Files leaked from the U.S. military recently suggest that Osama Bin Laden escaped dramatically from the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001 because the NATO forces on his trail were not fully equipped.
Britain's Daily Mail has debunked the theory of a legendary battle on the Tora Bora involving thousands of NATO troops and heavy bombardment which was part of the Operation Enduring Freedom. The report says an American unwillingness to commit more troops to hunt down Bin Laden and the excessive dependence on Afghan fighters led to the escape of the 9/11 mastermind.
What emerges is that in all, no more than 80 British and American (and possibly German) Special Forces were involved, and these played only a supporting role to the Afghan forces which carried out the bulk of the attacks, according to the Daily Mail.
The troop strength was grossly inadequate, it later emerged. The paper says, according to some experts, around 3,000 troops would have been required to insist that to have Tora Bora properly surrounded. The troops were on hand but were not deployed probably because of a lack of necessary medical, evacuation and logistical support.
The paper said it pieced together the leaked US military documents and independent accounts of officers who took part in the operations.
Furthermore, many experts now assert that Bin Laden was able to escape because of a lack of American willingness to commit more troops to the operation — at a time when the head of Al Qaeda was well within grasp. Tellingly, there were more Western journalists near Tora Bora in December 2001 than there were Western troops.