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The programme was very good and neutral, it didn't pick this or that side, but having seeing some of the comments here in the forum, I want to say this: al-Qaeda is not the type of organisation to be easily defeated, not within a long nor short period of time.
The report was too anti-US, anti-UK. Little info was given on the hidden war. The war in Afghanistan was a massive blow against the terrorists. This time we hit them at their home ground rather than just talk about it!
Where's Bin Laden? Who cares, the man's a nut! Let him go, the sooner you forget about him the sooner people can look to the future and sort this problem out, whatever the cause. He's probably dead anyway, is this man going to end up like Elvis?
I actually believe in what Mr Bin Laden is fighting for. He doesn't want us westerners to enforce our culture and values on Islamic countries. I wonder why we find his ideology such a threat (I personally don't believe he was behind 9/11- not enough evidence for my liking really). I also didn't believe what you reported about American soldiers killed in operation Anaconda. The BBC reported that there were no US injuries but now they say there were around 70. We English really would appreciate the truth.
The real soul searching must be done in the middle-east. A group of countries with failed political, economic, and educational institutions cannot continue blaming all of their troubles on the west. The only way forward is to give up blame shifting, and concentrate on fixing the problem.
I think Mr William Miller of Bridlington has missed a very crucial point in his argument regarding OBL and the Al Qaeda. This network and their leader are not Afghanistan specific. Afghanistan was their "Markaz" (centre) and training ground. Pakistan may certainly have had a hand in promoting the Taleban, but as far as Al Qaeda were concerned Pakistanis were never allowed anywhere near their inner sanctums. Therefore to caste aspersions on retired Pakistani generals having a hand in aiding Al Qaeda runaways, is to say the least, most unfair. Pakistan has bent backwards as Mr. Jan from Reading said, to aid the Coalition in its war against terrorism, yet we have people who doubt Pakistan's sincerity. Pakistan has now itself become a target of Indian and Al Qaeda terrorists, yet the world wants us to prove our bonafide. I have a word of advice for those who are waging a war against terrorism: if they think by destroying the caves of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan they have rid the world of terrorism then they are sadly mistaken. Al-Qaeda operatives are spread all over the world and they are the ones who are far more dangerous and need to be ferreted rather than targeting Pakistani intelligence agencies and retired generals. I think President Bush needs to have a fresh look at his flawed policy in combating terrorism.
The programme was reasonably good, but the usual story of so-called "free" media. BBC was simply giving complete backing to the American viewpoint. The real question is who benefited the most from the 9/11 bombing? America of course. They now have established military bases all over central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. I don't think USA ever had any intention of capturing Bin Laden, because if they did, they will have to leave the region and given that China will have the biggest emerging market in the coming years. USA need to be in central Asia, in order to progress its capitalist ideology.
I believe that Bin Laden is sitting comfortably right inside Musharraf's home, and the US knows about it. But if they catch him so easily there will be no reason for the unreasonable defence spending by the US government and that's why they are dragging on the affair. He will probably be caught or declared killed six months before Mr Bush finishes his term, so the republicans can gain voter confidence for the next elections.
I believe that Bin Laden is in the tribal areas of Pakistan - to be specific, Waziristan Agency. Villagers of this area say Bin Laden is backed by the locals as well as ex military Pakistani Pashtun generals who resigned when Musharraf went against the Taleban.
If Mr Laden is indeed seriously ill why do the intelligence services not try to track him down through the equipment required for haemodialysis?
I'm amazed at the negativity of people towards our own armed forces, these young men and women are doing a thankless, dangerous job and to subject them to such interviews as you did Brigadier Lane is appalling.
I'm sure the armed forces would love to deploy huge numbers of troops and machinery, which would obviously be the best way to capture such a fugitive, unfortunately they can't because of political restraints forced on them, surely we can all understand this?
I can only add my support to those people who have mentioned Ireland on this page. America funded the IRA for decades while they were attacking our armed forces and killing innocent women and children, all of a sudden, the Americans have a taste of what they helped the IRA to do to us... not nice is it?
