US Drones Tracking Bin Laden Operated from Germany Without Berlin's Consent: Reports
MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti) - American drones, used for hunting down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, were operated from NATO's Ramstein Air Base in Germany without the knowledge of the German government, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Wednesday, citing US military officials, who took part in the operation.
The article, published on Wednesday, says that the United States began hunting down bin Laden in the summer of 2000, after he orchestrated the terrorist attacks on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. American Special Services made a decision to track and liquidate the al-Qaeda leader who was presumed to be hiding in Afghanistan. In this operation the US command used Predator drones launched from Uzbekistan which was authorized by local authorities. However the devices were operated from Ramstein Air Base in the German federal state Rhineland-Palatinate via satellite communication.
According to the newspaper, drones had spotted bin Laden within days of starting the operation. 'Such kind of special services' work was something we only knew about from Hollywood movies,' senior-ranking security official Richard Clarke said, as quoted by newspaper.
However, at that time the drones were unable to destroy the target as they were not equipped with Hellfire rockets. According to the newspaper's sources, Pentagon lawyers were against measures such as operating rockets from German soil without the German government's consent as that would mean breaking a Status of Forces Agreement.
One of the sources noted that the operation was conducted without the knowledge of the German federal government, because US Command doubted it would be possible to keep the operation covert, with Berlin knowing about it.
Osama bin Laden was killed in a May 2011 raid by US navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
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