Bill Clinton on day before 9/11: 'I could have killed' Osama bin Laden

A day before the 9/11 terror attacks, former President Bill Clinton told an audience that he came close to almost killing Osama bin Laden, according to a newly released audiotape.

At an event in Melbourne, Australia on Sept. 10, 2001, Clinton was asked to discuss international terrorism.

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"I'm just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he's a very smart guy, I've spent a lot of time thinking about him — and I nearly got him once," Clinton, who had left the White House that January, said.

"I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn't do it,” he added. 

Ten hours after Clinton made those remarks, two planes hit the World Trade Center, one later hit the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania in the al Qaeda attack that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Sky News aired the Clinton tape this week, which Australia’s former Liberal Party president, Michael Kroger, had recorded at the time. The tape had never been played publicly, Sky News said. 

The 9/11 Commission report, released after the attacks, said the U.S. had considered a strike on Kandahar in December 1998. Clinton’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, advised the president against launching a cruise missile to kill bin Laden.

U.S. special operations forces killed bin Laden in May 2011 during a raid on his compound in Pakistan.