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CNN Presents: In the Footsteps of bin Laden
Aired August 23, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a young gentleman, very gentle, very polite. He said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the most popular Muslim leader in the Islamic world today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear his voice it makes you want to stand up right away, to join him and fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he's good at is killing civilians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's extraordinarily important that we kill bin Laden.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Osama bin Laden is the world's most wanted terrorist. He haunts Americans and millions of other around the world.
AMANPOUR: He also inspires many to fight in a way that he intends to be long, costly and bloody. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Peshawar, Pakistan, the birthplace of bin Laden's terrorist organization al Qaeda.
Not far from here just across the border in Afghanistan he disappeared shortly after 9/11. And now, five years later, we still don't know where he is or when he will strike again.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): He wasn't a born leader and he didn't always despise the west, so what changed bin Laden? What shaped this son of Saudi wealth into the most feared terrorist of our time?
To know more about Osama bin Laden, to bring you his whole story, we visited his home, his headquarters, his hideouts. We journeyed in his footsteps from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Afghanistan.
We searched for answers from those who actually know him, his childhood friend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never talked about the American people in a nasty way.
AMANPOUR: His English teacher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He understood a reasonable amount of English but he was rather reticent in expressing himself.
AMANPOUR: The man who married his sister and was bin Laden's closest friend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Osama always talked about his father all the time, his father, his model.
AMANPOUR: Men who fought with him in the early days and saw another side of Osama bin Laden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When bin Laden used to hear the explosions he used to jump and he used to run away. I still remember that me and my elder and younger brother we used to laugh.
AMANPOUR: We met those who revere him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He is the one who stood up against the biggest enemy in the world, the United States, and we love him for that.
OSAMA BIN LADEN, NOVEMBER 11, 2001: If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, if killing those who kill our children is terrorism, then history should be a witness that we are terrorists.
AMANPOUR: He's a terrorist with surprising media savvy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was foreshadowing a plan that was already in effect.
AMANPOUR: He had a double agent.
ALI MOHAMMED: My name is Ali Mohammed.
AMANPOUR: Working deep inside the U.S. military and he has repeatedly warned America that he is going to attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said the next few weeks will carry a big surprise.
AMANPOUR: Those who have prayed with him, lived with him and fought for him share the story of his gradual but deadly transformation from a quiet, religious boy to the angry voice of holy war.
Osama bin Laden grew up in the boom town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a town his father helped build.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia in the 1960s was, of course, a fantastically wealthy kingdom. Jeddah was its main door to the west. It was its main port on the Red Sea and a huge amount of building taking place.
BRIAN FYFIELD-SHAYLER: I'm Brian Fyfield-Shayler. I taught Osama bin Laden English in Saudi Arabia in 1968 to 1969. Osama sat about two-thirds of the way back on the right by the windows. He was not an outstanding student academically. On the other hand, he was a very bright boy.
AMANPOUR: Although Arabic and religious instruction took priority, the al-Fagr (ph) school, one of the top schools in the kingdom, was surprising progressive.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The boys had a western uniform. They had trousers and shirts and jackets and shoes.
AMANPOUR: Fyfield-Shayler had taught a number of bin Laden's brothers. Osama's family was well known in Saudi Arabia. His father's career was the stuff of legend.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The bin Ladens were almost a storybook success.
AMANPOUR: In Saudi Arabia, the bin Laden name is everywhere. It's a vast empire with humble beginnings. The family patriarch, Mohammed, seen here in rare photographs, rose from a menial laborer to head one of the largest and most successful construction companies in the Middle East.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He built the airport. He built virtually everything that was standing more than two meters high had been built by bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: Mohammed bin Laden's business acumen would be passed on to his son Osama, who years later would draw on those same skills to set up his terror network. What makes this rare glimpse of Mohammed bin Laden so extraordinary is that he's seen here with Faisal al-Saud, the man who would become the Saudi king. It highlights bin Laden's very close relationship with Saudi royalty, a connection critical to his extraordinary success.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: And he was quite a rough, unsophisticated character and no airs, graces.
AMANPOUR: Unsophisticated but fabulously wealthy and Mohammed bin Laden had many wives, about 20 all tolled, repeatedly divorcing and re-marrying.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: And the old man was known to have an eye for alarmingly young wives. These were very often quite unsophisticated simple girls from the -- from the villages.
AMANPOUR: He had more than 50 children. Osama was born in 1957 here in this Riyadh neighborhood. He was the only child his mother had with Mohammed bin Laden before they divorced. Then, bin Laden and his mother Alia moved to Jeddah and lived here apart from the other wives and children. Mohammed bin Laden died when Osama was just ten years old.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The school was abuzz with the news that Mohammed bin Laden had been killed in a plane crash. AMANPOUR: With so many siblings it's hard to say how close Osama was to his father or how the loss affected him. This photograph from the early 1970s shows some of the many bin Laden brothers and sisters on a vacation in Sweden.
Although it's not certain, some believe that this smiling boy, second from the right, is Osama when he was about 13 years old. He was quiet and shy. His teacher says he rarely spoke up in class.
FYFIELD-SHAYLER: He didn't show any particular signs of being a leader amongst men.
KHALID BATARFI: Yes, well he was a shy boy. He wouldn't talk unless he needed to. He would listen more. I'm Khalid Batarfi. I met Osama bin Laden in the early 1970s when we lived in this neighborhood.
AMANPOUR: This non-descript middle-class Jeddah neighborhood is where Batarfi, then age 12, and bin Laden three years older became neighbors and best friends going to the mosque together, playing together, watching TV together, among their favorite shows American westerns and Bruce Lee movies.
BATARFI: We would watch cowboys movies and karate movies, things that, you know, action movies.
AMANPOUR: Batarfi took us to the field where he and bin Laden played soccer as teenagers.
BATARFI: And just looking at it brings a lot of memories and I enjoyed being a captain really, you know, telling people what to do.
AMANPOUR: On the soccer field Batarfi was the leader, Osama the follower.
BATARFI: But I would tell him what to do and he was a good soldier. He would follow orders. Usually because he was taller than most of us and older he would play in the front because this way he could use his head in a score.
AMANPOUR: Batarfi says the teenage Osama would usually take the high road. He remembers a time his friend was being bullied.
BATARFI: So I went running to the guy and I pushed him away from Osama and solved problem this way. But then Osama came to me and said, "You know, if you waited a few minutes I would have solved the problem peacefully." So, this was the kind of guy who would always think of solving problems peacefully.
