Monday, September 26, 2005

Meeting Osama bin Laden

Robert Fisk is the only Western journalist that has met Osama bin Laden several times. Fisk has written a book about it, to be serialised in "The Independent" this week. A large extract can be found here. And for those who'll feel obliged to dismiss all this as "liberal twaddle", "apologist nonsense" etc etc (ad nauseam), I say (again): know your enemy.

Fisk's interviews show at least one thing to be crystal clear: there was no love lost between bin Laden and Saddam:

Bin Laden's first reference to Iraq and to the United Nations sanctions that were to result, according to UN officials themselves, in the death of more than half a million children. "Killing those Iraqi children is a crusade against Islam," Bin Laden said. "We, as Muslims, do not like the Iraqi regime but we think that the Iraqi people and their children are our brothers and we care about their future." It was the first time I heard him use the word "crusade".

But it was neither the first - nor the last - time that Bin Laden would distance himself from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Much good would it do him. Five years later, the United States would launch an invasion of Iraq that would be partly justified by the regime's "support" for a man who so detested it.

How ironic then that reports are now coming in on al-Qaeda's increasing presence in Iraq, presumably in an effort to force the American forces to go home...

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