At a rally in Tennessee on Monday, three days after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, Donald J. Trump took credit for having “predicted Osama bin Laden” and “predicted terrorism” before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “I can feel it,” he explained, likening his instinct to his ability to “feel good location” in real estate.
Mr. Trump did warn, in general terms, about the threat of terrorism. In “The America We Deserve,” a book he published in January 2000 when he was weighing an earlier presidential run, Mr. Trump wrote that he was “convinced we're in danger of the sort of terrorist attacks that will make the bombing of the Trade Center look like kids playing with firecrackers,” referring to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people.
He devoted a chapter of the book to the subject of terrorism, focusing in large part on the threat of “biobombs." Mr. Trump warned that there was a “real possibility that somewhere, sometime, a weapon of mass destruction will be carried into a major American city and detonated.”
Contrary to his suggestion on Monday, Mr. Trump offered no specific prediction of a Bin Laden attack against the United States.
Instead, he briefly referred to the terrorist leader while discussing what he called the “haphazard, impulsive and unpredictable” nature of United States foreign policy.
Bin Laden was anything but an obscure figure at the time — Mr. Trump’s book came out a little over a year after the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, attacks for which Bin Laden had been indicted.
“One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin-Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan,” Mr. Trump wrote in the 2000 book. “He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”
At the time that Mr. Trump’s book was published, Bin Laden was on the F.B.I.’s list of its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.
The blowhard force with Mr. Trump, strong is it. --SB