Congress warned about Osama back in 1998 

On Sept. 9, 1998 Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., stood up on the House floor and became the first member of Congress to warn his colleagues on Capitol Hill about a Saudi-born multimillionaire named Osama bin Laden. 

“A few weeks ago, 224 people lost their lives and more than 5,000 people were injured in the bombings of two U.S. embassies East AfricaTwelve of those who died were Americans,” Wolf told his colleagues.

“On August 20 [1998], President Clinton announced that the U.S. had determined a multimillionaire militant and terrorist kingpin, Osama bin Laden, was responsible for the attack. American forces bombed secret compounds and facilities linked to bin Laden in Afghanistan and Sudan that same day. While this response was proper and necessary, I believe we need to take another look at our nation’s overall policy on terrorism. Bin Laden is certainly not our only worry.”

Bin Laden would soon become U.S. Enemy Number One and trigger a global manhunt. But back in 1998, nobody at the highest levels of the federal government was paying much attention. 

Wolf told The Examiner that he first heard about bin Laden during a humanitarian visit to Sudan, where over 2 million people were killed in a genocide launched from the mostly Muslim northern section of the country against the mostly Christian population centered in Darfur.

“Osama bin Laden had been invited to live in Khartoum between 1991 and 1995 by Sudanese president Omar al Bashir, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for genocide, and Dr. Hassan al-Turabi founder of the National Islamic Front. On my first trip to Sudan, people told me that bin Laden was involved in agriculture and road construction,” Wolf told us.

And global terrorism. 

“Sudan was the gathering point for al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. You can argue that all the terrorist groups emerged out of Khartoum – and the Bashir government, which is still in power,” he added.

However, even five years after the first attack on the World Trade Center, Wolf’s fellow members of Congress largely ignored his prophetic words - until three years later, when the twin symbols of American capitalism came crashing down.

Wolf had introduced a bill to establish the National Terrorism Commission, headed by Paul Bremer, who would later be appointed as ambassador to Iraq. The commission’s report, released on July 7, 2000, even had a 1993 cover photograph of the World Trade Center on fire – an eerie prefiguration of 9/11.

Even though bin Laden was identified as a terrorist involved in direct attacks on American embassies, there was no manhunt and very little was done to shut down his fledging terror network.

“The Clinton administration and the CIA ignored the commission’s recommendations, and I was criticized for being anti-Muslim,” Wolf told us. In fact, Osama bin Laden wouldn’t be taken seriously until after the worst terrorist attack on American soil had claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Americans.

“Everybody just ignored the commission’s recommendations. I hate to say it, but that’s what happened,” Wolf acknowledged, adding that everybody is still ignoring the ongoing genocide in Sudan, where it all began.

“Former Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and I were the first members of Congress to visit the burned out, ethnically cleansed villages in Darfur. Genocide is still going on at a very low level there. Women going out to gather firewood are still being raped by the Janjaweed, and up to a half million people are still living in refugee camps,” Wolf noted. “They’re still there and the world has forgotten about them.”

Just like the world forgot about Osama bin Laden – until it couldn’t ignore him any longer.

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