Just weeks after the U.S. took down Osama bin Laden, ABC News has released a new video eBook diving deep into the story of the mission, bin Laden's rise to power, the impact of his acts of terrorism on the U.S. and the world, and the future of al Qaeda.
"TARGET: Bin Laden – The Death and Life of Public Enemy Number One," by ABC News' Terry Moran, Martha Raddatz, Nick Schifrin, Brian Ross and Jake Tapper, is available for sale via the iBooks, Kindle and Nook eBook stores.
What follows is an exclusive excerpt from one of several chapters by ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross.
Chapter Five: The Hunt for Bin Laden
The United States began its hunt for Osama bin Laden at a time when few Americans had even heard his name.
It was 1996 when President Bill Clinton first gave the order to the CIA to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader.
"We had linked him to two bombings in Saudi Arabia that killed U.S. soldiers and the president said go after him," recalled Richard Clarke who was the White House counter-terrorism adviser, and is now a consultant to ABC News.
Twenty-four U.S. personnel were killed in October 1996, just months after bin Laden had issued a fatwa, a religious order, against U.S. military personnel.
The Clinton White House plan was for the CIA to capture him in Afghanistan with the help of a local tribe and then bring him to the United States on a CIA private jet where he was to be indicted.
But the tribe that took the CIA's money failed to deliver, according to Clark, and bin Laden continued to plot against the United States from his safe haven in Afghanistan.
ABC News correspondent John Miller made the trek to bin Laden's not-so-secret training camp for an exclusive interview with bin Laden, still largely unknown to the general public in May 1998.
Seated in front of a map of the world, bin Laden warned the United States of a coming attack, as he believed was required under Islamic law.
"We believe that the biggest thieves in the world are Americans and the biggest terrorists on earth are the Americans," bin Laden told ABC News. "We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians. They're all targets in this fatwa."
Miller concluded his report for Nightline with a sobering detail. "He put a time cap on it, saying that whatever action will be taken against Americans in the (Persian) Gulf, whatever violence awaits will occur within the next few weeks."
Not noticed until later was the fact that bin Laden had positioned himself so that the African continent was directly behind him.
'Kill Bin Laden'
Eight weeks after the interview was broadcast, on August 6, 1998, al Qaeda terrorists carried out coordinated attacks on two United States embassies in Africa, killing 224 people, only twelve of them American.
Now, the presidential finding to "capture or kill" bin Laden became an order to simply "kill" bin Laden.
Two weeks after the embassy bombings, President Clinton authorized the August 20, 1998 missile strikes against bin Laden's suspected camps in Afghanistan and another location in Sudan.
Bin Laden was uninjured in the strike against his camp in Afghanistan and the missiles in the Sudan hit a pharmaceutical plant whose owner denied any connection to bin Laden.
The CIA continued to seek bin Laden under a joint operation with the FBI, operating out of office building in suburban Washington, code named Alex Station. The group came up with plans to launch a raid on bin Laden's suspected location in Afghanistan, known as Tarnak Farms.
"I would have said, Mr. bin Laden, my name is Jack Cloonan, I'm from the FBI in New York and you are under arrest," recalled former FBI agent Jack Cloonan who was part of the FBI's bin Laden squad and had trained to be part of the raid team. "Then he would have been handcuffed."