The US military response to the East African embassy bombings was intended to cripple al Qaeda but it strengthened Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, according to a book by Lawrence Wright.
The Clinton administration’s failure to strike back effectively in 1998 helped make it possible for al Qaeda to carry out the massive attacks on New York and Washington three years later, says the book titled The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Wright describes as “ineffectual” the US retaliation for the August 7, 1998, bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Less than two weeks later, 13 cruise missiles were fired at a factory in Khartoum that the United States believed was being used to develop poison gas for use by al Qaeda. Simultaneously, 66 cruise missiles were launched from US warships in the Arabian Sea. Their targets were al Qaeda training camps near Khost in eastern Afghanistan. The twin missile attacks were given the code name “Operation Infinite Reach.”
“The missile attacks exposed the inadequacy of American intelligence and the futility of military power, which rained down three-quarters of a billion dollars’ worth of armament on two of the poorest countries in the world,” Wright says.