Robert Fisk: Osama should have read my pieces on him more carefully

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The Independent Online

O lordy, lordy. So there's Bin Laden, hiding in his grotty pad in Abbottabad and he's waffling on about Fisk. Should The Independent's man in the Middle East and my old chum Abdul Bari Atwan be given exclusive material on the 10th anniversary of the international crimes against humanity of 9/11 (my definition, not OBL's, of course)? Can OBL be sent a translation of an article by Fisk entitled: "The Most Important Things About al-Qa'ida"? But forget the letters. Long ago – even before his incarceration in Abbottabad, one of his men asked me for a copy of my book The Great War for Civilisation in Arabic. OBL might learn a thing or two, I thought. And I dropped it off with a contact when I was next in Islamabad. Don't know if OBL read it – but he had plenty of time, didn't he, in his illusory safe house?

Then there's Adam Gadahn, Bin Laden's American spokesman, whose letter to his master includes a highly unflattering article I wrote about al-Qa'ida – in which I said that it is "one of the most sectarian organisation ever invented". A good translation. I bet Bin Laden enjoyed it, along with my condemnation of al-Qa'ida attacks on Christians in which I pointed out how these play into the hands of Bush and Blair. Did OBL take me seriously? Well, a lot of his outgoing mail condemned attacks on Christians and on Shia and Sunni Muslim mosques (especially in Pakistan). Bit late, though.

Then there's a funny passage in Gadahn's letter in which he quotes me as referring – cynically, I might add – to OBL "and his merry men". And there follows a potted history of Robin Hood (robbing from the rich to give to the poor, etc, which wasn't quite in my mind at the time) who supposedly set up road blocks. 'Shou?' as an Arab would say. What?

Deary me, these dotty folk – yes, I include OBL – spent their time in useless self-criticism, frustration at the "disasters" visited upon al-Qa'ida, vainly trying to cash in on the Arab Spring ("a formidable event") and demanding a new "media strategy" involving Fisk, Atwan and up to 48 others. Should have spent more time, shouldn't he, watching his contact messenger and the drones overhead.

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