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John Miller and Osama bin Laden
ABCNEWS correspondent John Miller interviews Osama bin Laden in his secret hideaway in the mountains of Afghanistan. (ABCNEWS)
To Terror's Source
An Exclusive Interview with Osama Bin Laden
ABCNEWS.com

Sept. 11 — ABCNEWS correspondent John Miller interviewed Osama bin Laden in May 1998, three months after bin Laden issued a fatwa calling for the deaths of all Americans. Bin Laden is now the main suspect in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Fatwa   1993 WTC Bombing   Plot to Kill Clinton   Desire to Destroy U.S.   Saudi Royal Family   Next Targets  


America Attacked
Terror Strikes America
Meeting Bin Laden: Reporter's Notebook
Bin Laden Interview (Dec 1998)
 
Alleged Future Terror Plot Foiled
Generals Get Power to Shoot Civilian Jets
The Tragic Nonsense of Numbers
The interview was conducted on May 28, 1998. Miller and his crew were led by armed Islamic militants by foot through the mountains of southern Afghanistan to meet bin Laden at a secret hideaway.

JOHN MILLER   Mr. bin Laden, to Americans you are an interesting figure: A man who comes from a background of wealth and comforts who ended up fighting on the front lines. Many Americans would think that’s unusual.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   Thanks be to Allah. It is hard for one to understand if the person does not understand Islam. In our religion we believe that Allah created us to worship him. Allah is the one who created us and blessed us with this religion, and orders us to carry out the holy struggle jihad to raise the word of Allah above the words of the unbelievers.

We believe this is a form of worship we must follow despite our financial ability. This is a response to Westerners and secularists in the Arab world who claim the reason for the awakening and the return to Islam is financial difficulties. This is untrue. In fact, the return of the people to Islam is a blessing from Allah, and their return is a need for Allah.

This is not a strange issue. During the days of jihad, thousands of young men who were well off financially left the Arabian Peninsula and other areas and joined the fighting — hundreds of them were killed in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. We pray Allah grants them martyr status.

JOHN MILLER   You have been described as the "World's Most Wanted Man." There is word that the American government intends to put a price on your head in the millions for your capture. Do you think about that? Does it worry you?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   Praise be to Allah. It does not worry us what the Americans think. What worries us is pleasing Allah. The Americans impose themselves on everyone who believes in his religion and his rights. They accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorists. Those children that have no weapons and have not even reached maturity. At the same time they defend a country with its airplanes and tanks, and the state of the Jews, that has a policy to destroy the future of these children.

 
The exact location of bin Laden’s Afghan hideaway is a closely guarded secret.
(Magellan Geographix/ABCNEWS.com)
Clinton stands after Qana and defends the horrible massacre that severed the heads of children and killed about 100 persons. Clinton stands and claims Israel has the right to defend itself. We do not worry about American opinion, or the fact the place prices on our heads.

We as Muslims believe that our fate is set. If the whole world decides to get together and kill us before our time has come, we will not die, our livelihood is set. No matter how much pressure America places on the regime in Riyadh to freeze our assets and to prevent people from contributing to this great cause, we rely on Allah.

JOHN MILLER   You have said, "If the Americans are so brave they will come and arrest me." Do you think that is something my country will try?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia. We are ready for all occasions. We rely on Allah.

Fatwa Against Americans

JOHN MILLER   Mr. bin Laden, you have issued a fatwa calling on all Muslims to kill Americans where they can, when they can. Is that directed at all Americans, just American military, just Americans in Saudi Arabia?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   As we mentioned before, Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers, and especially the Arabian Peninsula where the Ke’ba is. After WWII, the Americans became more aggressive and oppressive, especially in the Muslim world.

We are surprised this question is coming from Americans. Each action will solicit a similar reaction. We must use such punishment to keep your evil away from Muslims, Muslim children and women. American history does not distinguish between civilians and military, and not even women and children. They are the ones who used the bombs against Nagasaki. Can these bombs distinguish between infants and military? America does not have a religion that will prevent it from destroying all people.

Your situation with Muslims in Palestine is shameful, if there is any shame left in America. In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, a cooperation between Zionist and Christian forces, houses were demolished over the heads of children. Also, by testimony of relief workers in Iraq, the American-led sanctions resulted in the death of over 1 million Iraqi children.

All of this was done in the name of American interests. We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means.

We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets in this fatwa. Especially since American officials were released after the Khobar bombing, asking all American civilians to contact the security department in the embassy with information on Muslims and activists. The fatwa includes all that share or take part in killing of Muslims, assaulting holy places, or those who help the Jews occupy Muslim land.

1993 World Trade Center Bombing

JOHN MILLER   Ramzi Yousef was a follower. Do you remember him? Did you know him?