AMANPOUR: While Batarfi took the lead on the playing field, when it came to religion there was no question Osama was in charge.
BATARFI: At the mosque we used to pray, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Five times every day devout Muslims turn towards the holy city of Mecca to pray. Osama was always among them. BATARFI: For him it was a must.
AMANPOUR: It is something of a mystery why this son of a wealthy family was drawn to such rigid religious beliefs. Over time, Batarfi saw his best friend become even more of a fundamentalist striving to live according to his ultra strict interpretation of the holy Koran.
BATARFI: No pictures, no music, and after that not even TV unless there's news.
AMANPOUR: Osama's religious devotion went beyond living a simple pious life. He had begun to believe it was his duty to prepare to one day fight for and defend Islam, Osama's training ground the desolate Saudi desert. The son of a multimillionaire was now preparing for a life without luxuries or even basic essentials, a life as a holy warrior.
BATARFI: I heard from his brothers that when they go there they sleep on the sand. There's no blanket if it's cold and, you know, like soldiers.
AMANPOUR: Batarfi had no desire to join Osama's army so the two friends began to drift apart.
BATARFI: I would prefer the beach. I was more romantic. You know I was thinking of love. He was thinking of love of God.
AMANPOUR: But how did Osama bin Laden's love of God become a mission to kill?
AMANPOUR: (AUDIO GAP) King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
JAMAL KHALIFA: I am Jamal Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. The first time I met him in King Abdulaziz University in 1976.
AMANPOUR: The 21-year-old Khalifa and bin Laden became very close.
KHALIFA: He loved horses a lot, especially the Arabian horses.
AMANPOUR: When bin Laden would journey on horseback into the Saudi desert he would travel with few supplies, always testing himself perhaps in preparation for a different life.
KHALIFA: We have our dates with us in our pockets and water. That's it. We sleep on the sands.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden also took his children, seen here, into the desert subjecting them to the same regimen. KHALIFA: So, at least the children would feel that sometimes they have to be tough.
AMANPOUR: Despite his wealth, bin Laden also insisted on few comforts at home.
BATARFI: I went to visit him and I noticed that the apartment was very bare. There were no pictures. The carpet was cheap. Things were, you know, I wouldn't live there myself.
KHALIFA: He likes to be very, very, very simple.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: In Hollywood terms, bin Laden has a great back story. My name is Peter Bergen. I met Osama bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan in March of 1997.
AMANPOUR: Peter Bergen, a CNN consultant, is the author of "The Osama bin Laden I know." This documentary is based in part on his groundbreaking reporting.
BERGEN: Here's the son of a billionaire who lives a very frugal, simple life. He's sleeping on a floor. He's not using air- conditioning, won't even drink cold water and I think this sort of simple life is one of the reasons that his followers find him attractive.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden may not have lived the lifestyle of a wealthy man but according to his close friend he did use his wealth to save the life of his son.
BATARFI: His first child needed some medical attention.
AMANPOUR: Batarfi was told that bin Laden took his son to the United States.
BATARFI: In Washington airport, Dulles Airport, people were surprised at the way he dressed, his wife dressed. Some of them were even taking photos and he was kind of joking about it. We were like in a zoo.
BERGEN: Undoubtedly, bin Laden took his son for medical treatment to a western country and it's either the United States or the United Kingdom. There's some kind of controversy about that. But this would have been one of the very rare occasions when bin Laden actually traveled to the west.
AMANPOUR: During this period while studying for his degree, bin Laden worked construction projects for his father's company.
KHALIFA: Osama always talk about his father all the time. Osama really loves his father a lot and always he's trying to imitate him in his business and in his work.
AMANPOUR: Construction worker, university student, husband, father, and survivalist, Osama bin Laden was leading one life while preparing for another. An heir to one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families he did not want to stand out at least not yet.
KHALIFA: He doesn't like really to be a leader, never put himself in a position to be a leader.
AMANPOUR: But that would soon change. Bin Laden was about to be swept up in a movement that would carry him from student to the leader of a holy war. It was a religious movement, one that would pit young Muslims against the establishment. It was called Sawa (ph) or the Islamic awakening.
KHALIFA: It was the Sawa. At that time it's all about religion and about how to practice Islam.
BERGEN: The Sawa was the Islamic awakening of the 1970s. It was particularly appealing to somebody like bin Laden who is already very religious because Islamic awakening suggests that we're going to create more just Islamic societies around the Middle East.
JAMAL KHASHOGGI, JOURNALIST: He come from a generation of angry Islamists who wanted to change the Muslim world. My name is Jamal Khashoggi. I met Osama bin Laden in 1987 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
AMANPOUR: Khashoggi was himself caught up in the awakening. As a Saudi journalist he spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and later in Sudan.
(on camera): How was Osama bin Laden influenced by the Muslim brotherhood?
KHASHOGGI: He started with the Muslim brotherhood in Saudi Arabia. He was very much influenced.
BERGEN: The Muslim brotherhood was born in Egypt and again and again bin Laden is influenced by Egyptian ideas, Egyptian political organizations and Egyptian people and they tend to move him in a more radical and militant direction over time.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): This man, Syed Qutb, was an inspiration for the Muslim brotherhood. He was executed in 1966 for what many believe was a trumped up charge of attempting to overthrow the Egyptian government.
His book "Milestones" was must reading for jihadists and still is today. It challenges the long accepted belief that holy war should only be waged in response to an attack. Qutb justifies something new, holy war that attacks the enemy first.
BERGEN: All these things are now coming together for bin Laden, the Islamic awakening, the fact that he's joined the Muslim brotherhood, the fact that he's reading Syed Qutb and these are politicizing him and giving him the idea that we need to create more perfect Islamic states around the Muslim world.
AMANPOUR: 1979 would be a critical year for the Islamic awakening. The Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran. Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy. Muslim militants around the world were electrified. That same year the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest of sites, became a battleground when militants seized it and the Saudi government sent in troops.
Osama bin Laden was appalled that such a holy place had been defiled. And then one month later the final blow. The Soviet Union, godless and communist, invaded Afghanistan, a Muslim country. It was an affront to Islam.
One year, three monumental events that would change bin Laden forever. The once shy, religious boy was about to answer the call to a violent jihad and he would never look back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."
AMANPOUR: 1979, Afghanistan, Soviet troops invade an Islamic nation. A call for jihad against the infidels sounds throughout the Muslim world, a call raised by men like Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian cleric, charismatic and deeply spiritual. He is the man who would mentor and shape Osama bin Laden throughout much of the 1980s.
