Elite Officer Recalls Bin Laden Hunt

Delta Force Commander Says The Best Plan To Kill The Al Qaeda Leader In 2001 Was Nixed

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The military wouldn't tell 60 Minutes who rejected the plans or why. Fury wasn't happy about it but he pressed on with the only option he had left, a frontal assault on bin Laden's dug-in al Qaeda fighters. The Delta team had only about 50 men. So the mission would depend on the Afghan militia as guides and muscle. Their leader was a warlord and self-styled general named Ali.

"Ali told us after about 30 seconds of discussion, he kind of listened to me ramble on and then the first thing he said was, 'I don't think you guys can handle it. You can't handle Al Qaeda in these mountains,'" Fury remembers.

Ali met with a CIA officer and accepted millions of dollars in cash from the agency. In short order, his Mujahideen fighters were escorting Delta Force into the mountains.

"Paint the picture for me of these Afghan Mujahideen troops," Pelley asks.

"They range anywhere from maybe 14 up to maybe 80. Various dress. Basically, we would probably consider it rags, which is the standard dress for a Mujahideen warrior," Fury explains.

There is a video of the top secret mission, which has never been seen by the public before. It was recorded by the Delta commandos themselves. Dressed like Afghans, the Americans maneuvered up the mountains, calling in air strikes on al Qaeda. By day they would advance, but at night they soon discovered their Afghan allies went home.

"Well, I have to assume that if you started up the hills of Tora Bora, and you and the Mujahideen took territory, they didn't abandon that at night?" Pelley asks.

"Oh yes they did," Fury says.

He says they gave it up to the enemy. "The Mujahideen would go up, get into a skirmish, firefight, lose a guy or two, maybe kill an al Qaeda guy or two, and then they leave. It was almost like it was an agreement, an understanding between the two forces fighting each other. Almost put on a good show and then leave."

Four days after arriving in Tora Bora, Dalton Fury was faced with a fateful command decision: three of his men were in trouble behind enemy lines, and at the same time the CIA had been listening to bin Laden's radio transmissions and had a breakthrough.

"And this is where it gets complicated. At about the same time, the CIA, George, comes into our room and he says, 'Guys, I got a location for Osama bin Laden.' That's probably the best locational data we've had on Osama bin Laden ever."

It was night, so Fury was without his Afghan allies. Still, he rescued his men and then found himself approaching bin Laden's doorstep. "We're about 2,000 meters away from where we think bin Laden's at still. From where we're at. Now we have to make a decision," he remembers.