Local News

WRAL Military Expert Analyzes Bombings

Posted August 19, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— WRAL military expert General Robert Springer analyzed the impact and motives of the bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan during a conversation with Jim Payne and Debra Morgan Thursday night. Debra: General Springer, how long before we know if Thursday's attacks were a success? General Springer: We should know something within the next 24 hours, when we get some satellite coverage, or maybe somebody on the ground can provide some human intelligence for us. We should be hearing within the next 12-15 hours. You have to decide what is a success. If you just hit the targets, that's one thing. But what were you really trying to accomplish? The objective may be a little different. Jim: We just got word that the attacks that took place Thursday were 10 days in the planning stages. We also know from the previous stories that there were some tell-tale warning signs. There were others as well, though. General Springer: For example, Bin Laden is out publicly himself making the announcement that anyone with American citizenship is safe from their terrorist attacks. There were obviously threats against other specific embassies, United States embassies, on foreign soil. But, all of this, there is a large reservoir of information before the East-African bombings of our two embassies. That brought it to a heightened tension. There's been much more information. You can get signatures on people. You can get signatures on weapons. You can get signatures on bombs. You know exactly who did it. I'm very impressed with the intelligence agencies and the FBI for being able to bring this to this point so quickly. Debra: Some people are questioning why Thursday, with all of the other events going on in Washington. In fact, there was a critical window here. There were some high level meetings going on in Afghanistan. General Springer: There was a critical window going on. There are six sites in Afghanistan that "house," if you will, terrorist training universities. There were a lot of terrorist leaders that were there Thursday. It made a marvelous target of opportunity. Timing is everything. Jim: We hope the message has been received by terrorists in other cloaks, so to speak. General Springer: It's very important, not just to retaliate against the two embassy bombings, but to serve as a deterrent to any other would-be terrorist who would like to take the lives or installations of America. Debra: We didn't have to get permission from any other countries or the U.N. to go ahead with this strike, did we? General Springer: We did not, primarily because this was a unilateral action. It was unilateral because it was American embassies that were involved. By using Navy cruise missiles, we don't have to worry about overflight rights. We don't have to worry about using anybody else's air bases. We don't have to put any of our troops on foreign soil. It was clean in that regard. It's not over yet.