The World According To...

Why we reject the West – by Osama bin Laden

10 July 1996: Robert Fisk has a remarkable encounter with Osama bin Laden in the mountains

Saturday 25 September 2021 22:19
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<p>Bin Laden with advisor Ayman Al-Zawahiri</p>

Bin Laden with advisor Ayman Al-Zawahiri

Osama bin Laden is a tall, slim man and when he walks towards me surrounded by his Arab “mujahideen” guerrillas in the mountains of Afghanistan, he towers over his companions. Huge insects fly through the night air, settling like burrs on his Saudi robes and on the clothes of his men.

Bin Laden’s narrow eyes and long beard were familiar amid the battlefields of Afghanistan where he and his guerrillas fought the Soviet invasion army of the eighties. His appearance is little changed, the beard a trifle greyer, perhaps, but the fierceness unquenched. Then he fought the Russians. Now, determined to overthrow the monarchy in Saudi Arabia and oust the Americans from the Kingdom, he is describing the bombings that slaughtered 24 Americans in Riyadh and Khobar-Dhahran as a symbol of Saudi anger, the presence of US forces as an “insult” to the Saudi people.

For bin Laden, the betrayal of the Saudi people began 24 years before his birth, when Abdul Aziz al-Saud proclaimed his kingdom in 1932.

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