Around twelve hours ago, NewsMax broke a story about Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) having urged former President Clinton to remove U.S. troops from Somalia in 1993:
“Clinton took the advice and ordered the withdrawal - a decision that Osama bin Laden would later credit with emboldening his terrorist fighters and encouraging him to mount further attacks against the U.S.”
At this point, a Google news search identified only a handful of media sources – including Rush Limbaugh, The American Thinker, and Village Soup – as having picked up this story. Yet, there are a number of articles from September 1993 that appear to confirm the NewsMax story, so many so that one has to wonder if and when any mainstream press outlets are going to report this.
For instance, Rowan Scarborough with the Washington Times at that point reported on September 6, 1993:
“Foes of America's lingering military involvement in Somalia will force the first congressional debate on the policy this month, just as some senior Democrats begin to question President Clinton's open-ended troop commitment.”
“House aides say other senior Democrats, like Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, are privately expressing concerns.”
On September 22, 1993, an Associated Press story stated:
“Exasperated by the long-running U.S. military involvement in Somalia, a congressional panel voted Wednesday to impose conditions on President Clinton's ability to deploy forces for future humanitarian operations.”
“Murtha, who has urged Clinton to withdraw U.S. forces from Somalia, recalled that President Bush told him last December, when troops first were sent to the war-torn region, that they would be out by Inauguration Day.
“‘I don't know whose inauguration,’ Murtha quipped.”
On September 30, 1993, Rowan Scarborough reported for the Washington Times:
“Members of Congress said yesterday that President Clinton must settle affairs in Somalia before Congress will go along with a potentially more dangerous peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.
“Meanwhile, they continued to send signals that the president will bring American troops home from Somalia short of achieving security goals put forth in August.
“‘We're going to have a hard time passing any kind of resolution to go into Bosnia if we continue the confrontation in Somalia,’ said Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense.
“‘Our welcome has been worn out,’ Mr. Murtha said on NBC's ‘Today’ show, adding that Mr. Clinton has been ‘listening to our suggestions. And I think you'll see him move those troops out very quickly.’
“With those comments, Mr. Murtha joined a small but influential list of Democratic lawmakers who have publicly urged the president to change the mission in Somalia.”
With regard to how this might have impacted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, a reader (Pat at Asininity.com) just sent me an e-mail message concerning some of bin Laden’s words from his 1996 Fatwa. I have found a link to the full text, but the relevant part is as follows:
“Few days ago the news agencies had reported that the Defence Secretary of the Crusading Americans had said that 'the explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar had taught him one lesson: that is not to withdraw when attacked by coward terrorists.'
“We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all. Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed. And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in lees than twenty four hours!
"But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the ‘heart’ of every Muslim and a remedy to the ‘chests’ of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu."
*****Update: A reader named “John” sent me an e-mail message with a link to a PBS “Frontline” piece on Osama bin Laden from May 1998. In it, bin Laden says the following:
One has to believe that this is just a taste of what is out there on this subject. Will any of it get reported outside of the blogosphere and conservative radio?
Question: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.
Bin Laden: After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. ...