Finally, I find it very difficult to believe that Bin Laden is still in Afghanistan. What we are dealing with here is a very intelligent man who has practically unlimited funding. If he was clever enough to mastermind the biggest act of terrorism the world has ever seen why would he be stupid enough to sit and wait for revenge to be acted out upon him?
It's not rocket science, just common sense.
America is having another Vietnam. Al-Qaeda is a complex organisation with followers all over the world. America has gone into this so-called war thinking it will be over quickly and they can eradicate the organisation quickly. America is the biggest hypocrite in this war. There has been terrorism going on in the world for decades but when they are the victims they want to eradicate it all over the world.
I am extremely concerned about the actions of the USA and their bombing campaign. Relentless bombing of Afghanistan does not seem to me to be the way forward, especially in the light of recent tragedies - wouldn't it be better not to alienate the people of Afghanistan (not to mention those who would use this as a reason for further attacks against the USA) by mercilessly bombing civilian settlements? America has a bad track record when it comes to "friendly fire" and this only serves to make things worse for the rest of the forces out there who are trying to wade their way through this mess. Dare I say it, but is it time for change in the actions being taken?
I watched your programme with some of my Afghani friends. They were wringing their hands and saying "Julia - why do they make so much about half a dozen soldiers' deaths here, 3,000 civilians in New York there, when they've supported a war for decades in which we've known of 26,000 buried alive in one day?" Isn't it time we heard the stories of some of our refugees?
Well by going through some of the comments on the forum, I would like to divert the attention towards the basis of this so called "War on terrorism". First of all we should take out the word "War" from all this discussion as it is "Invasion" not war, which is not against Afghanistan but for some greater global targets and deals to be accomplished. In the meantime these forces and allies did get the chance to manifest their hatred against Muslims and specially Islam. I do not understand that despite of all the assurance and proper feedback from Pakistan on this so-called war why we are still in the bad book of the world powers .
Anyway I consider this Bin Laden hunt as a pre-staged drama.
I thought Britain was an ally of the United States in this war. From the comments in this discussion I gather otherwise.
Will his capture or death change things? The west has been hated since the crusades (and the Muslims won those) - what will it take to change the thinking of a people?
I'd bet my house that Bin Laden is dead. The only thing that al-Qaeda has managed so far is a half-wit with a bomb in his shoe. They say that Bin Laden and Omar are still alive and that the Taleban are regrouping, but they have yet to make an appearance or launch a major attack. The USA has been very successful and I applaud them.
First of all I would like to say that I feel deeply saddened when I hear people blaming or persecuting Pakistan . If it is done by Indians I can understand as their hatred for the Pakistanis is as great as al-Qaeda's hatred for the west.
To the rest of the world I would like to clarify that the existing government in Pakistan has bent over backwards to help US troops find al-Qaeda agents and terrorists, as they are not only a threat to the western world but to Pakistan itself. Pakistan also had to face the brunt of al-Qaeda's reprisal attacks in the form of terrorist attacks and suicide bombing in Karachi. I know that corruption is endemic in that part of the world but that is true for the civilian governments . The military is known to be a non-corrupt organisation and secondly no military government would jeopardise its homeland's security to give safe passage to these agents of terror.
Lastly if India had not massed its troops along the eastern border at this unruly time, and given more time and control to the US and Pakistani troops, these terrorists would have never had the chance to infiltrate us from the west.
The members of al-Qaeda and the Taleban have said again and again that they have regrouped and that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well. But of course they are going to say that. But in fact, many of these men perished in the air strikes on the Afghan countryside and I believe that Bin Laden is among the dead. Plus these people say that they want the US and the UK to leave. Well, if they would stop terrorizing innocent people I'm sure we would with pleasure. The terrorists need to realize that they are the wrong ones, not us. We didn't send a plane full of innocent people crashing into a building full of even more innocent people. These animals must be stopped.
