The fall of 1993 was a dark time in the annals of U.S. foreign policy.

President Clinton organized an international relief effort to stem starvation amid a raging civil war in Somalia. U.S. military forces spearheaded the United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian mission.

The idea was to bring food to the civilians who needed it, while ensuring it was not grabbed by factions vying for power in the turbulent African nation.

The American people were led to believe that a massacre of 18 U.S. Rangers was the work of one of those militia groups – headed by a Somalian bandit by the name of Muhammad Farrah Aidid.

But, according to a detailed account of the operational planning of that attack in Yossef Bodansky’s “Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America,” the massacre was actually the result of a well-planned, well-executed ambush by terrorist forces overseen by Osama bin Laden and supported by the governments of Sudan, Iraq and Iran.

Beginning in 1992, bin Laden orchestrated the movement of 3,000 Yemeni veterans of the Afghanistan war into Somalia. They brought with them heavy weapons and terrorist equipment – including remote-controlled bombs, booby-trapped dolls and Stinger missiles. Bin Laden paid for the mission out of his own pocket to the tune of $3 million.

The idea was “to escalate the armed struggle against the United States,” according to Bodansky.

Aidid did indeed play a role. His men were trained in Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda as part of the master plan.

The Mogadishu operation was so important to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein that he sent his son Qusay to supervise the coming attacks on Americans.

In June a conference was held in Khartoum, Sudan, to plan a way to drag Americans in Somalia into a land war, street battles and ambushes “as was done in Vietnam.”

Bin Laden did his part – arranging for the movement of trucks, fuel, food, water, weapons, ammunition and explosives into Somalia from Sudan.

On Oct. 3, 1993, U.S.-U.N. forces learned about the presence of two of Aidid’s senior foreign policy advisers, Osman Salah and Muhammad Hassan Awali, at the Olympic Hotel. Quickly, a helicopter assault of 100 American troops was under way. The two were captured, as well as 22 other Aidid supporters.

But as the U.S. troops prepared to leave, they were caught in a well-organized ambush by more than a 1,000 guerrillas. Two helicopters were shot down and a third crash-landed at Mogadishu’s airport. The U.S. troops established a perimeter around the crash site, but found themselves surrounded and under heavy fire for 11 hours.

In that firefight, 18 American troops were killed, 78 were wounded and one helicopter pilot was captured.

The next day, the guerrillas celebrated a great victory over America – dragging the bodies of the U.S. servicemen through the streets of Mogadishu.

But it was hardly a force of rag-tag Somalian rebels that had trapped the Americans. The intelligence tip received by U.S. forces about the presence of Aidid’s men was the setting of a trap by a combination of Islamicist forces directed by bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The ensuing ambush was conducted by hard-core battle-hardened Arab “Afghans” and Iraqis. The main strike force consisted of troops trained by Iran and Iraq. Aidid’s forces were introduced later in large numbers to create the appearance of an enraged mob of Somalians taking revenge on U.S. forces.

“In several interviews and statements, Osama bin Laden has said that he considers his experience in Somalia a milestone in his evolution,” writes Bodansky. “Somalia was the first time he was involved in a major undertaking at the leadership level, exposed to the complexities of decision making and policy formulation. He established working relations with the intelligence services of Iran and Iraq that would prove useful in his rise to the top. Although he did not actually take part in the fighting in Mogadishu, his contribution to the Islamicist effort and ultimate victory was major and decisive. Bin Laden still defines the fighting in Mogadishu as one of his major triumphs against the United States.”

Related stories:

‘Bin Laden speaks for Muslim world’

Bin Laden is not irreplaceable

The enigmatic Osama bin Laden

Editor’s note: Yossef Bodansky’s “Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America” is available now in WorldNetDaily’s online store, ShopNetDaily.

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