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9/11 mastermind: 'Cowboy' George W. Bush's quick military response prevented more attacks

Mohammed Jalil-Pool/Getty Images

The mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks says former President George W. Bush's tenacity and quick-thinking military response prevented Al Qaeda from launching a second wave of attacks in the United States, according to a new book.

The book, "Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America," is the memoir of James E. Mitchell, a former CIA contractor who developed and carried out many of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that have proved successful in extracting valuable intelligence in the War on Terror.

One of the most telling sections of the book is where Mitchell describes a conversation he once had with Khalid Sheik Mohammed — the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and former high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist known as "KSM" — who told him point blank that it was because of "Cowboy" George W. Bush — and Bush's quick reaction to the attacks — that the terrorist group didn't launch attacks.

According to the Washington Post's Mark Thiessen, who reviewed the book:

Far from trying to draw us in, KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States “turned tail and ran.” He also said he thought we would treat 9/11 as a law enforcement matter, just as we had the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen — arresting some operatives and firing a few missiles into empty tents, but otherwise leaving him free to plan the next attack.

“Then he looked at me and said, ‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’” Mitchell writes. “KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.” He was not able to do so because al-Qaeda was stunned “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”

Further, Mitchell wrote that KSM and Al Qaeda planned to exploit the American immigration system as a way to infiltrate the country with Islamic jihadists. Thiessen wrote:

KSM explained that large-scale attacks such as 9/11 were “nice, but not necessary” and that a series of “low-tech attacks could bring down America the same way ‘enough disease-infected fleas can fell an elephant.’ ” KSM “said jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States” and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws” until they were strong enough to rise up and attack us. “He said the brothers would relentlessly continue their attacks and the American people would eventually become so tired, so frightened, and so weary of war that they would just want it to end.”

“Eventually,” KSM said, “America will expose her neck for us to slaughter.”

Sadly, KSM's prediction has come true and there have been a large number of "lone-wolf" style attacks in the U.S. in recent years, the most recent apparently coming on Monday when an 18-year-old Somali refugee injured 11 people at the Ohio State University, where he was a student, before being shot and killed by police. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

And while Bush and his administration have taken heat for the last 15 years about their swift response to the 9/11 attacks, which included two wars in the Middle East, KSM's words prove that maybe Bush and his team knew more and made better decisions than they've been given credit for.

One last thing…
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