvonne Ridley:

Today the ruins of Al Shifa are preserved as a testament to a dreadful crime committed against the Sudanese people. And behind the padlocked gates, this woman has sent up a makeshift home from where she stands over the rubble of Al Shifa, guarding it with a barely contained, smouldering anger.

Yvonne Ridley:

“This lady here is called Katrina. She sees it as her role to be guardian of the Al Shifa site.

TIME CODE : 25:00 _30:00

Yvonne Ridley:

She has moved here years ago and you can almost feel the anger. I’m not sure why she puts herself through this daily, but Katrina has been here for years now.

“She is the guardian of Al Shifa, the guardian of what some would say is a war crime.”

Yvonne Ridley:

While Katrina, a Christian from southern Sudan, has no direct connection with Al Shifa, hers is a shared pain representing a people united in grief. But this self-imposed responsibility has obviously taken its toll.

Yvonne Ridley:

Even today there are those who go to Al Shifa seeking

answers, searching for some sort of closure. Among them is Deng Akol whose brother suffered horrific injuries in the bombing for which he is still receiving treatment.

Yvonne Ridley:

“13 years on your brother is still suffering. When you look at this devastation now, how do you feel?”

Deng Akol:

“I think he’s not a politician, he has nothing to do with this, so I see a lot of danger. If they had targeted the person they were supposed to and we could have spoken to them then we could have mad a case against the person responsible for this but we don’t have the ability to. We are limited in our ability but they say this was an air attack from the US.”

NBC Presenter:

“Within minutes of the attack today some in Washington were openly questioning the timing of it.”

ABC Presenter:

“It is not completely unfair to question the timing of this.”

Senator Arlen Specter:

“It was on the front page of the New York Times today that the president was thinking of doing something presidential to try to focus attention away from his own personal problems.”

Yvonne Ridley:

The shock waves from Al Shifa are still impacting today, and perhaps no where more than back in the United States, a country forever shattered by its own terror attack. No one could guess what was going through President Bill Clinton’s mind as he attended the 10th anniversary memorial services for 9/11 but he certainly looked frailer and more fragile than ever before.

Yvonne Ridley:

There are those who still accuse his administration of massive intelligence failures which led to 9/11 but could there really be a link between August 20 1998 and September 11 2001?

Michael Scheuer:

“Intelligence when it goes wrong, it goes wrong. You do the best you can and sometimes things go to hell and there’s not a lot you can do about it.

“When you have politicians who are pretty cowardly and they’re always worried about their next election more than anything else they go after targets based sometimes on not, erm on not perfect information.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Now this page here has three pictures of Bin Ladin, a picture of Clinton and the wreckage of Al Shifa around it. What is the headline telling us?”

Mekki Elmograbi:

“The headlines er, ‘What’s the story of the huge American airplane. And this headline about a question and a headline praising Bin Ladin.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Of course the wider world hadn’t heard of Bin Ladin at all until after the Al Shifa strike.

Mekki Elmograbi:

“People inside Sudan they knew Bin Ladin at that time as a leader of jihadi people in Afghanistan. They have no information about al Qaida at that time, they have no information about what was the so-called terrorism, international terrorism and Islamic terrorism. They just knew that Bin Ladin was one of the leaders who defeated Russian people from Afghanistan.

“At that time we just considered this action as the beginning of a war, so all the people at that time just waited for another aistrike.

Yvonne Ridley:

“So it was a frightening period?”

Mekki Elmograbi:

“Yes, yes, yes. I think we spent the whole night just talking with our friends and journalists and colleagues. You know Sudanese people they love politics, OK, and they love analysis. We just waited there thinking there outside and all the guards of other factories and they opened the doors and people came there and we just spent the whole night just talking and making analysis of what is going to happen. All of us realized that this is … would be the beginning of a war.”

TIME CODE : 30:00 _35:00

Lord Nazir Ahmed:

“Well I’ve been going to Sudan and in Khartoum since 1996 … and straight after when I became a member of the House of Lords I visited and I know that the Americans had bombed a factory and I wanted to go and visit that.

“And when I actually went to visit this factory I saw lots of evidence of bottles of medicines, antibiotics that were made – everywhere you could see where medicine, antibiotics were made and there were lots of old bottles, new bottles and lots of rubble.

And so seeing with my own eyes this was very obvious that it was a factory that was making medicine that had been bombed. And I just couldn’t believe that why this factory was being bombed or had been bombed when they were making medicines.