Osama bin Laden: Ramzi Yousef, after the World Trade Center bombing became a well known Muslim personality, and all Muslims know him. Unfortunately, I did not know him before the incident.

I remember him as a Muslim who defended Islam from American aggression. He took this effort to let the Americans know that their government assaults Muslims to insure Israeli interest, to insure Jews.

American will see many youths who will follow Ramzi Yousef.

JOHN MILLER   Is it true that when Ramzi Yousef was captured, he was in a guesthouse that you were paying for?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   What was broadcast in the news and what we learned is that he was captured in Pakistan in a hotel.

Plot to Kill President Clinton

JOHN MILLER   Wali Khan Amin Shah was captured in Manila. American authorities believed he was working for you, funded by you, setting up training camps there and that part of his plan was to plan the assassination of President Clinton during his trip to Manila.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   Wali Khan is a Muslim youth. In Afghanistan, he is nicknamed "The Lion." He is one of the best youths. We were good friends. We fought together in the same trench against the Russians until Allah sent them away in humiliating defeat. You mentioned that he works for me — we do not have anyone who works for someone else. We all work for Allah and await his reward. And regarding your mention of his attempt to assassinate President Clinton, it is not surprising. I did not know about it, but it is not surprising.

As I said, every action solicits a similar reaction. What does Clinton expect from those whom he killed and assaulted their children and mothers? This is not a surprising matter.

JOHN MILLER   Federal authorities in the United States are still investigating their suspicion that you ordered and funded the attacks on the United States military in El Khohar and Riyadh.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We roused the people, the Muslims, and carried fatwas from our Ulima after the Saudi government imprisoned them to placate the American government. The most prominent are Dhekh Salman ben Fahd al-Odeh, Safad ben Abdel Rahman el Awli.

So we carried these fatwas and roused the people to eject this enemy from the holy land, some of the people listened, from among them, Khaled el-Sa'eed, Abdel Azziz el Me'them, Hamood al Hajery and Misleh el Samray. We pray Allah grants them martyr status. They have raised the head of the Muslim nation high, and washed away some of the dishonor we had to bear by the Saudi government's collaboration with the American government in the land of Allah.

We look at these young men as great heroes and martyrs who followed the steps of the prophet peace upon him. We called and they answered. We pray to Allah to accept them and bless their parents with patience.

JOHN MILLER   You have been painted in America as a terrorist leader. To your followers you are a hero. How do you see yourself?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   As I said before, we do not worry about what America says. We look at ourselves and our brethren as worshipers of Allah who created us to worship him and follow his books and prophets. I am one of Allah's worshipers. I worship Allah, which includes carrying out the jihad to raise Allah's word and evict the Americans from all Muslim land.

Desire to Destroy the U.S.

JOHN MILLER   No one expected the mujahideen to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan that caused a surprise to everyone. What do you see as the future for the American involvement in the Middle East and taking on groups like yours?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   NATO, that America created, we know it spent $455 billion American dollars in improving weaponry to protect Europe and America from Russia, and they did not fire a single shot. Allah stood with the Muslims, the Afghani mujahideen, and those who fought with them from other Muslim countries. We fought against the Russians and the Soviet Union until, not to say we defeated them, but Allah defeated them, they became nonexistent. There is a lesson to learn from this for he who wishes to learn.

The Soviet Union entered in the last week of 1979, in December, and with Allah's help their flag was folded Dec. 25 a few years later and thrown in the trash, and there was nothing left to call Soviet Union.

We are sure of Allah's victory and our victory against the Americans and the Jews as promised by the prophet peace be up on him: "Judgment day shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, whereas the Jews will hide behind trees and stones, and the tree and the stone will speak and say 'Muslim, behind me a Jew come and kill him', except for the al-Ghargad tree, which is a Jewish plant."

We are sure of our victory. Our battle with the Americans is larger than our battle with the Russians. The Americans made a very stupid mistake that no one has made before. They attached the Muslim symbol, the Kibla, of 200 million people. The reaction was very encouraging by the Muslim scholars and the youth.

We predict a black day for America and the end of the United States as United States, and will be separate states, and will retreat from our land and collect the bodies of its sons back to America. Allah willing.

The Saudi Royal Family

JOHN MILLER   What do you see as the future of the Saudi Royal family and their involvement with America and United States military?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   History has an answer to your question. Any government that sells its peoples' interests and betrays its people and takes actions that removes it from the Muslim nation will not succeed.

We predict that the Riyadh leader and those with him that stood with the Jews and Christians and forfeited Al-Haramien, the holy shrines, to Jews and Christians with American identities or other will disintegrate. They have left the Muslim nation.

