878. 5/18/1996

“Bin Laden, his wives and children, and a large retinue of followers departed Sudan on May 18, 1996, and traveled in two aircraft to Jalalabad [Afghanistan]. Bin Laden flew in on a small private plane. …Sudanese officials chartered a second aircraft from Ariana, the Afghan state airline, for $50,000. [Afghan] President [Burhanuddin] Rabbani denied having anything to do with the invitation or with facilitating bin Laden’s move, but the money, paid in cash, went straight into the depleted state coffers, Ariana officials said. More than ninety men, women, and children, all well-groomed and looking ‘healthy and handsome,’ prepared to board the 727-200 in Khartoum. …When they landed at Jalalabad, mujahideen in pickup trucks, complete with rocket launchers, surrounded the aircraft. They loaded up and disappeared into the night. When the pilot and copilot flew back to Kabul, they were grounded for a full month. [Foreign minister] Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai…shouted at the airline’s executive vice president, ‘You have placed the country in a very big problem!’ “

 – Roy Gutman, How We Missed the Story, Page 89

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