Monday, May 09, 2005

US spy ordered to bring home bin Laden's head on dry ice

Yahoo! News
US spy ordered to bring home bin Laden's head on dry ice

US spy chiefs ordered agents to deliver Osama bin Laden's severed head in a box of dry ice and hoist heads of other Al-Qaeda leaders on pikes, a retired field officer has disclosed.

As America reeled in shock days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, former CIA officer Gary Schroen was sent to Afghanistan to help the opposition Northern Alliance to topple bin Laden's hosts the Taliban.

He told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast on Monday and Tuesday that he stopped by the office of then-CIA counterterrorism director Cofer Black for final instructions.

He said he was told: "'your basic marching orders are to link up with the Northern Alliance and get their cooperation militarily and they will take on the Taliban.

"'When we break the Taliban, your job is to capture bin Laden, kill him and bring his head back in a box full of dry ice.'"

Schroen was also ordered to kill other al-Qaeda leaders suspected in the plot, which saw terrorists slam planes into the New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people.

It was the first time in 30 years with the CIA he had been ordered to set out to kill a target rather than try to bring them in alive, Schroen told NPR's Morning Edition program.

He said he told Black, '"Sir, those are the clearest orders I have ever received, I can certainly make pikes out in the field but I don't know what I'll do about dry ice to bring the head back but we will manage something."

A week after the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush told reporters he wanted Osama bin Laden and recalled Wild West posters that demanded suspects "dead or alive."

But the suspected terror mastermind was never caught and Schroen told NPR that CIA operatives found it hard to get close enough to strike bin Laden, partly due to his ability to move quickly around the country.

"We could never tell where the man was going to be that night," Schroen, who is promoting a new book and believes bin Laden is now hiding out in tribal areas of Pakistan, told NPR.

Schroen, now 63, and his six-man team were among the first Americans into Afghanistan after September 11, and his book "First In" relates his dangerous mission behind enemy lines.

originally published May 3, 2005