Everyone talks about the "root" cause of terror. I would like to know from those who talk about the "root cause", what did those Sept. 11th victims do to al-Qaeda? It is a shame that even in 21st century there is a justification of terrorism.
What measures are in place in the international community to make sure the Americans are not jeopardising the world's security? If they are doing anything illegal what can be done to bring them to justice?
I completely agree with Ibrahim Habib.
I do not think that the Americans are doing a good job and anyway they will not find Bin Laden. I think the Americans and allies are just wasting there time.
It's pretty clear that it is the terrorists who are winning this battle. We have the USA, indiscriminately bombing Afghanistan, we have Israel, terrorising Palestinians, shooting them as they ride taxis to the shops. They are both instances of terrorism in my eyes.
Also, as mentioned by Nava Whiteford, the capture of OBL will mean nothing, it may even just increase the attacks for "revenge". I also agree with Seng.
The War Against Terrorism (interesting acronym) should be re-named "Bombing Campaign Against Countries that Disagree with the USA."
Another interesting thought: The only two countries opposed to the international war crimes court are the world's two biggest killers of civilians.
If the USA could act as an honest broker in resolving the Palestinian crisis, the reason for fighting Americans using terror tactics will end in an instant. Millions of Muslim people will stand by America and help in the war against terror.
This was a disappointing documentary. You can always tell that documentary makers are stuck for ideas when they plump the well-tested crowd pleaser of exposing deficiencies in US policy. They could have made virtually the same documentary if Osama Bin Laden was dead and al-Qaeda had been totally wiped out - "Al-Qaeda may have been wiped out but the US has failed to ....". There is no end to stories like these.
I would say that most of the people in Afghanistan do not even know who Bin Laden is and what he stands for. This is the reason he and his network are able to remain hidden amongst the civilians of Afghanistan. These residents probably just view any foreign troops as invaders and do their best to cloak the terrorists without knowing their true agenda. When you cannot distinguish the enemy from civilians, it is almost impossible to win. Infiltration at a domestic/guerrilla level is the only way to gain any ground in the war against terrorism.
I feel that since September 11 so much has been written about Afghanistan by people who don't really know too much about the place or the people.
I first went to Afghanistan in 1990 before too many people including journalists got there. I was in the field, eating off the same spoon and drinking out of the same glass as a dozen other Afghans, and sleeping with them and covered in fleas. I feel I know the Afghan whether he be Sunni, Shia
or Ismaeli, Pashtun Tajik or Uzbek. All the time I was there I never felt threatened by the Afghans although occasionally if there were Saudi Wahabi around I would keep a low profile. It was not difficult as I was dressed as the Afghan and blended in quite well. It is the Afghan people, especially the women that have been sorely abused for decades, living in abject misery.
How many people really know the Afghan? Where do his first loyalties lie? is it to his country, to his province, to his tribe or to his family?
I was in Jalalabad when the Taleban came steaming up from Kandahar. Anyone who could take over from these tin pot commanders who had absolutely no regard for their own people was welcome by the local populace.
Al-Qaeda hasn't just arrived recently, the Saudis were there in 1990 when I was there and I slept in the same caves as they did in Paktia province adjacent to the Waziri region of Pakistan in the tribal area.
After the September 11 attack on America I feel that the Americans or for that matter anyone who is attacked has the right to seek out the perpetrators.
The Americans or any of the allies involved really had no chance of catching the Taleban or any al-Qaeda elements after landing by helicopter in the mountains with their huge packs of equipment. Afghans are like mountain goats. The Marines would have had all on to catch them in their gym kit.
I knew that the bolt hole would probably be Parichinar or Mirim Shah. To that effect I contacted the relevant ministry months ago to suggest where the bolt holes might be. They said someone would get back to me. No one ever did so, so they escaped over a very porous border. The Durand line was pretty arbitrary. The Pashtun on one side of the line has relatives on the other. It would not be a good idea to rely on the Pakistani authorities too much as bribery is endemic. Money more than good intelligence is probably the key in that part of the world. Having gone to ground al-Qaeda will probably be with us a long time. Some sections of the Pakistan military have a lot to answer for, for what's happened in Afghanistan.