“I know lots of small cases where Americans have been involved. But on a bigger scale you can see where they have their own interests and political interests, you can bring out Osama bin Ladin with his full robes supporting President Bush for his election campaigns and lo and behold he gets elected and then when you want to get rid of him you don’t see his evidence and of course he’s now dead.”

Osama bin Ladin:

“Whenever you hear them claim that that something is false, that is actually a blatant lie.”

Sana Hamad Alawad:

“We believe also at that time, USA they need to send a message for another people … what happened in Sudan is a wrong message from Clinton to Islamic movements, especially al Aaida, that means there is no borders for what the Americans doing and because of that they make the same thing, no problem.

“If you attack a civil people and a civilian and a civil organisation and a civil building in Khartoum and there’s a lot of people and it’s a crowded area that means they can do the same thing. And they do it in September 11 in New York.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“Do you think September 11 can be traced back to the Al Shifa factory.

Sana Hamad Alawad:

“Yes”.

Yvonne Ridley:

“Do you think there is a direct link?”

Sana Hamad Alawad:

“Yes. Because in Al Shifa there is a hidden line that was destroyed.”

Bill Clinton:

“Today I ordered our armed forces to strike against terrorist facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Sana Hamad Alawad:

“They crossed this line and attacked people. Al Shifa was not a governmental factory, it’s a civil factory, it does not belong to the army or to even the ministries. It belongs to a Sudanese who is very famous, it’s an open area that people can make a tour on it. The attack it was not an empty area, but it is a crowded area and a lot of people around it, a lot of people their lives have changed for ever.”

Yvonne Ridley:

Bin Laden accused America of deliberately attacking Muslim countries and was so outraged about the targeting of the medicine factory he even made special mention of it during an interview that same year predicting a US-led war on Islam.

Osama bin Ladin:

“The target is not really Saddam Hussain, but the emerging power in the Islamic and Arab world. They attacked the Iraqi people and earlier besieged Libya because it had a chemical factory. They also attacked the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. One should note these things.”

Yvonne Ridley:

We heard previously from Irish film-maker Irwin Armstrong about how he was given unrestricted access in the factory to film wherever he wanted. During his time spent in Sudan he came to know and understand the politics surrounding one of Khartoum’s most infamous residents.

Irwin Armstrong:

“Well certainly the Sudanese always said that Osama bin ladin’s time in Sudan wasn’t related to terrorism or terrorist activities … but were more related to commercial ventures.

I think he’d left, maybe from memory, may be two years before the bombing and the Sudanese were keen to show that there wasn’t any links with al Qaida. Again I’m sure the Americans knew the extent of the links.

TIME CODE : 35:00 _39:52

Irwin Armstrong:

Obviously no one wants to admit a mistake and I’m sure at the time if there had been evidence that it was a legitimate target then that evidence would have been produced in defence of the action.

ABC News presenter:

“Which leaves open the possibility that President Clinton may, at some later date, once again send missiles in Bin Ladin’s direction. And if once again Americans find themselves asking whether Monica had something to do with it even if she doesn’t well that’s how it is these days with this president.”

Yvonne Ridley:

It wasn’t long before Osama bin Laden gave a warning to the world via the Al Jazeera satellite channel that revenge was on his mind.

Osama bin Ladin:

“Our duty - which we have carried out - is to spur on the Ummah to carry out Jihad for the sake of Allah against the US, Israel, and their supporters.

But by the virtue of Allah, and together with a large number of our brothers, we have formed the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and the Crusaders. We believe that for many of them, matters are proceeding very well, and they are able to move freely. We hope that Allah will help them to make the religion triumphant, and to take revenge on the Jews and Americans.

Yvonne Ridley:

Someone who understands the politics of the region better than most is security and intelligence analyst Dr David Hoile, an author of several books and papers on Sudan.

Dr David Hoile:

“You can draw a direct link … I think Zippergate for want of a better term, is a symptom of the American intelligence malaise or failure throughout the Clinton Administration. Their intelligence was basically politicised so they chose not to listen to things which they did not want to listen to or use things they did not want to hear.

“In 1996 the Government of Sudan offered the Americans Osama bin Ladin … ‘You want us to extradite him, you’ve actually been complaining about him having being in Sudan, we’ll send him to you.’ Just as they had sent back Carlos the Jackal in 1994 to France. So there was a history of this. OK. ‘He’s yours. You can have him.’

“The Americans said ‘no, no, no’… So basically the Sudanese called their bluff. The Americans then chose to pressurise them nonetheless to expel him from Khartoum and that’s exactly what the Sudanese did. And the rest is history … the rest is history.

