Capturing Osama bin Laden had been an objective of the United States government since the presidency of Bill Clinton. Shortly after the September 11 attacks it was revealed that President Clinton had signed a directive authorizing the CIA (and specifically their elite Special Activities Division) to apprehend bin Laden and bring him to the United States to stand trial after the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa; if taking bin Laden alive was deemed impossible, then deadly force was authorized.On August 20, 1998, 66 cruise missiles launched by United States Navy ships in the Arabian Sea struck bin Laden's training camps near Khost in Afghanistan, narrowly missing him by a few hours. In 1999 the CIA, together with Pakistani military intelligence, had prepared a team of approximately 60 Pakistani commandos to infiltrate Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden, but the plan was aborted by the 1999 Pakistani coup d'état;in 2000, foreign operatives working on behalf of the CIA had fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a convoy of vehicles in which bin Laden was traveling through the mountains of Afghanistan, hitting one of the vehicles but not the one in which bin Laden was in.
In 2000, prior to the September 11 attacks, Paul Bremer characterized the Clinton administration as "correctly focused on bin Laden", while Robert Oakley criticized their "obsession with Osama". Bush administration
Delta Force GIs disguised as Afghan civilians, while they searched for bin Laden in November 2001
Immediately after the September 11 attacks, U.S. government officials named bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization as the prime suspects and offered a reward of $25 million for information leading to his capture or death.On July 13, 2007, this figure was doubled to $50 million.The Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association offered an additional $2 million reward.
According to The Washington Post, the U.S. government concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the Battle of Tora Bora, Afghanistan in late 2001, and according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge, failure by the United States to commit enough U.S. ground troops to hunt him led to his escape and was the gravest failure by the United States in the war against al-Qaeda. Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the Battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border.
The Washington Post also reported that the CIA unit composed of special operations paramilitary forces dedicated to capturing bin Laden was shut down in late 2005.Bush had previously defended this scaling back of the effort several times, saying, "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
U.S. and Afghanistan forces raided the mountain caves in Tora Bora between August 14–16, 2007. The military was drawn to the area after receiving intelligence of a pre-Ramadan meeting held by al-Qaeda members. After killing dozens of al-Qaeda and Taliban members, they did not find either Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Formation and structuring of al-Qaeda
Beliefs and ideology
Sudan and return to Afghanistan
The 9/11 Commission Report states
Early attacks and aid for attacks
September 11 attacks
Killed During Attempt to Capture