HUTAIFA AZZAM: My name is Hutaifa Azzam. I've been living with bin Laden for more than eight years continuously you could say.
AMANPOUR: Hutaifa is Abdullah Azzam's son. This is his first interview for western television.
AZZAM: My father was teaching Islamic and Arabic studies and Osama bin Laden was studying engineering at that time.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden was drawn to the influential cleric seen here in Afghanistan. He was the ideological force behind the call for jihad and he implored the young and impressionable Osama to follow him.
AZZAM: At the end of 1984, the end of summer, my father told him "You have to leave with me. I'm leaving to Pakistan and Afghanistan."
AMANPOUR: But bin Laden was hesitant to follow.
AZZAM: He said, "No. I cannot leave Saudi Arabia without having the permission of King Fahd."
AMANPOUR: At this time, bin Laden was still deeply loyal to his family with its strong ties to the ruling house of Saud but the king encouraged volunteers to go fight with the Afghans. Bin Laden responded. He made the move from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People call me Abdullah Anas. I remember I met Osama in 1984 in Abdullah Azzam's house in Islamabad.
AMANPOUR: Anas was one of many Arab Muslims recruited by Abdullah Azzam to wage jihad in Afghanistan. He is seen here with Azzam and two of his sons Ibrahim and Hutaifa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheikh Abdullah was the father figure of all of us. You can't imagine how he loved Osama bin Laden.
BERGEN: The picture you get of bin Laden at this point in his life he's shy, he's retiring, he's monosyllabic. People barely get a word out of him. And he's completely overshadowed by his mentor Abdullah Azzam, who is a larger than life charismatic figure and somebody who really had a father/son relationship with bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: I traveled here to the city of Peshawar, Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan to find out more about bin Laden and his mentor Abdullah Azzam. Peshawar is a bustling frontier town, the perfect gateway for smugglers, spies, mercenaries and Mujahadeen, those holy warriors who came to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can find the arms. You can buy Kalashnikov. You can sell it. It's an open area, completely open area.
AMANPOUR (on camera): It was in this neighborhood that Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam set up the headquarters of an organization they called the Services Bureau. It was to assist Muslim fighters heading into Afghanistan and also Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet Army.
(voice-over): The Services Bureau was run by Azzam. Osama bin Laden was the financier, donating some of his own fortune, and the money he collected from other wealthy Saudis.
(on camera): One of these houses, we're told, used to be a guest house, where the recruits would come before entering Afghanistan. They'd be given weapons and clothing, as well as military and ideological training. Bin Laden himself trained at one of the camps.
AZZAM: The training on weapons and how to use weapon, how to fight, how to join the battles. Together we were with bin Laden, yes.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bin Laden's time in the shadow of his mentor, Abdullah Azzam, would be short-lived. No longer content to merely fund the fight, bin Laden yearned to join it. His countless hours and days in the harsh Saudi desert without shelter and with few provisions had prepared him for this moment. It was always his belief that he was destined to be a holy warrior.
BERGEN: I think he's always modeled himself on the Prophet Mohammed and the Prophet Mohammed was not only a great religious figure but was also somebody who personally battled the infidels. And so, for bin Laden, it would be important to continue in the Prophet Mohammed's footsteps.
AMANPOUR: For bin Laden the early days on the battlefield were terrifying.
AZZAM: When bin Laden used to hear the explosions, he used to jump and he used to run away. I still remember that me and my elder and younger brother, we used to laugh.
AMANPOUR: But several years on the battlefield would harden bin Laden. Fear gave way to ambition. Mohammed bin Laden's shy and reticent young son, Osama, once reluctant to lead, was now ready to command his own all-Arab army in Afghanistan.
ABDULLAH ANAS, FORMER ARAB FIGHTER: Osama started to think about governing all Arabs, as much as he can and put them in one camp, in one front.
AMANPOUR: His mentor adamantly opposed this idea. It was the beginning of a rift that would never heal.
AZZAM: Bin Laden went and he built up his own camps. He built up his own front and he started doing his own battles. My father doesn't want Arab to work separately and that's what bin Laden did in 1987.
BERGEN: Bin Laden decided to create this all Arab army because the young Arabs he was recruiting were willing to martyr themselves, were willing to take incredible personal risk and it was this group of people that bin Laden molded to take on the Soviets directly.
AMANPOUR: Their first test was the battle of Jaji in the Spring of 1987. Azzam fought alongside bin Laden, who was suffering from low blood pressure in the thin, mountain air.
AZZAM: It was a very, very hard battle. And he joined the battle while he was ill and he was having this low pressure and my father told him to take respite, he refuses. And he joined the battle for more than four days.
AMANPOUR: The Russians fell back. Jaji was the first victory for bin Laden's Arab army.
BERGEN: It was not a particularly significant moment in the Afghan war. But from a psychological point of view, it was really the beginning of, sort of, bin Laden's almost mythic persona, because a group of Arabs had held off the Soviets. It got a lot of play in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: The once reticent and terrified bin Laden was now hailed as a fearless leader, a hero on the front lines of Jihad.
AZZAM: He's brave, and he's ready to give his life. He's not a coward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I visited the sight of that battle with him in Jaji.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden invited journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Afghanistan. It was a bit of PR in his new campaign to become Osama, the general. The beginning of his media strategy to draw attention to himself, and his message, a skill he would come to perfect. Khashoggi took this picture, he says the first one ever published of bin Laden.
(on camera): So far Osama, Jaji was a recruiting tool.
KHASHOGGI: It was a recruiting tool. It was the start of having an independent front, where he become the Amir, the leader of those Arab mujahedeen who are guarded around him.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): In 1988, the Soviets, worn down and demoralized, began to withdraw from Afghanistan. And bin Laden, now battle-hardened, returned to Peshawar, a holy warrior, without a war. But this man would soon change that, Ayman al Zawahiri.
AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI, BIN LADEN FOLLOWER: We are Muslims who is believe in their religion.
AMANPOUR: A radical Egyptian who would give bin Laden the enemy he was looking for.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Arab fighters, all smiles, after the battle of Jaji. They made their stand. The Soviets, the infidels, were repelled. In 1988, Osama bin Laden emerged the hero, his exploits on this Afghan battlefield were immortalized in Jihad magazine, published by bin Laden himself and his long-time mentor, Abdullah Azzam. The battle of Jaji made bin Laden, and he was happy to exploit his new found fame.
