NEW YORK – A patrol of U.S. soldiers was so close to stumbling on Usama bin Laden's mountain hideout along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border during the winter of 2004-05 that his bodyguards considered killing the terror architect and then themselves, according to a report published in the Sept. 3 issue of Newsweek.
A sentry spotted the patrol and radioed an alert to bin Laden's 40-man shield who were prepared to move "the Sheik" — as bin Laden is known to his followers — to another location, Sheik Said, a senior Egyptian Al Qaeda operative, told the magazine.
But the patrol was so close to the hideout that bodyguards were close to using the code word to kill bin Laden and then commit suicide, Newsweek reported.
According to Said, bin Laden had decreed that he would never be captured.
"If there's a 99 percent risk of the Sheik's being captured, he told his men that they should all die and martyr him as well," Said told Omar Farooqi, described by Newsweek as a Taliban liaison officer to Al Qaeda.
The secret word was never uttered, and the U.S. troops eventually moved in a different direction, the magazine reported.