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Homeland Security

Bin Laden stops using satellite phone

Event Details
Primary OrganizationAl-Qaeda
Time Summer 19981
ParticipantsOsama bin Laden
Narrative and Notes
ReliableShortly after the East Africa embassy bombings, sometime in late August or early September 1998, Osama bin Laden stopped using his satellite phone. His conversations were monitored by the National Security Agency, and his change in behavior cost the U.S. intelligence apparatus a tremendous resource.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush and other administration officials pinned the blame for this on press leaks and unspecified news reports regarding bin Laden's use of the satellite phone.

The 9-11 Commission report was more specific, pointing to a Aug. 21, 1998, story in the Washington Times.

This was bogus; the story asserted nothing that wasn't already in public domain regarding bin Laden and his satellite telephone.

For a full discussion, see this Washington Post story.
1The 9-11 Commission Report. July 22, 2004. Chapter 4.
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