THIS DOCUMENT does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law. Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information available Her Majesty's Government is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.
1. The clear conclusions reached by the Government are: Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001; Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda retain the will and resources to carry out further atrocities; The United Kingdom and United Kingdom nationals are potential targets; and Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were able to commit these atrocities because of their close alliance with the Taliban regime, which allowed them to operate with impunity in pursuing their terrorist activity.
2. The material in respect of 1998 and the USS Cole comes from indictments and intelligence sources. The material in respect of 11 September comes from intelligence and the criminal investigation to date. The details of some aspects cannot be given, but the facts are clear from the intelligence.
3. The document does not contain the totality of the material known to HMG, given the continuing and absolute need to protect intelligence sources.
4. The relevant facts show:
Al Qaeda is a terrorist organisation with ties to a global network, which has been in existence for over 10 years. It was founded, and has been led at all times, by Osama bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been engaged in a jihad against the United States, and its allies. One of their stated aims is the murder of US citizens, and attacks on America's allies.
Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda have been based in Afghanistan since 1996, but have a network of operations throughout the world.
The network includes training camps, warehouses, communication facilities and commercial operations able to raise significant sums of money to support its activity. That activity includes substantial exploitation of the illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan.
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and the Taliban regime have a close and mutually dependent alliance. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda provide the Taliban regime with material, financial and military support. They jointly exploit the drugs trade. The Taliban regime allows Bin Laden to operate his terrorist training camps and activities from Afghanistan, protects him from attacks from outside, and protects the drugs stockpiles.
Osama bin Laden could not operate his terrorist activities without the alliance and support of the Taliban regime. The Taliban's strength would be seriously weakened without Osama bin Laden's military and financial support.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have the capability to execute major terrorist attacks.
Osama bin Laden has claimed credit for the attack on US soldiers in Somalia in October 1993, which killed 18; for the attack on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, which killed 224 and injured nearly 5,000; and were linked to the attack on the USS Cole on 12 October 2000, in which 17 crew members were killed and 40 others injured.
They have sought to acquire nuclear and chemical materials for use as terrorist weapons.
In relation to the attacks on 11 September
5. After 11 September we learned that, not long before, Bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.
The detailed planning for the terrorist attacks of 11 September was carried out by one of Bin Laden's close associates. Of the 19 hijackers involved in 11 September, 2001, it has already been established that at least three had links with al Qaeda. The attacks on 11 September 2001 were similar in both their ambition and intended impact to previous attacks undertaken by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and also had features in common. …