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Pattaya Daily News

22 December 2006 :: 16:12:13 pm 31158

French Special Forces Twice Had Bin Laden In Their Gun Sites But Took No Action

As France prepares to pull 200 of their elite special forces out of Afghanistan, reports by France Info are circulating that on two occasions, in 2003 and 2004, French special forces troopers had Bin Laden in their gun sites, but when no go- ahead was forthcoming from the US commanders of the operation - Enduring Freedom – of which the French were a part, Bin Laden escaped. A claim that was strenuously denied by the French Ministry of Defence spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau
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            Furthermore, he declared that even if it had been true, that US permission was unnecessary as the French were operating autonomously. Further confusion was produced by the US coalition chief spokesman, Colonel Tom Collins, who maintained that the last known position of Bin Laden was in the Tora Bora mountains in Eastern Afghanistan in 2001 and that he had no knowledge of any French troops having been close to Bin Laden on the two dates in question. 

            The reporter from French Info, however, was categorical, maintaining that he had had the information firsthand, and was merely substantiating a statement that had been by Gen. Henri Bentegeatm, the former head of the French armed forces, who had declared to France’s Europe-1 radio station on March 15, 2004 that “Our men were not very far. On several occasions, I even think that he slipped out of a net that was well closed.” 

            The French special forces pullout may be indicative of France’s loss of confidence in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, although French officials maintained they are still firmly committed to supporting the fight against the insurgents and cited the fact that 1,100 troops still remain based in Kabul. 

            There is a difference of opinion between the French and the US about the role of special forces in Afghanistan. The French maintaining that they are no longer ideal for the purpose. “The conditions no longer correspond to what the Special Forces do,” a spokesman for the French Joint Chiefs of Staff. Capt. Christophe Prazuck maintained, whereas the US commanders believe the work of Special Forces soldiers is still critical in Afghanistan, whether in small-group reconnaissance missions, mentoring Afghan soldiers or supporting conventional NATO and Afghan troops in combat.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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