NATO has formally invoked its mutual defence clause after receiving “clear and compelling” evidence from the United States that Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida terrorist network was behind the 11 September attacks in the US. This is the first time in NATO’s history that the alliance reaffirms its founding principle that an attack upon one is an attack upon all.
The US State Department Coordinator for Counter-terrorism Frank Taylor presented evidence concerning the attacks to the North Atlantic Council on 2 October. The classified briefing addressed the events of 11 September and the results of the investigation into the involvement of Osama bin Laden, his Al-Qaida organisation and their Taleban protectors in the attacks.
“The facts are clear and compelling. The information presented points conclusively to an Al-Qaida role in the 11 September attacks,” said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.
NATO members are obliged to give whatever assistance the US requests, however, there will be not military operation by NATO as such. Diplomatic and intelligence support are important, and several countries have already started to facilitate the US military build-up around Afghanistan.