Documents seized from Afghans offer little

U.S. officials had hoped for clues to bin Laden

War On Terrorism

The World

October 30, 2001|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- The collection of documents, computer disks and other material seized during a nighttime raid by Special Forces in southern Afghanistan 10 days ago failed to produce the intelligence bonanza that the Pentagon had sought, military and government officials said yesterday.

Analysts in the region continue to review the material taken from a compound on the outskirts of Kandahar and belonging to the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. But an early assessment has disappointed senior military commanders who believed the cache might have clues to the whereabouts and operations of senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

A top aide to a senior Pentagon officer who was briefed on the raid, the only known American ground combat operation in Afghanistan, said the officer "wasn't all that impressed" with what had been learned.

The commando raid 10 days ago involved more than 100 Army Rangers and other forces parachuting and flying in by helicopter deep into Taliban-held territory. The raid focused on two targets 60 miles apart: one of Omar's residential complexes in Kandahar, and a remote airstrip to the southwest.

But the lack of specific information about the whereabouts of bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders appeared to be a reason why the military has not undertaken additional raids like the first.

"We have not turned the number of sources we'd hoped to," a senior military officer said.

The Pentagon has declined to discuss the raid, but some details have emerged. The entire mission lasted five to six hours, officials said, but very little time was spent on the ground.

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