AZZAM: Everybody said that he won the battle in Jaji. Newspapers, magazines, everybody is talking about it. He became a hero.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden's soaring confidence and abundant wealth would soon attract those looking to exploit this rising star, militants like Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor with plans to separate bin Laden from his money, and from his mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
AZZAM: The Egyptian told him that if you come, we will make you the leader, so we can build up our own organization. We can give you, we call it Amir, we can give you the leader of that organization.
AMANPOUR: Zawahiri had spent three years in Egypt's notorious prisons for his Jihadist activities.
ZAWAHIRI: We want to speak to the whole world.
AMANPOUR: Embittered after years of torture at the hands of the Egyptian government, Zawahiri was determined to overthrow the secular regimes of the Middle East. His was not a battle for a peace of land. He wanted an Islamic world without borders.
ZAWAHIRI: We are Muslims. We are Muslims who believe in their religion.
AMANPOUR: But Azzam disapproved of Muslims fighting Muslims. For him, Holy War was about defending Muslim lands against the infidels. Two divergent influences, one old, one new. This is how bin Laden's transformation began, from warrior to extremist.
BERGEN: Bin Laden was increasingly being influenced by Egyptian militants around in his cycle who were saying let's overthrow all of these secular governments in the Middle East, and Abdullah Azzam was opposed to that because he didn't want to be part of anything that pitted Muslims against Muslims.
AMANPOUR: Armed with a radical, new ideology, bin Laden was ready to step out from behind Azzam, ready to lead his army on to the next war.
(on camera): And that army would take shape here, in Peshawar, Pakistan, in this neighborhood, where Osama bin Laden lived. Meetings were held, plans were made. This is where al Qaeda was born.
(voice-over): And these are the actual minutes of those first meetings, a written record of the creation of an organization called al Qaeda, or the base. These notes obtained by CNN, are seen here for the first time on television.
BERGEN: When al Qaeda was founded, there was no thought of attacking the United States. That would come much, much later. The program was really about training people for jihads outside Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: The minutes list bin Laden and the other attendees. There were strict requirements to join al Qaeda, some surprising ones. They must, for example, have good manners, and good references, and they must recite an oath to listen and obey the superiors. In al Qaeda's structure and flow chart, bin Laden showed that he was his father's son.
BERGEN: Bin Laden comes out of a business background. His father was one of the most successful businessman in the Middle East. Bin Laden himself studied at the university so he modeled al Qaeda in a rather sort of business model. He was sort of the CEO, there committees for military affairs, religious affairs, financial fairs and media affairs.
AMANPOUR: Al Qaeda made members sign an employment contract. There was a benefits package, vacations home, complete with round-trip airline tickets. Vacation requests had to be submitted two and a half months before the travel date.
Recruits were soon put to the test. In February, 1989, the Soviets in the last stages of their withdrawal left behind a puppet Afghan communist government. For Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, victory in Afghanistan was not yet complete. They joined the battle against the Afghan communists in Jalalabad, near the Pakistan border.
EDWARD GIRARDET, BRITISH JOURNALIST: My name is Edward Girardet and I first met Osama bin Laden in 1989 in Kunar Province of Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: Girardet, a British journalist was covering the battle of Jalalabad. He remembers a chance but chilling encounter with bin Laden during the fighting.
GIRARDET: We arrived at the front line and suddenly this very tall Arab came up to me, walked up and said, "You know, what are you doing here?" And he said, "This is the jihad and you've absolutely no right to be here and you should leave."
AMANPOUR: Girardet had never heard of bin Laden, but for the next 45 minutes, the mysterious Arab warrior spoke in English. Religion was the topic of discussion.
GIRARDET: And then as our conversation came to an end, I reached out my hand to bid good-bye and he said, "I can't shake your hand." And as I turned away, he said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."
AMANPOUR: On the battlefield in Jalalabad, bin Laden was a dismal failure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost more than 45 kilometers because of his mistake.
AMANPOUR: And he lost many soldiers, among those in the militant community, like Egyptian Osama Rushdi, bin Laden's reputation took a hit.
OSAMA RUSHDI, FORMER EGYPTIAN MILITANT (voice-over): Lots of people criticized Osama bin Laden because he led the Arab fighters into the battle for Jalalabad in a very disorganized way. More than 300 of them were killed.
AMANPOUR: Shortly after the battle, bin Laden returned home to Saudi Arabia
PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: My name is Turki al-Faisal. I met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 1985.
AMANPOUR: Prince Turki al-Faisal was the head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service. He told me that in 1990, bin Laden offered up his army to drive out the communists from neighboring Yemen, but the Saudis didn't take him seriously.
(on camera): What was your response when he said that he wanted to do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My response to him was that this is not the right time, and that military conflict in the south Yemen was not advisable at that time.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Later that year, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, bin Laden, once again, offered his troops to the Saudis.
AL-FAISAL: He asked other officials in the kingdom for the opportunity, again, to bring his Mujahedin, as he called them, to drive out Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and again, he was told that was not the right thing to do.
AMANPOUR: Instead, the Saudis turned to the West for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.
AMANPOUR: Reporter: The U.S. led a multinational coalition with hundreds of thousands of American troops, in the land of the two holiest places, Mecca and Medina. To bin Laden, it was sacrilege. He began to voice his outrage. When the Saudis tried to muzzle him, bin Laden fled the kingdom. A man without a country, a man on the run, a man racing to a point of no return, September 11, 2001.
AMANPOUR: Across from Saudi Arabia, across the Red Sea, lies the nation of Sudan. Its capital, Khartoum, an ancient African crossroad. It was here in the early 1990s that a radical Muslim government hell- bent on creating a pure Islamist state opened its doors to bin Laden and al Qaeda.
BERGEN: 1991, '92, bin Laden's a man without a country and he decides to go to Sudan, because there is a government which has recently come into power, which is sympathetic to his view and he believes that he can help create some kind of Islamic utopia.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): An Islamic utopia that bin Laden set out to build from this, his new home in Khartoum. Here, he quickly started an array of businesses. Bin Laden wasn't looking to foster the persona of an international terrorist.
SCOTT MACLEOD, CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME MAGAZINE": He wanted to show that he was a businessman, and he was a legitimate businessman.
My name is Scott Macleod. I met Osama bin Laden in Sudan in 1996.
It struck me that he was very calm, serene, almost like a holy man.
