Inside the bin Laden Manhunt

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Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man
By Dalton Fury
St. Martin's Press; 320 pages

The Gist:
In a rare and personal report on the much-speculated-upon Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, former Delta Force commander Dalton Fury attempts to lay to rest the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and falsities which he says were perpetuated amid the hunt for Osama bin Laden in December 2001. Fury blames an "excitement-starved general public," a clueless intelligence community, an even more clueless press corps and the need to keep Delta Force operations classified for a misguided account of the operation that he calls "fantastic and exciting stuff, but utter hogwash."

Highlight Reel:

1. "When the raid was all over, I could not help but think that here we were in Tora Bora a year after our first violent attacks in these mountains, but instead of having bin Laden within reach, as we did back then, we were now grabbing any little person who might have spoken to him at some time. ...The intel on Osama bin Laden remained dry."

2. "As we [a group of U.S. Airborne Rangers running an exercise] waited at the departure airfield, I looked out the back of the plane and watched two late 1970s pickup trucks hurrying toward us. The men in the trucks were strikingly different than the uniformed Rangers all around me. Some were much older, some had short, well-groomed hair, while a few had very long hair that blew in the wind. Others wore long and thick mustaches or goatees. The mystery men grabbed small black bags from the truck, walked on to the plane, and took seats on the cold metal flooring without a word, a gesture, or even a simple hello. They didn't check in with anyone. ... It was my introduction to Delta."

3. "Some great mind once said that there are two kinds of original thinkers. There are those who, upon viewing disorder, try to create order. And the second group does just the reverse. It is made up of those who, on encountering order, try to create disorder. That's us. Delta operators thrive on chaos like no other group of humans alive. It's intoxicating. It's intense. And it is extraordinarily addictive."

4. "His Arabic prose sounded beautiful, soothing, and peaceful. But the words were very portentous, and I paraphrase them here. 'Our prayers have not been answered. Times are dire,' he said with an uncanny combination of surrender and despair. 'We didn't receive support from the apostate nations who call themselves our Muslim brothers. Things might have been different.' His final words to his fighters that night revealed a tired and weary warrior. 'I'm sorry for getting you involved in this battle, if you can no longer resist, you may surrender with my blessing.'

The Lowdown:
Although the author chastises American media for printing lies in order to satisfy the public need for a story, he acknowledges that the "world is interested" in learning of the events of bin Laden's non-capture — an about-face seeming to serve mostly Fury's need to pat himself and the other Delta fighters on the back for more than 300 pages. His detailed account borders on idolatry not only for himself, but also for his fellow comrades — "the boys" as he repeatedly refers to them.

While it would be difficult to argue against these soldiers' bravery and strength, the story suffers from a hesitancy to critically reassess the events of the Tora Bora battle — a hesitancy to which Fury finally succumbs in the penultimate chapter, admitting that "we were naïve back in December 2001 to think that Westerners could invade a Muslim country and rely on indigenous fighters to kill their Islamic brothers with tenacity and impunity." What readers are ultimately left with, though, is the barest outline of bin Laden, the man who has become an international punchline while making a joke out of the governments that have pursued him for so long — however interesting it might be to find out how he got away.

The Verdict: Skim

(Read a Q&A with author Dalton Fury here)

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