WASHINGTON — Usama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americans one year after the Sept. 11 attacks, The Post has learned.
The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business — and, possibly, for their own health, according to law-enforcement sources familiar with the Drug Enforcement Administration's (search) probe of the aborted transaction.
The feds were told of the scheme earlier this year, but its existence had never been made public. The Post has reviewed a document detailing the DEA's findings in the matter, in addition to interviewing sources familiar with the case.
Sources said the feds were told that bin Laden personally met with leaders of a Colombian drug cartel to in 2002 to negotiate the purchase of tons of cocaine, saying that he was willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to finance the deal.
It was not clear where the meeting took place.
Bin Laden hoped that large numbers of Americans dying from poisoned coke would lead to widespread terror.
"They wanted to kill thousands of people — more than the World Trade Center," said a source.
Although the drug lords would have reaped millions of dollars in profits by selling the cocaine to bin Laden, they knew that if his plan succeeded it might effectively destroy the market for their coke in America for years, sources said.
But that was only one reason they declined bin Laden's offer.
The other was their fear of retaliation from the U.S. government once its citizens started to die from the drugs, according to sources.
Despite bin Laden's plan being thwarted, the DEA believes that al Qaeda continues to this day to traffic in drugs to fund a variety of its operations — including training, traveling and terror attacks.
In 2002, then-DEA Director Asa Hutchinson (search) said, "The DEA [has] received multi-source information that Usama bin Laden himself has been involved in the financing and facilitation of heroin-trafficking activities."
"It is important we recognize that when money goes from the pocket of an American to buy drugs, it may contribute to the financing of unspeakable crimes of violence around the world," Hutchinson told Congress that year when he detailed the narcotics trade connection to al Qaeda and other terror groups.
In April of this year, Afghan tribal leader Hajji Bashir Noorzai (search), who was one of the most wanted drug dealers in the world and previously had been identified as bin Laden's major heroin supplier, was busted in New York City on federal criminal charges.