AMANPOUR: Though he'd been forced to flee Saudi Arabia for speaking out against the government, and U.S. troops in the Kingdom, in the early '90s, there were very few in U.S. law enforcement who knew of Osama bin Laden.
DAN COLEMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: At that point in time, particularly from the FBI, he hadn't attracted a great deal of attention.
AMANPOUR: That would change. At 12:18 p.m. on February 26th, 1993, the World Trade Center, an icon of American economic power, was attacked by a powerful truck bomb. The nation was in shock as it watched live coverage of the chaos around the twin towers. For years, Americans had watched news footage of the aftermath of terrorism abroad, but this was different. This was an attack on the homeland. The manhunts that followed would eventually lead to the arrests and convictions of two men with suspected links to bin Laden, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing. BERGEN: Bin Laden has denied knowing Ramzi Yousef but in the larger sense, bin Laden really was responsible because Ramzi Yousef had trained at an al Qaeda training camp and Ramzi Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would become the guy who went to bin Laden in 1996 with the beginnings of what would turn out to be the plan for 9/11 itself.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden may deny knowing Ramzi Yousef, but there is no denying the influence of Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Egyptian cleric who preached at this Jersey City mosque, across from the World Trade Center. Rahman, also known as the blind Sheikh, was the spiritual guide of the trade center bombers, and would ultimately become the theological force behind al Qaeda.
BERGEN: To the extent that there is a spiritual guide to al Qaeda, I think it's Sheikh Rahman, because he is the spiritual influence of the Egyptians in al Qaeda and the Egyptians are so important for the group ideologically and also personally.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden's relationship with the Egyptian militants surrounding him, in particular, Ayman al Zawahiri, intensified in Sudan. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi met with bin Laden a number of times during this period.
KHASHOGGI: I felt the presence of the Egyptian radicals. They were there, physically they were there. They would not sit with me. We were in his garden, sitting on the floor, talking, when somebody come and whispers something in his ear. I couldn't comprehend what they were saying but I picked up the Egyptians slang there. They were there.
AMANPOUR (on camera): And describe how he was changing them. And what he was doing.
KHASHOGGI: There was two Osamas in Sudan. At the beginning there was a radical on, an angry one, angry at his government, who was trying to play a political role, who was trying to push for change, revolutionary-type change in Saudi Arabia. A year later, particularly in 1995, I saw a more subdued Osama, who began to speak more moderately. He even regretted some of the statements he put out against his government, some radical positions he did, and he seemed to me as he wants to go back. But I think he had a fight within, between the way he was brought up as a moderate Muslim and the predicament he found himself in allied with radical Egyptians, and he couldn't choose.
AMANPOUR: He couldn't choose, says Khashoggi, so he let events choose for him. By 1995, the Saudi government had frozen bin Laden's assets, and stripped him of his citizenship. His family had publicly disowned him. Privately, however, there were attempts to bring him back into the fold.
Bin Laden let his true feelings be known in this, an open letter to King Fahd. In it, he condemned the Saudi Royal Family, calling them corrupt. He also called for a campaign of attacks to drive U.S. forces out of the Kingdom. Bin Laden's words were heard. Not long after his decree, a terrorist car bomb ripped through a joint U.S./Saudi military facility in Riyadh, killing five Americans.
AL-FAISAL: A car bomb exploded in front of the National Guard training center in Riyadh, and the perpetrators were captured, and they said that they had been inspired by bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: The Saudi Royal Family and the Clinton administration had seen enough. Both stepped up pressure on the Sudanese government to expel bin Laden, who by this time was out of money and knew his days were numbered in Khartoum. He'd already survived at least one assassination attempt by rival extremists.
ANAS: I was sitting in another guest house in Khartoum, when I heard after sunset that there is a clash, and the attack of the guest house of Osama, in order to kill him.
AMANPOUR: Under fire, and feeling the heat, Osama bin Laden and his followers take flight again. In May of 1996, bin Laden returns to where his holy war began, the troubled lands that would spawn the unthinkable.
BERGEN: We know that bin Laden is responsible for 9/11 but in the last five years the United States has not been able to catch him. The good news is, is that today, there's a better sense of where he might be.
AMANPOUR: The mountains of Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden would feel most at home, the place he came to when he was in trouble, safe behind these walls.
(on camera): By 1996, Osama bin Laden was a man on the run. Stripped of his Saudi citizenship and banished from Sudan, he came to this now destroyed compound in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It was from here that he would galvanize his followers by declaring war on America. He had a chilling message. And he delivered it to CNN in his first-ever television interview.
PETER ARNETT, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: My name is Peter Arnett. I met bin Laden as a CNN correspondent in Afghanistan in March 1997.
While bin Laden was not well known to the American public or to the world, within the news media, there was quite a lot of competition for that interview.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Spearheading CNN's effort was then producer Peter Bergen. He negotiated for months with bin Laden contacts in London.
BERGEN: And, then, we basically got the green light. About a month later, I got a call, saying the man in Kuwait wants to see you, which was the code for, go to Jalalabad, see bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: Driving from Pakistan through the Khyber Pass, the crew made its way to the small city of Jalalabad.
ARNETT: We drove to the Spinghar Hotel. It was a very old- fashioned 1930s hotel. Clearly, the hotel itself sort of had not any restoration work in years, but it was home for a week or so.
BERGEN: And we waited.
AMANPOUR: I met with Bergen at the Spinghar Hotel, where he told me about bin Laden's new and very savvy media campaign.
(on camera): To me, it sounds odd that he would have a media adviser. I mean, I know of Osama bin Laden as hiding in a cave, on the run, raw.
BERGEN: Well, you know, I think bin Laden's had a media strategy from the day he woke up, almost. I mean, he's -- he's keenly aware of it. He wants to get his message out. He decided that CNN was the -- the vehicle for his first television interview.
At a certain point, another media adviser came, a kind of guy with long hair, a younger guy, looked at all our camera equipment, and said 'you Can't use any of this.'
AMANPOUR: Peter Jouvenal, a British freelance photographer, joined the team.
PETER JOUVENAL, BRITISH FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER: I met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1997.
One day, an Arab came to my room, wanted to check out my camera. He seemed to be concerned that there might be some sort of tracking device or some sort of device that could harm Osama. So, they said that they would provide a camera for us to use.
BERGEN: After about five days, a van pulls up. It's dusk.
JOUVENAL: We all piled in the back, and then they gave us these sunglasses that had bits of cardboard cut out and stuck into the lenses, so we couldn't see them.