“It was that monumental intelligence failure, reluctance to grasp the nettle in 1996 on behalf of the Clinton Administration that ultimately led to 9/11. And even two years on, as mentioned, in 1998, the Sudanese offered to give, or to handover, extradite, render key Al Qaida managers. Not the slightest interest.

“Even then after ’98 the Sudanese kept on trying to share intelligence with Washington on a group that would subsequently become al Qaida. And the information and intelligence which the Sudanese held was phenomenal. They knew every single person who had ever visited Osama bin Ladin in the Sudan. Hundreds, several hundred people were actually documented.

“The Americans and the British Government on occasion after occasion after occasion turned it down. ‘No we’re not interested in al Qaida, or whatever it’s called. We’re not interested in Bin Laden. We’re more concerned about Hamas and Hezbollah.

“And that disastrous intelligence failure you see actually culminating in 9/11. So yes, there;s a direct link. Zippergate is on that road.”

Michael Scheuer:

“And there’s many more people in the field today fighting us than there was in the summer of 1995. What I am afraid of is the killing of Osama bin Ladin will reinforce the idea that somehow we can continue to defend America by simply killing people or capturing them one at a time. It can’t be done.”

Yvonne Ridley:

The al Qaida chief’s reign as America’s most wanted came to an abrupt end in May 2011 when US Navy Seals assassinated the al Qaida chief inside his Pakistan home. Previous intelligence-led attempts to get him during the Clinton era were consistently flawed and wide of the mark.

Newscaster’s voice:

“There are reports this evening that he survived the attack.”

Osama bin Ladin:

“Praise be to God. The Americans apparently had the wrong information. I was not in Khost. I was not anywhere in the Pakstia Province. I was a few hundred kilometers away from that place.”

TIME CODE : 39:53_46:11

Michael Scheuer:

“All that we have left to defend ourselves with is the military intelligence services because we have not recognized the motivation of the enemy as what he says it is. It is our support for the Israelis, it’s the American government’s support for the Saudi police state.

“It’s the West’s exploitation of energy resources. It’s our presence on the Arabian Peninsula. These are very substantive things. In my mind there are much more important things to fight a war over than going to war to impose democracy that people don’t want.”

Bill Clinton:

“As we remember what happened in New York, the Pentagon and here all the rest of us have to honour those who were lost, to thank those who loved them, for keeping their memory alive, raising their children, finding the strength to go on with your own lives.

“I think we should also thank President Bush and those who served with him, Vice President Biden, President Obama and those who served with him, for keeping us from being attacked again. I thank them.

Dr Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani:

“The United States of America, as it grows weaker, as it becomes the butt of criticism by other nations, as the international system is reformed, then we can think of protection against such acts. Otherwise in today’s world the United States is acting with impunity..

“And no one seems to be able to exact punishment on them on their own being and they do more damage to the Iraqis, even more damage to the Afghani people as compared to Sudan. And no one can punish them or can stop them.”

Paul Bremer:

“Ladies and Gentlemen – we got him.”

Barak Obama:

“You can say to those families who lost loved ones to al Qaida’s terror justice has been done.”

Hilary Clinton:

“We came, we saw. He died.”

News journalist:

“If you have to say something to president Clinton now after the destruction of this factory, what are you going to say?”

Al Shifa employee:

“It’s a total loss to the nation. This company is providing medicines, was providing medicines, not just Sudan but to other countries too. We were exporting to Chad, Niger and neighbouring countries; and there was a good potential.”

Yvonne Ridley:

“On August 20th 1998 four American cruise missiles rained down on this site. It’s now known as Khartoum’s ground Zero. US President Bill Clinton said he was targeting the factory because he said this is where nerve gas was being made by al Qaida, by Osama bin Ladin to wreak havoc on the west.

“It turned out that he had targeted a pharmaceutical factory which produced medicines. Littered throughout the site and the rubble are these sort of bottles of medicines which could have saved lives, people fighting malaria, dysentery, children with diahorrea, all sorts of medicines were produced here. And it is almost impossible to quantify how many lives were lost as a result of this bombing. But we do know that 60 per cent of medicines in Sudan were manufactured on this site.

“It was described as one of the biggest US intelligence failures and still nobody has said sorry.”

Yvonne Ridley:

How is Sudan going to get justice for what happened on August the 20th 1998?”

Dr Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani:

“We’ll keep the issue up. The future generations must understand what happened and must be able to judge the United States accordingly. That’s why we keep the rubble as it is. As you said it is our Ground Zero. May be one day when we have a more just, equitable system internationally, we can find justice in that case.”

   

Coming Up Online