We predict that like the Iran Royal family, the Shah, they will disperse and disappear. After Allah gave them property on the most sacred land and gave them wealth that is unheard of before from oil, still they sinned and did not value Allah's gift. We predict destruction and dispersal after they in a great devastation against the Muslim nation, especially what happens to the Muslim people of Iraq.

The prophet said, "A woman entered hell because of a cat. She did not feed it and blocked it from finding food on its own." She is going to hell for blocking cat to death, but what say to those who agreed and gave reason for the hundreds of thousands of troops to blockade millions of Muslims in Iraq?

JOHN MILLER   Do you think the Saudi government wants the American military to stay?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   This does not a make a difference, since American opposition, aggression and greed still exists. They came by word of government. It does not make a difference if the government wants you to stay or leave, you will leave when the youth send you the wooden boxes and the coffins, and you will carry in it the bodies of American troops and civilians. This is when you will leave.

The Muslim masses are moving toward liberating the Muslim worlds. Allah willing, we will win.

His Next Targets

JOHN MILLER   Describe the situation when your men took on the Americans in Somalia? Were you there?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   After Allah honored us with victory in Afghanistan, and justice prevailed and the killing of those who slaughtered millions of Muslims in the Muslim republics, it cleared from Muslim minds the myth of superpowers. The youth ceased from seeing America as a superpower. After leaving Afghanistan they headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle, thinking that the Americans were like the Russians, but they were surprised when the Americans entered with 300,000 troops, and collected more troops from the world — 5,000 from Pakistan, 5,000 from India, 5,000 from Bangladesh, 5,000 from Egypt, Senegal and others like Saudi Arabia.

The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the America soldiers are paper tigers. After a few blows, they ran in defeat and America forgot about all the hoopla and media propaganda after leaving the Gulf War and destroying infrastructure — and destroying baby formula factories, all civilian factories, bridges and dams that help planting food — about being the world leader, and the leader of the new world order. After a few blows, they forgot about this title and left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat and stopped using such titles. And they learned in America that this name is larger then them.

When this took place, I was in Sudan, and this great defeat pleased me very much, the way it pleases all Muslims.

Allah willing the next victory will be in Hejaz and Najd, Saudi Arabia, and it will make the Americans forget the horrors of Vietnam and Beirut.

JOHN MILLER   Many Americans believe that fighting army to army like what happened in Afghanistan is heroic for either army, but setting off bombs killing civilians and innocents like the World Trade Center is terrorism.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   He is using talk that they are not following. After our victory in Afghanistan and defeating the Russians, the world media, led by the American media, started a campaign against us that is still going on today despite the fact that the Russians left in 1989, almost 10 years ago. They have carried out this campaign accusing us of being terrorists without any action being taken by the mujahideen against the real terrorists, the Americans. That is one side.

On the other side, American policy does not admit to differentiating between civilians, military, and child, human or animal. Examples I mentioned before are Nagasaki and Hiroshima where they tried to eliminate a whole people.

When it comes to Muslims, there is testimony from Westerners and Christians who testified to the death of hundreds of thousands of our children in Iraq. And there is Qana, Sabra and Shattila, Dir Yasin and Bosnia.

The crusaders continued their slaughter of our mothers, sisters and children. America every time makes a decision to support them and prevent weapons from reaching the Muslims, and allow Serbian butchers to slaughter Muslims.

You do not have a religion that prevents you from carrying out these actions and therefore you do not have the right to object to like treatment. Every action solicits a reaction. It is a punishment that fits the crime. At the same time, our primary target are military and those in its employment.

Our religion forbids us to kill innocents — children, women who are not combatants. Women soldiers who place themselves in the battle trenches receive the same treatment as fighting men.

Coordination of Global Terror

JOHN MILLER   Is there a high council of the leaders of different groups like yours that decides on ways and means to attack Americans?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   After the Americans entered the Holy Land, many emotions were roused in the Muslim world, more than we have seen before. A great meeting took place a few days ago in Pakistan, and it was attended by 150 scholars in Pakistan. The goal of the meeting was to work toward liberating the Holy Land and coordinate efforts between Muslim masses in the area.

Also, with Allah's blessings, scholars from Afghanistan, India and other Muslim nations' individual fatwas were passed, but here great joint fatwas were passed. The cooperation is expanding between general supporters of this religion. From this effort, the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders was formed, which we are a member of with other groups. It has a higher council to coordinate rousing the Muslim nation to carry out jihad against the Jews and the crusaders.

