This was a twelve day military conflict that occurred in Afghanistan from the 6th of December 2001 to the 17th of December. It was one of the battles that opened up the War in Afghanistan that resulted from the 9/11 attacks on US soil. The military attacked Tora Bora because they had reasons to believe that the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden, had taken up his abode in the mountains of that region.
Taliban forces and al-Qaeda forces were destroyed or captured. In many of those offenses that were able to intercept radio transmissions in which they heard the voice of Osama bin Laden. They were, however, unable to either capture or kill him. The terrorist mastermind was able to escape the military forces to Pakistan where he hid more close to ten years before being discovered and killed by US SEALs in 2011.
The Tora Bora cave is located by the Khyber Pass in one of the White Mountains of east Afghanistan. The US believed that this cave complex was the base of operation of al-Qaeda and that Osama bin Laden was holed up there. It was believed to have several stories and to obtain electricity from the stream (using hydroelectric turbines). It was described as being so large that it could protect a thousand people. Also, there were reports that it held a cache of weapons, including missiles.
By the end of 2001, the US military began aerial bombardment of the area, using very big bombs (these bombs were named daisy cutters). By December of the same year, operatives from the CIA’s NCS (National clandestine Service) and the 5th SFG (Special Forces group) were deployed the area to begin to fight against al-Qaeda. The Afghanistan Northern Alliance Fighters’ fought the al-Qaeda for control of the area, while the operatives inserted into the area used laser makers to call down air strikes on the region.
For seventy two hours there was constant laser guided bombardment. After this, more troops arrived, both from the US and Britain. Seventy operators from the Delta Forces and Navy DEVGRU arrived to support the ongoing operation against al-Qaeda. Locating al-Qaeda forces was easy during the night, because the terrorists would light fires. The soldiers would then direct their lasers at these fires and the air force would fire laser guided bombs to these exact locations.
Under the heavy bombardment by the United States Air Force and the guidance and support of the ground special operations forces, the northern alliance of the Afghanistan fighters were able to press forward and push the al-Qaeda members to the wall. This led al-Qaeda to request for a cease fire and time to surrender themselves and their weapons.
It is believed, today, that this request for a cease fire was a ruse and it was targeted at letting some key leaders of al-Qaeda to escape, including Osama bin Laden himself. The battle resumed again on December 12, 2001 when it was apparent that a guard was trying to hold off the advancing fighters so that the main force could escape into Pakistan.