21 August 1998: Bin Laden will take his revenge

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Four days ago, as president Bill Clinton was testifying to Kenneth Starr about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, foreign diplomats in Pakistan were told that “all foreigners” in Afghanistan were in danger.

European embassy staff suspected that the United States, with the help of the Pakistani authorities, was about to assault Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident opposed to Washington’s continued presence in Saudi Arabia. One foreign embassy official in Islamabad told me the sources were American.

Now we know why. But the results are likely to be incalculable. President Clinton says that Mr bin Laden declared war on the United States. Now Mr Clinton has declared war on him – which is exactly what Mr bin Laden, guilty or otherwise of the American embassy bombings, will have wanted. Mr Clinton wants to destroy Mr bin Laden. Now Mr bin Laden will want to destroy Mr Clinton. He…

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