Saturday, August 21, 2004

Six Weeks After That, We Could've Had Dr. Octopus AND Magneto 

Via Zemblan patriots J.M. and J.D.: Soldier of fortune, freelance torturer, convicted con man and former Fox News analyst Jonathan Keith Idema told the AP from the National Security Directorate in Kabul that he was thisssssss close to nailing Osama bin Laden:
An American on trial for allegedly torturing Afghan terror suspects in a private jail claimed Saturday in his first interview from custody that he was hot on the heels of Osama bin Laden and other militant leaders when he was arrested on July 5.

Jonathan Idema told AP that he had official sanction from Afghans and Americans to hunt down terrorists and said he has been prevented from showing the evidence in court. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Idema was waging a private war. He could be sentenced to 20 years in a crumbling Afghan prison if convicted.

“We would have had [renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar in 14 days or less. We would have had bin Laden in less than 30 days” had he and his team not been arrested, said Mr. Idema, a colourful former U.S. Army soldier who spent three years in jail in the 1980s for allegedly bilking 60 companies out of more than $200,000 in goods . . . .

After initially denying any knowledge of Mr. Idema's activities, the U.S. military announced in July that it had received a prisoner from the American and held him for more than a month at Bagram Air Base before deciding that he was not the man Mr. Idema said he was. A military spokesman said the military did not realize Mr. Idema was working on his own at the time . . . .

He said that earlier this year he sent information to the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Watch command centre, including the address of a hide-out then being used by Mr. bin Laden. He said he passed the information along while he was living in Fort Bragg, N.C., in January or February.

“I gave [the FBI] bin Laden's exact address right outside Peshawar,” a northwestern Pakistani city, he said. “I gave them the grid co-ordinates, the street and house number and everything. They got there five days after he left. It's like, what are you doing? Do you not want to catch bin Laden?” He said the FBI later confirmed bin Laden had been at the house . . . .

Mr. Idema said he also passed along the location and satellite phone number of Ayman al-Zawahri, the alleged al-Qaeda No. 2, but the FBI again failed to act. He said the incident occurred earlier this year and that his frustration prompted him to come to Afghanistan himself in April.

He repeated claims that he had also uncovered a plot to send 36 al-Qaeda agents into the United States, kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai and attack the main U.S. base at Bagram with a high tech explosive that he said is not detectable by bomb-sniffing dogs.

“This is too unbelievable for me to make up,” he said.

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