Deferring to Doug

I’m really glad that Douglas Farah made a comment on my “last entry about Charles Taylor and Al Qaeda”:, because if he hadn’t I never would have realized that “he has a blog”: (Farah, not Taylor, that is.)

Check it out for the West African diamond trade, Al Qaeda, Victor Bout, and more, all from an investigative journalist who’s been following this stuff for years.

UPDATE: I finally got caught up on all his last several posts myself. This bit regarding the Special Forces team that didn’t go after Ghailani in Liberia in November 2001 is particularly interesting, and clears up the questions I had about the matter:

In November 2001, the Defense Intelligence Agency had multiple source, reliable intelligence reports that it could score a major blow against the al Qaeda network that had just carried out 9-11. Their reports said Khalfan Ghailani, the senior al Qaeda operative arrested last week in Pakistan, was hiding out in Gbatala, Liberia, under the protection of Charles Taylor. This was just two weeks after my initial story on al Qaeda’s ties to the blood diamond trade. Gbatala was the ultra-secure base of Taylor’s ill-named Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), housed right next door to Taylor’ s sprawling private farm.

With virtually no forces in the area, the Pentagon ordered a small U.S. Special Forces team carrying out a training operation in neighboring Guinea, to prepare a snatch operation. With Ghailani were three other suspected al Qaeda terrorists, including Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, Ghailani’s partner in the West Africa diamond buying operation. The two had also worked together in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in East Africa. The other two were not identified.

The team prepared its mission and was placed on high alert. But, with no other assets on the ground and no one in the area who spoke Krio or was not obviously a foreigner, final reconnaissance and recognition of the target was not able to be achieved. After about a week, the group stood down, and were rotated to a different location. (For more details, see pp. 82-83 of Blood From Stones). It would have been a different al Qaeda today if the operation had been able to proceed and had nabbed the two. Fazul went on to participate in the Mombasa bombings and other attacks. Ghailani returned to Afghanistan after West Africa, then resurfaced in the al Qaeda cell in Pakistan that was planning multiple attacks on the United States.