I worry where this war on terror is going. Where it will lead? - world war three perhaps. If anyone has anything positive to give me, please do. I have a young son and what an uncertain future I sense.
Bin Laden has been portrayed by the US as enemy number one. If we look in detail we see that Bin Laden helped the Afghans fight and push back the Soviet Union. If a man like Bin Laden was to help us fight a foreign power we would support that person. The US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan all helped Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda and Taleban through training and funding during the Soviet invasion. If we want to root out evil we need to replace our leaders with those who want peace, those who are willing to help third world countries, those who are willing to IMPROVE COMMUNICATION with other countries. Instead of spending money on nuclear weapons, spend that money under an International Communication forum where countries can present their problems to each other and receive help. In my opinion Bin Laden (if he did) attacked the trade centre for a reason, not because he hates freedom. That is rubbish. We need to find out why most of the third world hates the US so much.
I thought the programme was a good piece of journalism, but a point that was missed is that whilst Al-Qaeda won't be defeated by a series of conventional battles, they will in a longer running low-key series of guerrilla style engagements such as the British fought in Malaya, Oman and Borneo in the 1960s and 70s. There was not enough reporting or speculation on the "behind the scenes" conflict that is undoubtedly going on. Witness the arrest of the "dirty bomber" and the foiling of the plot to attack shipping in Gibraltar. A great report but a bit too negative.
How many civilian casualties have there been in Afghanistan since the War Against Terror started in 2001? I also want (desperately) to tell the leaders of both UK and USA that killing begets killing, brandishing weapons does not stop war .... it fuels the global arms trade of which you are both big players and allows innocent civilian casualties to be ignored and their official numbers reduced. WHEN WILL THE GLOBAL TERRORISM OF BOTH COMBATANT SIDES END? And what will it take to bring peace to our beautiful planet? AS ONE OF SIX BILLION GLOBALISTAS I LOVE THIS PLANET AND DEMAND AN END TO THE ARMS TRADE AND WARS, INCLUDING WAR AGAINST TERROR.
After September the 11th president Bush declared the war on terror. Being in an established country reassured his people that this threat would be eliminated ASAP. But as history shows, terrorist networks aren't that compliant. Think of Northern Ireland for example.
What I don't understand is why people believe president Bush to be more than a spokesperson for the American people. Am I the only person who has noticed the amount of new and high tech equipment being used in this campaign? As history shows once again, war time provides a great period to show off and test arms equipment.
So is this a war on terror, or a perfect opportunity to advertise arms equipment?
But thin theories aside, I do believe in this campaign. But being born in 1982, expect that I wont last to see it accomplished.
I get a strong feeling that the Americans and her "allies" have been unsuccessful in trapping Bin Laden and other senior lieutenants, due to a failure to commit large numbers of troops at the right time to the battle. This is of course to minimise casualties, but the chance of capturing such a guy at all will need a very large sacrifice. I would say something like 100,000 men to catch him alive and half that to capture him dead!
Ibrahim is right. Though the US has every right to pursue Bin Laden, it needs to do some soul searching as to why it has become a target. It's no good being tough on terrorism without being tough on the causes of terrorism. However, I feel that until the USA is able to separate its reliance on Arabian oil from its foreign policy in the area, it will be more concerned with US voters gas-guzzling cars than the true aspirations and human rights of people in the Middle East
Good programme, well researched. It showed how dealing with this enemy needs a deep understanding of their religion and whole lifestyle ethos. Also once again it's the Brits who have to go in and cover American backsides! I am not anti American, just have a realistic understanding in the broadest terms possible that the American hierarchy (government and military) place too much reliance on avoiding casualties.
