Hacksaw Ridge‘s Andrew Garfield has made a deal to star in Black Lion as Carlos Mavroleon. Mavroleon was a Harvard educated heir to a $100 million English/Greek shipping empire who left it behind to become a Afghanistan War correspondent.
The movie is based on the true-life story of his life. In Black Lion the movie will portray Mavroleon in global conflict zones and particularly his final assignment for 60 Minutes, where he was tasked with sneaking into Afghan tribal territories immediately after President Bill Clinton’s 1998 missile strikes against the Bin Laden camps.
According to press reports, he did much more than that, including commanding a unit of Afghan Mujahideen against Russian forces and working as a bodyguard for a Pakistani tribal chief.
Mavroleon was one of the first journalists to discover the all-important Pakistani link in the Al Qaida/Taliban axis and was subsequently found dead in a Peshawar motel room days later under mysterious circumstances. The Bullet to the Head scribe Alessandro Camon is penning the script for Black Lion.
*Carlos was educated at Eton and Harvard. Carlos later became a member of the Mujahideen, with whom he fought against the Red Army in Afghanistan. A professional journalist, he died in Peshawar while on assignment for CBS reporting on Operation Infinite Reach.
Operation Infinite Reach was the codename for American cruise missile strikes on al-Qaeda bases in Khost, Afghanistan, and the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, on August 20, 1998. The attacks, launched by the U.S. Navy, were ordered by President Bill Clinton in retaliation for al-Qaeda’s August 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people (including 12 Americans) and injured over 4,000 others. Operation Infinite Reach was the first time the U.S. acknowledged a preemptive strike against a violent non-state actor.
U.S. intelligence suggested financial ties between the Al-Shifa plant and Osama bin Laden, and a soil sample collected from Al-Shifa allegedly contained a chemical used in VX nerve gas manufacturing. Suspecting that Al-Shifa was linked to, and producing chemical weapons for, bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, the U.S. destroyed the facility with cruise missiles, killing or wounding 11 Sudanese. The strike on Al-Shifa proved controversial; after the attacks, the U.S. evidence and rationale were criticized as faulty, and academics Max Taylor and Mohamed Elbushra cite “a broad acceptance that this plant was not involved in the production of any chemical weapons.”
The missile strikes on al-Qaeda’s Afghan training camps, aimed at preempting more attacks and killing bin Laden, damaged the installations and inflicted an uncertain number of casualties; however, bin Laden was not present at the time. Following the attacks, the ruling Taliban allegedly reneged on a promise given to Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal to hand over bin Laden, and the regime instead strengthened its ties with the al-Qaeda chief.
Operation Infinite Reach, described by historian Timothy Naftali as “the largest U.S. military response to a terrorist attack” since the 1986 bombing of Libya, was met with a mixed international response: U.S. allies and most of the American public supported the strikes, but the targeted countries, Islamic militant groups, and other nations in the Middle East strongly opposed them. The failure of the attacks to kill bin Laden also enhanced his public image in the Muslim world. Further strikes were planned but not executed; as a 2002 congressional inquiry noted, Operation Infinite Reach was “the only instance … in which the CIA or U.S. military carried out an operation directly against Bin Ladin before September 11.”
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