Army Major: We Almost Had bin Laden in 2001

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 01:16 PM

By Martin Gould

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The former Army major who came close to killing Osama bin Laden a decade ago has spoken of his relief that the world’s most wanted terrorist has finally been taken out.

“I leaned back, put my hand to my forehead, closed my eyes, and exhaled about ten years of self-doubt in one long breath,” the unidentified officer wrote in The New Republic.

Osama bin Laden, Dalton Fury, Tora Bora, AP photoThe officer — who writes under the pen name “Dalton Fury” — was a Delta Force commander who was given the mission of hunting down bin Laden in Tora Bora in December 2001, three months after 9/11.

“We came very close to getting the Al Qaida leader, but he slipped from our grasp,” he wrote. “At one point in the battle, according to intelligence we’d received, I may have come within 2,000 meters of bin Laden — a haunting memory.”

Dalton Fury described how he nearly changed the course of history. “We had bin Laden cornered high in the mountains of Tora Bora. He was given every opportunity to stand and fight to the death — to martyr himself and secure his place in Islamic extremist circles for eternity as a true representative of the Prophet Mohammed. After all, it’s what he had publicly said he desired. Instead, the leader of Al Qaida called his followers to arms inside their mountain redoubt, while he turned tail and fled.”

The ex-officer said his wife woke him on Sunday night with the news that President Obama was to make an important television announcement. They turned on Fox News to hear Geraldo Rivera suggest Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi could have been killed.

“But that didn’t fit. I knew POTUS speaking late on a Sunday night meant it was something bigger. And what came to mind was the personal burden I’ve carried since we lost bin Laden at Tora Bora.”

When it became clear it was bin Laden who was dead, Dalton Fury says he started seeing fallen comrades who had died in the years since. “I could see their smiles, hear their radio calls, and smell their sweat and blood.

“I tried to hide the watery eyes from my wife as I thought about the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of September 11. I thought of their family members still dealing with the personal loss. I thought of the thousands of servicemen and women that have been killed or maimed since the War on Terror began.”

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