A top-secret operation in early 2005 meant to "snatch and grab" top Al Qaeda members in Pakistan was aborted at the last second when former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided the raid was too risky, according to The New York Times.

Intelligence officials were targeting a meeting that they thought included Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri, the man believed to run much of the terrorist group’s operations, a former senior intelligence official involved in the mission told the Times.

But Rumsfeld called off the operation after deciding it had become too risky in terms of American lives and relations with Pakistan. Rumsfeld was apparently concerned with Pakistan's ban on the U.S. military operating in its tribal areas and the rift the mission could cause.

The raid had started off as a small number of military and CIA personnel but before launch ended up including several hundred people, according to the report. Then director of the CIA, Porter Goss, appealed to Rumsfeld to carry out the operation, but was rejected, the Times reported.

Click here to read the full New York Times report.