Friday, 15 November 2002

No, they still haven't found him yet...

Award-winning journalist Robert Fisk has been face to face with Osama bin Laden three times - first in Sudan in 1993 and then in Afghanistan in 1996.

In March 1997 Fisk was granted an audience at one of the tyrant's mountain camps. He stayed overnight and was able to observe the billionaire at close quarters. Here, he gives his assessment of the latest bin Laden tape.


He is alive. There can be no doubt about it. But the questions remain: where on earth is he, and why has he resurfaced now?

by Robert Fisk

It is him. The man on the tape is Bin Laden. He is alive. It took only a brief flurry of phone calls to the Middle East and south-west Asia for the most impeccable sources to confirm that Osama bin Laden is alive and that it was his gravelly voice that threatens the West in the short monologue first transmitted by the Arab Al-Jazeera television channel.

So the Saudi billionaire, the man in the cave, the "Evil One", the bearded, ascetic man whom the greatest army on earth has sought in vain, is with us still. It's the real McCoy.

As usual, "US intelligence" – the heroes of 11 September who heard about Arabs learning to fly but didn't quite manage to tell us in time – came up with rubbish for the American media. It may be him. It's probably him. The gravelly voice may mean he's been hurt...

...The message to us – the West – is simple and repeated three times. If we want to back George Bush, the "pharaoh of the age" – and "pharaoh" is what Anwar Sadat's killers called the Egyptian president after his murder more than two decades ago – we will pay a price. "What business do your governments have in allying themselves with the gang of criminals in the White House against Muslims...?" I have heard Bin Laden use that Arabic expression ifarbatu al-idjran twice before in conversation with me. "Gang of criminals". Which is what the West has called "al-Qa'ida"...

...So what comes next? A few weeks ago, I was asked by a member of an American university audience where I thought the next blow would come. The two words I thought of were "oil tanker". This came under the label "total speculation". But I didn't want to give anyone any ideas. So I said nothing. The following week, al-Qa'ida struck the supertanker Limburg off Yemen. Now I search my mind for worse thoughts. And I prefer to end my story.

Full story...

The Coming Firestorm...

What Bush Wants Us To Forget...

A Collection of Other Articles by Robert Fisk...

No comments: