CIA Agent Ordered to Bring Home bin Laden’s Head on Dry Ice

US spy ordered to bring home bin Laden’s head on dry ice (AFP)

US spy chiefs ordered agents to deliver Osama bin Laden’s severed head in a box of dry ice and hoist heads of other Al-Qaeda leaders on pikes, a retired field officer has disclosed. [Perhaps “claimed” would be a better choice of words? -ed.] As America reeled in shock days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, former CIA officer Gary Schroen was sent to Afghanistan to help the opposition Northern Alliance to topple bin Laden’s hosts the Taliban.

He told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast on Monday and Tuesday that he stopped by the office of then-CIA counterterrorism director Cofer Black for final instructions. He said he was told: “‘your basic marching orders are to link up with the Northern Alliance and get their cooperation militarily and they will take on the Taliban. “‘When we break the Taliban, your job is to capture bin Laden, kill him and bring his head back in a box full of dry ice.'” Schroen was also ordered to kill other al-Qaeda leaders suspected in the plot, which saw terrorists slam planes into the New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Certainly, there would have been great strategic value in doing just this. It certainly would have ended some of bin Laden’s hold on his followers. Of course, he would have also become an instant martyr.

Still, this sounds like the kind of thing old spies write to sell books. I’m wondering if this isn’t just a wee bit embellished. Indeed, as Schroen himself points out, obtaining dry ice in Afghanistan might have been a little challenging.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Funny, I was told to use liquid nitrogen.

    Oops, I shouldn’t have “disclosed” that, should I?

  2. Kent says:

    I find it perfectly believable that Black told Schroen to “bring his head back in a box full of dry ice.” It’s the kind of hyperbole I’d expect a bureaucrat to use when he wants to sound tough. What is harder to believe is that Schroen failed to understand that it was hyperbole.

  3. Tom says:

    Probably not true…but it ought to be!

  4. Jeff H says:

    Sounds like the guy could’ve pulled a block of dry ice out of his own ass.