BERGEN: At a certain point, they slow down. They tell us, if you have a tracking device, now is the time to tell us. Otherwise, it's a problem. I took the problem to be, you know, execution.
JOUVENAL: Well, what they did is, they drove us around Jalalabad in circles, I think trying to disorientate us.
BERGEN: Then we started going to the mountains, change of vehicle into a four-wheel drive.
Finally, we arrive at a place where we're searched very professionally. They sweep us with a track -- with some kind of electronic thing I'd never seen before. But I took it to be, if you had a tracking device, they would find it.
ARNETT: We would move on for 20 or 30 minutes. Another group would stop us, just run in front of the car. And I thought, this was a very impressive display of security.
BERGEN: And they were very pleasant. And I wasn't concerned. I mean, they had invited us for an interview. I didn't -- this is long before journalists were being killed in this part of the world.
AMANPOUR: After a rocky climb, the crew set up on a mountaintop in a small hut.
JOUVENAL: And someone said that he's coming.
BERGEN: And, then, suddenly, out of the darkness, bin Laden appears.
ARNETT: More into the subject.
And he was carrying an AK-47. So, sitting there, looking up at this gigantic figure, was somewhat intimidating.
JOUVENAL: He gave a very limp handshake.
BERGEN: He came in. He was all business. You know, "Hello" -- no, no -- very little chit chat, sat down, and started the interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNETT: Mr. Bin Laden, you have declared a jihad against the United States. Can you tell us why?
BIN LADEN (through translator): We declared jihad on America because the U.S. government is unjust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERGEN: Basically, he was declaring war against the United States for the first time to Western reporters. That was the message.
ARNETT: He basically talked about, you know, removing American presence from the Middle East, specifically, from, say, Saudi Arabia. He didn't talk compromise.
Leave now while you have the chance. We destroyed the Russians, the Soviet Union. If you stay with us, you will -- if you stay around here, we will destroy you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNETT: What about U.S. civilians in Arabia or the people of the United States?
BIN LADEN (through translator): Although American civilians are not targets in our plans, they must leave. We cannot guarantee their safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Soon afterwards, bin Laden was gone. ARNETT: He appeared and disappeared. You know out of the blue, out of the night, he came into the hut, disappeared into the night. That's his style.
JOHN MILLER, FORMER ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: my name is John Miller. I met Osama bin Laden in May of 1998 in Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: A year after bin Laden met with CNN, ABC News correspondent John Miller was also given an interview. Bin Laden was using the media for both his message and his image.
MILLER: Bin Laden arrived in a motorcade of three SUVs. During this time, everybody shoots their guns up into the air, with tracer rounds and -- and machine-gun fire.
MILLER: As Dr. Zawahri said, when Mr. Bin Laden comes, there is always great celebration.
He had an AK-47, which he kind of gently propped up against a map of the world that had been taped up on the wall behind him. Again, I think very purposefully, to show that al Qaeda was a global organization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: The American people, by and large, don't know the name bin Laden. But they soon likely will. Do you have a message for the American people?
BIN LADEN (through translator): The greatest terrorist is America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: In the interview, he declared war on America. It sounded a -- a little hyperbolic. But I don't think we understood the depth of his plan or the creativity involved.
What he was doing was, he was foreshadowing a plan that was already in effect. The die was cast. He was just doing a little advance publicity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians. They are all targets.
AMANPOUR: Now, no one would be safe. Bin Laden was upping the ante in a way Americans would understand all too soon.
MILLER: He said, I predict a black day for the United States, after which the United States will never be the same.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Masked men -- al Qaeda -- under the cover of night -- final preparations.
Daybreak -- the main event -- a heavily guarded SUV suddenly arrives in the town of Khost, Afghanistan. Gunfire erupts everywhere. Osama bin Laden performs for the cameras. It's an explosive beginning to his first and only press conference, witnessed by Pakistani journalist Ismail Khan.
ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: All of the sudden, they were shooting and then boom, boom, rocket-propelled grenades, and firing. And, for once, I thought, we have come under attack or something."
AMANPOUR: May 26, 1998 -- this was bin Laden's videotaped call for war against America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): By God's grace, we have formed an organization with other Islamic groups and Islamic nations, a front called the Islamic Front.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In this press conference, bin Laden goes public with al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): The Jews and the Christians work together against Muslim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden had turned a corner with his declaration of war.
(on camera): No longer would he just attack the U.S. military or U.S. leaders. Now he was saying that the American people would be legitimate targets.
HAMID MIR, OSAMA BIN LADEN BIOGRAPHER: My name is Hamid Mir. And I met Osama bin Laden, first time, in Tora Bora mountains.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Journalist Hamid Mir is writing an authorized biography of bin Laden. He interviewed the al Qaeda leader three times during the 1990's.
AMANPOUR: How did he justify the killing of innocent Americans?
MIR: He said that, yes, the killing of innocent children and women is not permitted in Islam. But if they are killing our innocent children, if they are providing weapons to the Israelis and to the other anti-Muslim forces, to kill Muslims, then we have the right to respond back in the same manner.
AMANPOUR: While bin Laden believed he had a political justification for killing American civilians, he needed the trappings of clerical legitimacy. That would come in the form of a fatwa, a religious decree from Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind radical Egyptian cleric, the spiritual guide of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.
When the fatwa was handed out at bin Laden's press conference, Rahman was already imprisoned in the United States on terrorism charges.
BERGEN: Neither bin Laden, nor Ayman Al-Zawahri, his number two, are religious scholars. And they know that. And so, they needed this fatwa from Sheik Rahman to kind of give them clerical cover for this unprecedented thing, which was attacking American civilians.
AMANPOUR: This laminated card, with its Arabic script, outlined, with chilling accuracy, al Qaeda's terrifying new course.
It is seen here on television for the first time.
MIR: In that fatwa, it was written that, Kill Americans in the sea; kill Americans in the air; kill Americans everywhere.
AMANPOUR: Rahman's significance to al Qaeda is underscored by its fervent preoccupation with freeing the blind sheik from his American prison cell.
Osama bin Laden vowed as much in this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): We promise to work with all our power to free our brothers everywhere and in any prison, especially in America, like Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: There's even a training exercise aimed at springing Rahman, outlined in the Encyclopedia of Jihad, al Qaeda's massive guide on everything from guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics to how to recognize a rattlesnake or treat a scorpion sting.
