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Cool Justice
Bin Laden Hunting With Robin Moore 
By ANDY THIBAULT, Columnist
Law Tribune Newspapers
March 24, 2003

     Anyone who has read the work of former Westport resident Robin Moore -- or met Moore -- knows this is no ordinary man. Moore, now 77, spent a few months running around Afghanistan with the Green Berets after the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks. His stirring tale of 19th century cavalry charges combined with 21st century airstrikes, The Hunt For Bin Laden, has dominated the top ten of Amazon.com the past couple weeks. It is the first insider account of unconventional warfare in Afghanistan showing how a few hundred Green Berets and the Northern Alliance routed scores of thousands of Taliban.

     On the ground, U.S. special forces wore typical Afghan caps and scarves after growing beards and their hair long. They hid in mud trenches with sniper rifles accurate at up to 1,000 yards as they called in air strikes. They rode horseback 15 miles a day, taking muscle relaxers when their backs jammed up. They joined the Northern Alliance in cavalry charges, sometimes only seconds after laser-guided bombs hit their opponents.

     An Air Force captain named Allison - in charge of weapons release -- would speak to Taliban foes on their radio frequency immediately before bombing raids, telling them she had heard how the Taliban treated women, and she was there to give them payback. "Ally" was introduced by a Northern Alliance general, who announced in the native language Dari that the U.S. had so little respect for the Taliban they had sent women to fight their holy warriors. These broadcasts aroused and motivated U.S. troops.

     Such is the detail of Moore's adventure story, which might also serve as a political weapon to galvanize support for the military. Moore is forthright about this dual purpose.

     Moore grew up a wild, rich guy hungry for adventure. His father owned the Sheraton hotel chain. They built the first Sheraton in Jamaica together in a highly-charged Cold War atmosphere, replete with James Bond-type adventures. Moore wrote himself out of the hotel industry with a series of books including The Fifth Estate, about the alliance among business, government and organized crime. Then, at age 40, Moore became the first and only civilian to go through Green Beret training. His Harvard classmate, Bobby Kennedy, helped get presidential approval for the training.

     I lost touch with Moore about seven years ago. He had helped me with stories and sources at key moments, going back to the 1970s when I encountered a cover-up of a hit-and-run death. I was a young reporter, looking for help from the guy who wrote The French Connection and The Green Berets. He was very gracious and supportive, an accessible, old-school gentleman. He helped again and again, even when he was in a jam with some tax problems that resulted in an indictment and probation. As part of his plea agreement, Moore fingered executives and Jamaican government officials who arranged kickbacks during parties at his Westport home for the "Come Back To Jamaica" ad campaign. The grand jury and resulting indictments made for a run of great stories. Then, out of the blue, Moore hooked me up with his cousin by marriage, an Irish redhead from Texas who was a close personal friend of the late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Brown was about to be indicted by an independent counsel when he died in 
a mysterious plane crash in Bosnia. Moore's cousin made news by claiming Brown had told President Clinton he would not do jail time. Result: more great stories.

     The only thing more wild than Moore's adventure stories is Moore himself. There's no room here to get into the Russian mobsters in New York who were involved in importing nuclear weapons components. I'll just say it's a pleasure to reconnect with Robin Moore.

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