In January 1999, Time magazine published an interview
with Osama bin Laden. Polite and regularly praising God, bin Laden sipped
water from a cup and cradled an AK-47 as he spoke to Rahimullah Yusufzai
at a small encampment in the Afghan desert.
He said he enjoyed horse riding and playing soccer, but
walked with a stick because of a bad back. Aides say his contact with the
world is limited to newspaper and radio reports. He has a satellite telephone
but it is rarely used because he fears America will track the signal.
Being labelled Public Enemy No 1 didn't worry him, he
said, adding that America should expect Muslim reactions in proportion
'to the injustice they inflict'
Time: Are you responsible for the bomb attacks on the two American embassies
Bin Laden: The International Islamic Front for Jihad against the US and
Israel has, by the grace of God, issued a crystal-clear fatwa [decree]
calling on the Islamic nation to carry on jihad [holy war] aimed at liberating
holy sites. The nation of Muhammad has responded to this appeal.
If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans in order
to liberate al-Aksa Mosque and the Holy Ka'aba [Islamic shrines in Jerusalem
and Saudi Arabia] is considered a crime, then let history be a witness
that I am a criminal. Our job is to instigate and, by the grace of God,
we did that, and certain people responded to this instigation.
Time: Do you know the men who have been arrested for these attacks?
What I know is that those who risked their lives to earn the pleasure of
God are real men. They managed to rid the Islamic nation of disgrace. We
hold them in the highest esteem.
Time: But all those arrested are said to have been associated with you.
Wadih el-Hage [an alleged bin Laden associate who is being held in custody
in New York City on charges stemming from the attacks on the embassies]
was one of our brothers whom God was kind enough to steer to the path of
relief work for Afghan refugees.
I still remember him, though I have not seen him or heard
from him for many years. He has nothing to do with the US allegations.
As for Mohamed Rashed al-'Owhali [another suspect in the bombings], we
were informed that he is a Saudi from the province of Najd.
The fact of the matter is that America, and in particular the CIA, wanted
to cover up its failure in the aftermath of the events that took place
in Riyadh, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Capetown, Kampala - and other places,
God willing, in the future - by arresting any person who had participated
in the Islamic jihad in Afghanistan. We pray to God to end the plight [of
the arrested men], and we are confident they will be exonerated.
Time: How do you react to the December attack on Iraq by US and British
There is no doubt that the treacherous attack has confirmed that Britain
and America are acting on behalf of Israel and the Jews, paving the way
for the Jews to divide the Muslim world once again, enslave it and loot
the rest of its wealth.
A great part of the force that carried out the attack came from certain
Gulf countries that have lost their sovereignty. Now infidels walk everywhere
on the land where Mohammed was born and where the Koran was revealed to
him. The situation is serious.
The rulers have become powerless. Muslims should carry out their obligations,
since the rulers of the region have accepted the invasion of their countries.
These countries belong to Islam and not the rulers.
Time: What can the US expect from you now?
Any thief or criminal or robber who enters another country in order to
steal should expect to be exposed to murder at any time. For the American
forces to expect anything from me personally reflects a very narrow perception.
Thousands of millions of Muslims are angry. The Americans should expect
reactions from the Muslim world that are proportionate to the injustice
Time: The US says you are trying to acquire chemical and nuclear weapons.
Acquiring weapons for the defence of Muslims is a religious duty. If I
have indeed acquired these weapons, then I thank God for enabling me to
do so. And if I seek to acquire these weapons, I am carrying out a duty.
It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would
prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims.
Time: The US is trying to stop the flow of funds to your organisation.
Has it been able to do so?
The US knows that I have attacked it, by the grace of God, for more than
10 years now. The US alleges that I am fully responsible for the killing
of its soldiers in Somalia. God knows that we have been pleased at the
killing of American soldiers.
This was achieved by the grace of God and the efforts
of the mujahideen from among the Somali brothers and other Arab mujahideen
who had been in Afghanistan before that. America has been trying ever since
to tighten its economic blockade against us and to arrest me. It has failed.
This blockade does not hurt us much. We expect to be rewarded by God.
Time: Is your Islamic message having an impact?
Winds of change have blown in order to lift the injustice to which the
world is subjected by America and its supporters and the Jews who are collaborating
with them. The time will come, sooner rather than later, when criminal
despots who betrayed God and his Prophet, and betrayed their trust and
their nation, will face the same fate.
Time: But there are many Muslims who do not agree with your kind of violence.
Fighting is a part of our religion and our sharia [an Islamic legal code].
Those who love God and his Prophet and this religion cannot deny that.
Whoever denies even a minor tenet of our religion commits the gravest sin
Those who sympathise with the infidels, such as the PLO
in Palestine or the so-called Palestinian Authority, have been trying for
tens of years to get back some of their rights. They laid down arms and
abandoned what is called violence and tried peaceful bargaining. What did
the Jews give them? They did not give them even one per cent of their rights.
Time: America, the world's only superpower, has called you Public Enemy
No 1. Are you worried?
Hostility towards America is a religious duty. We hope to be rewarded for
it by God. To call us Enemy No 1 or 2 does not hurt us. Osama bin Laden
is confident that the Islamic nation will carry out its duty. I am confident
that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower
that is America.