BERGEN: Thousands and thousands of pages. It draws on many sources, including U.S. Army manuals, and is something that, other than the training camps, I think is the most important thing that al Qaeda gave to the global jihadist movement.
AMANPOUR: The encyclopedia, the years of recruiting, the training camps, al Qaeda's murderous new ideology, all of it culminating in this, Osama bin Laden's official and very public declaration of war on America and Americans. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): Whoever counts on God, God will grant him victory. And we are giving the good news that we will gain victory over America and the Jews, God willing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden had spoken. Once again, he had warned his enemy. But was anyone really listening? Did anyone take him seriously? Bin Laden was about to strike, and now had his own spy chasing the target...
ALI MOHAMMED, AL QAEDA OPERATIVE: My name is Ali Mohammed.
AMANPOUR: ... an agent who had spent years inside the U.S. military.
GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I think it was maybe 4:30 in the morning when my phone rang. A woman who was in our watch center said there have been detonations of explosive devices against two embassies in East Africa.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Two American embassies, two truck bombs, two terrorist attacks just nine minutes apart in neighboring countries along the coast, Kenya and Tanzania.
Gary Berntsen, a veteran CIA officer, rushed to headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
BERNTSEN: As we were having this meeting, CNN was being broadcast. And you had individuals walking around on the wreckage.
AMANPOUR: More than 200 dead, more than 4,000 injured. Who was behind this carnage, and why?
BERNTSEN: It was assumed right away that this was a Hezbollah attack.
AMANPOUR: Hezbollah because the militant group had attacked U.S. targets in the past. But the CIA was in for a surprise. Two investigative teams were dispatched to Africa. Berntsen led the search team in Tanzania.
BERNTSEN: We get there, faces torn off the building. It looks like a tornado has gone through and sucked every piece of furniture out of every room and into the hallways.
AMANPOUR: Within eight days, there were leads and suspects, and a stunning realization: Osama bin Laden had lived up to his threat. His al Qaeda terrorists had just struck their first direct blows in their holy war against the United States.
The attacks were carefully planned.
MOHAMMED: My name is Ali Mohammed.
AMANPOUR: This man, Ali Mohammed, was no ordinary al Qaeda operative. He married a Californian in 1985, and became an American citizen. He joined the U.S. Army, and eventually would help train U.S. special forces. He appears here on a military panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED: The fundamentalists, it means that the people, they try to establish an Islamic state based on the Islamic Sharia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In 1998, still serving in the U.S. Army, Ali Mohammed made an unauthorized trip to Afghanistan. He joined the war against the Russians being fought by Afghan militias and mujahedeen, like Osama bin Laden. Yet, the very next year, he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military.
BERGEN: Ali Mohammed is a really interesting character, sort of like a double agent. At the same time that he was a U.S. Army sergeant and actually working at special forces headquarters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was also intimately involved with al Qaeda, training bin Laden's bodyguards.
DANIEL COLEMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: Ali Mohammed had done what they call casing of the American Embassy in Nairobi in December of 1993, a five-year span between casing and operation.
AMANPOUR: And listen to what Ali Mohammed said in a U.S. court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "My surveillance files and photographs were reviewed by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American Embassy, and pointed to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber."
AMANPOUR: Nearly two weeks after the bombings the U.S. responded with force.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In Afghanistan, the U.S. target was bin Laden himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Our forces targeted one of the most active terrorist bases in the world.
We have reason to believe that a gathering of key terrorist leaders was to take place there today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the U.S. would miss its target.
Abu Jandal was one of bin Laden's bodyguards in Afghanistan. In a rare recorded interview with the "Al-Quds Al-Arabi" newspaper, he described how bin Laden escaped the U.S. attack in the town of Khost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABU JANDAL, FORMER CHIEF BIN LADEN BODYGUARD (through translator): I remember when we reached a crossroads between Khost and Kabul. Bin Laden looked at me and said: "Abu Jandal, what do you think? Where do you think we should go? To Khost or to Kabul?"
I said, "Let's go to Kabul to visit our comrades."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That chance decision saved bin Laden's life. At the time of the U.S. missiles attack, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the head of Saudi intelligence, was pressing Afghanistan's government for bin Laden's extradition.
AL-FAISAL: I went there in June '98. I spoke to Mullah Omar. Initially, he was amenable to the idea.
AMANPOUR: Mullah Omar was the leader of the Taliban, a totalitarian regime that was fighting to turn Afghanistan into an uncompromising Islamic state.
After the U.S. missile strikes, Prince Turki al-Faisal met with Mullah Omar a second time.
AL-FAISAL: I was sent back to Kandahar, to remind Mullah Omar of his promise. And this time, when I -- when I did that, Mullah Omar denied completely that he had made a promise.
VAHID MOJDEH, FORMER TALIBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WORKER (through translator): My name is Vahid Mojdeh. I met Osama bin Laden between 1984 and 1985 in Peshawar, during the jihad.
AMANPOUR: In the 1990s, Vahid Mojdeh worked in the Taliban's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I met him in Kabul, Afghanistan, for his first interview on Western television.
AMANPOUR (on camera): How did Osama bin Laden win the support and the backing of the Taliban leadership?
MOJDEH (through translator): Osama knew what the Taliban needed. For example, if they wanted Toyota pickup trucks, Osama would give them 10. Then, the Taliban would go back and tell Mullah Omar that it was Osama who was donating all these trucks. In this way, bin Laden made himself even closer to the Taliban.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): This is where, Mojdeh says, Osama bin Laden stayed when in Kabul.
But bin Laden did not stay in this house or any place for very long.
MOJDEH (through translator): Osama was constantly on the move. And he wouldn't talk on a telephone, because there was always the possibility of being targeted.
AMANPOUR: In fact, bin Laden was a target. In 1996, Michael Scheuer helped create the CIA's bin Laden unit, which pinpointed the al Qaeda leader's exact location on several occasions.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CHIEF OF CIA BIN LADEN UNIT: In fact, the first time we had an opportunity to capture bin Laden, everything was on track until they saw some swing set equipment in the farm where -- where bin Laden resided. And they said, oh, God. there's children. They thought, oh my God, we will get criticized if we do this.
AMANPOUR: So, they didn't. Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted, had escaped, and was free to continue his holy war against the United States.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks on the two U.S. embassies, this man, Abdal Rahim al-Nashiri, approached bin Laden with a new scheme. Two years of planning followed.