JOHN MILLER   The American People by the large do not know the name Osama bin Laden, but they soon will. Do you have a message to the American people?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   I say that the American people gave leadership to a traitorous leadership. This became very clear and especially in Clinton's government. The American government, we think, is an agent that represents the Israel inside America. If we look at sensitive departments in the present government like the Department of Defense or the State Department, or sensitive security departments like the CIA and others, we find that Jews have the first word in the American government, which is how they use America to carry out their plans in the world and especially the Muslim world.

The presence of Americans in the Holy Land supports the Jews and gives them a safe back. The American government, in a time where there are millions of Americans living on the street and those living below the standard of living and below the poverty line, we find the American government turning toward helping Israel in occupying our land and building settlements in the Holy Land.

The American government is throwing away the lives of Americans in Saudi Arabia for the interests of the Jews. The Jews are a people who Allah cited in his holy book the Koran as those who attacked prophets with lies and killings, and attacked Mary and accused her of a great sin. They are a people who killed Allah's prophets — would they not kill, rape and steal from humans?

They believe that all humans are created for their use, and found that the Americans are the best-created beings for that use. The American government is driving America to destruction and those same ones have no doubts about America being a superpower in the next decade.

So, we tell the American as a people, and we tell the mothers of soldiers, and American mothers in general, if they value their lives and those of their children, find a nationalistic government that will look after their interests and not the interest of the Jews.

The continuation of the tyranny will bring the fighting to America, like Ramzi Yousef and others. This is my message to the American people to look for a serious government that looks out for their interest and does not attack others, their lands or their honor.

JOHN MILLER   Mr. bin Laden, these are most of the questions we came with. Is there anything else that I did not ask that you would like to add?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We would like to stress that we are on close contact with Muslim masses, praise be to Allah. The issue of liberating Holy Lands is not my personal desire, but I am just a worshiper of Allah and one of Allah's soldiers in the Muslim nation.

The movement is driving fast and light forward. And I am sure of our victory with Allah's help against America and the Jews. We see this then in the strength of the reaction, that every day the Americans delay their departure, for every day they delay, they will receive a new corpse from Muslim countries.

The Saudi Arabian government captured a few months ago in Ramadan a number of missiles, anti aircraft missiles, SAM and stringer missiles.

Can the America government explain to its people when a SAM missile is launched against a passenger military airplane with 250 soldiers abroad? Can they justify their deaths? What the Saudi Arabian government captured is much less than what was not captured. The American government, if it has anything left to hang on to, has no choice but to pull its sons from the Holy Land especially and the Muslim land in general. And to refrain from supporting in any way the Israeli government and Jews who occupy our land.

Relationship with Sheik Abdel Rahman

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We place the complete responsibility on the American government of any attacks against Muslims and its support of regimes in our countries against the best interest of the people. We also hold them responsible for its attacks on Islamic symbols, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who is considered one of most prominent Islamic scholars who Allah gave the courage to speak the truth.

We hear that he is in a bad health condition, and he is a man beyond 60 years of age and is blind and America treats him badly. The imprisonment of Sheik Omar is an attack on the Muslim religion, and countries. We hold it completely responsible for the imprisonment of Sheik Omar and the imprisonment of other Muslims in America.

My word to American journalists is not to ask why we did that, but to ask what had their government done that forced us to defend ourselves?

This is all I have to say.

JOHN MILLER   What are you going to do, just picking a word or two, did he by any chance mention the new fatwa issued by Abdel Rahman last week?

OSAMA BIN LADEN   No.

JOHN MILLER   I was wondering if you could tell me the story of the gun behind you and how you got it? It is a kind of a legend in many ways, that during the Afghan war you got it in hand-to-hand combat with Russians who were on a three day assault on the camp.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We went through vicious battles with the Russians. It is enough to just say with Russians, the are known in the West for their brutality and viciousness. They used poisonous gas against us, and I was subjected to this. They used airplanes against our position, and we lost many fighters, but we were able to deter many commando attacks, unlike anything before.

JOHN MILLER   From history, in 1897, Teddy Roosevelt was a wealthy man who grew up in a privileged situation who fought on the frontline, put together his own team not from the army, handpicked his own men and went into battle. You are like the Middle East version of Teddy Roosevelt.

OSAMA BIN LADEN   We are worshipers of Allah and we carry out our duties. Our duty is to call on all nations to join the light. Our first duty is being people of this religion and to fight for this religion.

Since we grew up, American weapons were on our heads and the heads of our children and mothers, like in Qana and others.

The Westerners have been under the impression that we are butchers. They just only need to look at their brother in Eastern Europe, Turkey and Albania to see those who embraced Islam and lived happily with it for centuries. The Westem masses have fallen under the effect of Jewish media who do not broadcast on Muslims except that we butcher, and without showing that of number of those us who were butchered is the biggest number.

It is our duty to lead people to light.

 
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