SORRY gentlemen these adversaries (al-Qaeda) will cause massive fatalities in the troops, and will not be defeated by shear military might. This conflict will be a war of attrition and whoever has the stronger stomach will win.
God help us all if we should fail!
Seng, the world will be a much better and safer place when terrorists are wiped of the face of the earth. We're only in this war because we were forced into it...how can you be so ignorant.
I have always had a low opinion of the US military ever since they blew up clearly defined British tanks in the Gulf War but having seen this evening's Panorama I am absolutely amazed by their naivety and stupidity.
One soldier upon entering a cave and finding high-tech telecommunications equipment said "when you're back in America you don't think of them as being intelligent".
He will go far perhaps President maybe?
But in all seriousness it seems like the attempts to catch Bin Laden and round up his men failed as a result of politicians deciding body bags don't look good especially when the election comes round so they used amateurish local warlords who were susceptible (to anyone with half a brain) to bribery and generally do a unsatisfactory job.
Had the Americans/coalition put the Armed Forces to task like they are paid to do the result could have been different but unfortunately they have been allowed to slip away regroup, harvest their hatred and we will pay the price maybe not today maybe not tomorrow but they will take their revenge.
Is America aware of the fact that the loyalty of Pakistani soldiers and in particular the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) lies with Bin Laden? Has America dismissed the possibility that Bin Laden has not only already encountered the Pakistani military, but has also bribed them into allowing him free passage? If he could use these tactics in Afghanistan where rival factions hate him, then why won't he use them in Pakistan where he's liked due to their India-centric fear?
Historically the only way to destroy a liberal democracy is to force it towards totalitarianism. In this regard I feel Bin Laden's attacks have succeeded beyond his wildest expectations!
Why is it that before September 11 America was quite happy to turn a blind eye to all the fundraising that went on for the IRA in America through "Irish Americans" but as soon as an act of terrorism is carried out on the US mainland then all of a sudden there is a "Global War On Terrorism". Talk about blinkers and now that it has happened on US soil we are all supposed to support and back America... well sorry where were they over the last 50 plus years when their countrymen were funding the terrorists against our country???? Hits hard doesn't it boys...welcome to what we've been putting up with for a lot longer that you have since Sept 11.
As usual, another heavily biased and anti-American rant passing itself off as good reporting. The constant sniping at British and American military forces, and the continual refusal to think in military terms, was typical of this form of "journalism". Aggressively interviewing Brig. Lane while ignoring the answers he was giving suggests to me that it is not he who is "hapless", but the reporter in question.
Perhaps those who like to pass judgement on military affairs should make more of an effort to understand them, before they inflict their nuggets of wisdom on the rest of us.
Your report was interesting and gave a partial insight into this new "world war".
I was curious that there was still this Vietnam era obsession of the BODY COUNT. As the US Army Commander tried, as did the RM, to put across (we) don't count bodies. This is a COIN, counter-terror, asymmetric, ..... war a body count is not the start or end of the analysis.
Your report did highlight the difference, potential weakness, of the US Army; it does not appear to have the same mind set as their British Allies. The British Army has 50+ years of experience of this type of warfare and are mental geared to the long haul.
Bin Laden is the major financier and one of the main planners but targeting an individual is a PR process, not a strategy for winning the war.
We will because our military will oppose the killers of women and children until the politicians come to an agreement that excuses them. (see Ulster).
Moderate Muslim friends vehemently oppose this terror network that blasphemes the Koran but despairs at the Western response which tarnishes these criminals as Muslims.
Maybe it will end in my lifetime, more likely it will be in my great grandson's time.
The tone of your interview with the Brigadier was a disgrace!
One of the prime tasks of the infantry is to deny the ground to the enemy. All of your questions tried to insinuate that the mission was a failure because no one was killed. The Royal Marines Commando did a magnificent job where the Americans were failing. Had we killed some terrorists and lost some of our chaps the BBC would be much happier because the "story" would be much more juicy! The BBC used to be renowned for its impartiality. I would dearly love your reporters to experience the real thing instead of traipsing around asking questions that show that either they have been very poorly briefed on matters military, or that they are extremely biased against our military.
Whilst not in the front line of the Anglo-American war on terror, I think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of crucial importance. So long as this conflict remains unresolved, organisations like al-Qaeda will find no shortage of sympathisers and recruits in the Muslim world. George Bush has to look long and hard at this and ask why is America the enemy for an organisation like al-Qaeda? The perceived injustice of the issue of Palestine is central to this. Diplomatic efforts must be intensified at a level at least equal to the military struggle if the war on terror is to succeed.
Why is it that in tonight's Panorama that all people killed in Afghanistan are "innocent"? Not once were the real innocent people, who were working in the twin towers, and all those killed since, called innocent! Al-Qaeda has a good friend in the BBC!
I believe America has already captured Bin Laden, after all should they announce his capture/death they would only create a martyr (if he is not one already). In this world of spin the least amount of damage would be caused by pretending he is still in Pakistan. I may be a conspiracy theorist but doesn't it seem odd that India was ready to launch a nuclear offensive against its neighbour (puppet on a string) after DECADES of dispute over Kashmir when it is suspected al-Qaeda forces are holed up there.
Dear Jane - I read your article in the Sunday paper some weeks ago - the TV programme was much less informative! It lacked depth, in that you could have given an indication of how we could go about planning an approach to finding Bin Laden, how he may be dealt with in a way that would keep on board Islam throughout the world and not alienate those peoples. In effect, what gave rise to produce al-Qaeda in the first place and what mechanisms, maybe over a period of years, could be deployed in a "hearts and minds" approach to the situation. Did the Americans learn nothing from the 20 years the Russians spent there? You could have widened the programme out to link it to the proposal to conduct some form of pre-emptive action against Iraq. I don't know about you but this scares the hell out of me. The TV programme, in the main, just recounted history and didn't inform me as to where things may be going - were you hamstrung in what you were allowed to report?
As al-Qaeda is constructed of cells that function autonomously, is the capture of Osama Bin Laden of anything other than political importance to the United States/west?
Again, the capital questions are avoided. Why did Bin Laden meet with a CIA agent last year (documented)?
Is it probable that a Boeing fell into the Pentagon, causing such light damage or debris as seen on the pictures ?
Are the simultaneous anthrax-attacks upon Democratic leaders the work of al-Qaeda?
What are the links between the Bush and the Bin Laden dynasty ?
These are perfectly legitimate journalistic questions, and every intelligent person with common sense should look after answers.
Why can't intelligence go after al-Qaeda's money? If they did that surely that would cripple the organisation's regeneration and strength? Most of his money may be hidden in fronts around the world but what's to stop the coalition using the war against terrorism act stealing the al-Qaeda's cash?
Jane Corbin's report is a very good insight into the background of the search for Osama Bin Laden. The US army went to Afghanistan to destroy the terrorist network. The manhunt for Bin Laden moved to the hidden caves of Tora Bora. This operation failed due to warlords letting the fugitives escape. With it being learnt that Bin Laden had fled to Pakistan, this development complicated operations even further. This was politically sensitive for the Americans. I think that the terrorist network intelligence has been under estimated. They seemingly have modern equipment which was not expected. The most concerning thing of all, is the mistakes made by the Americans in trying to capture Bin Laden. Many innocent men, women, and children have been killed in the pursuit of Bin Laden. To this day he is still at large, and hopefully one day he will be caught, soon.
The world will be a better, safer place when the US army (the real terrorist) is eliminated from all non-US territories.
The so-called "war against terror" is being used as a smokescreen to further the cause of neo-fascist elements within the governments of the US and UK who seem determined to drag us all into police states. I wish they would have the decency to drop their claims to be defending our liberty!
Ever paused a while to research into the root cause of this so-called terrorism? This will do the world a lot of good.
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