That is not entirely true, Osama bin Laden was specifically named as a negotiator and contact at the time, he facilitated a great deal with a guy named Abdullah Azzam who is credited for introducing Osama bin Laden to his fanatical Muslim beliefs of a single Islamic state.
Id need to see the source of all that. Steve Coll is a well known researcher and is not nobody.
Point here is that the USA never gave OBL anything. The $$$ was funneled either directly to the warlords or to the ISI.
but even if OBL never participated in any battles, he was clearly one of the most important leaders of the time and this was his first steps to building his eventual accomplishment of al-Qaida.
That’s essentially what the benefit of Afghanistan was. Network building that he used later.
But any claim that OBL was a nobody is simply not true, there is a huge amount of evidence to prove otherwise.
Love to see anything showing he was a major player at the time.