On October 7, 2000, in the Yemeni Port of Aden, two al Qaeda suicide bombers steered their small boat up to the USS Cole. Their bomb blew a gaping hole in the Navy destroyer, and killed 17 American sailors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: To those who attacked them, we say: You will not find a safe harbor. We will find you. And justice will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the U.S. did not retaliate.
And, four months after the bombing of the Cole, bin Laden praised his holy warriors at the wedding of his son in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): In Aden, the young men rose up for holy war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Even then, Osama bin Laden was already planning another attack, more sinister, more deadly than anyone ever imagined.
MALIKA EL AROUD, SAW OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Most Muslims love him, just like I love him myself. It was Osama bin Laden who stood up against the biggest enemy in the world, the United States.
AMANPOUR: Malika el Aroud loves Osama bin Laden for the same reasons that inspire his followers around the world, bin Laden's unquestioned piety, his choice of faith over fortune.
EL AROUD (through translator): He sets a very good example, because he's a man of great wealth who shared his money and knew to say, voila, here, this isn't mine.
AMANPOUR: Malika el Aroud, a devout Muslim who emigrated from Morocco as a child, was living in Belgium when she first saw Osama bin Laden on television. His image mesmerized her and her husband, Abdessater Dahmane.
EL AROUD (through translator): He was watching. There was a fascination, a love. It was very clear, and I felt the same. Osama had beauty in his face. It is a stunning face.
BIN LADEN: (speaking foreign language)
GRAPHIC: May God give victory to the young men who perform jihad to win His approval. May God give us patience.
EL AROUD (through translator): When you hear his voice, it makes you want to stand up right away and leave and join him.
AMANPOUR: And that's what her husband did when he traveled to Afghanistan in 2000. Malika El Aroud followed the next year. Life with bin Laden meant living without.
EL AROUD (through translator): There were windows without glass, just a big hole in the wall. And it was the middle of winter. There was no bathroom, no kitchen. We really thought we had gone back to the middle ages.
AMANPOUR: Her husband, who had spent six months in al Qaeda training camps, was given a secret deadly assignment, one that would move bin Laden closer to his ultimate goal.
EL AROUD (through translator): He told me he'd be home in 15 days.
AMANPOUR: That would be the last time she would ever see him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Baker Atyani. And I met with bin Laden on the 21st of June 2001, in Kandahar City, Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: In the summer of 2001, Baker Atyani was working for the Middle East Broadcasting Center in Pakistan when al Qaeda contacted him and made him an offer, an interview with bin Laden. Atyani was taken to Kandahar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to the bedroom (ph). Osama was there. He stand up, and he shook hands and he said welcome.
AMANPOUR: Also there, the Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
(on camera) What was your impression of Ayman al-Zawahiri?
BAKER ATYANI, EGYPTIAN: I don't believe that Ayman al-Zawahiri was under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. But the impression which I read I got from the meeting, that I have two leaders at the same place.
AMANPOUR: So they're equals?
ATYANI: It looks like they're equal, because everyone has their own point of view.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bin Laden told Atyani that he could not do the interview because his host, the Taliban, did not want him to make incendiary public statements. But bin Laden and Zawahiri did sit for this photo opportunity, and they had a message, another dire warning that bin Laden wanted broadcast to the world.
ATYANI: They said next few weeks will carry a big surprise. We will target American and Israeli installations. Now, Osama himself looked like he was very happy, and he smiled.
AMANPOUR (on camera): And what was your reaction to this?
ATYANI: Well, I think it was big news. I told my channel that his followers were telling me that the coffin business will increase in the states, the United States.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Once again, bin Laden had telegraphed his intentions to the world. The warning was broadcast a little more than two months before the attacks of 9/11.
And the warnings continued to mount. On August 6, unbeknownst to the American public, President George Bush received this highly classified memo, "bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."
In it, this paragraph: "FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
Then on September 9 in Afghanistan, a final hint that bin Laden was about to strike America. The assassination of Ahmad Shah Masoud, a friend of the U.S. and legendary leader of the Northern Alliance, a formidable Afghan militia.
BERGEN: Masoud was a brilliant military commander. He was fighting the Soviets very successfully during the '80s, somebody that both bin Laden and the Taliban saw as a threat to him, this charismatic, brilliant military commander. And in fact, he was the last obstacle that stood between the Taliban taking over the whole of Afghanistan, because he kept fighting them to the bitter end.
AMANPOUR: Two men claiming to be television reporters arranged an interview with Masoud. They were suicide bombers armed with explosives. One had them strapped to his body, the other hidden in the camera.
BERGEN: There's no doubt that bin Laden ordered the assassination of Masoud. He knew that the 9/11 attacks would likely provoke some kind of American reaction, and he needed the Taliban to protect him. So what he gave them was the one thing they desired most, which was Masoud's head on a plate.
AMANPOUR: The explosion killed Masoud. It also killed one of the two attackers, the cameraman. The other assassin was executed by Masoud's men. He was Abdessater Dahmane, Malika El Aroud's husband. This had been his secret mission, and she was very proud.
EL AROUD (through translator): Of course, it's a heroic act. It was a very courageous act. People came from far away to congratulate me, to hold me in their arms. It's extraordinary to be the widow of a martyr in Islam.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden himself covered her husband's debts.
EL AROUD (through translator): I received a payment. The person who gave me the envelope said that it was from Sheikh Osama.
AMANPOUR: Two al Qaeda agents had calmly taken their own lives to kill Ahmad Shah Masoud. And two days later, 19 other al Qaeda terrorists would carry out bin Laden's promise to America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
GRAPHIC: This is America filled with fear, from the north to south, and east to west.
AMANPOUR: September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden brings his bloody holy war to America, a plan hatched years before. Nineteen al Qaeda members, four hijacked planes, a suicide mission that killed some 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
GRAPHIC: We calculated in advance the number of enemy casualties. I was the most optimistic of them all.
AMANPOUR: Osama bin Laden had, once again, made good on his threats.
BERGEN: Bin Laden believes that he's doing God's will and that if he doesn't do what he's doing, that God will punish him. He generally believes that God is telling him what to do.
AMANPOUR: Two months after 9/11, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir interviewed Osama bin Laden near Kabul. It was the terrorist leader's only print interview since the attacks.
MIR: In that interview, his main objective was to convey a message that this is not the end of the war. This is just the beginning. He was saying it again and again.
AMANPOUR (on camera): How did he seem? Was he nervous? Was he anxious? Did he look like he was hunted?
MIR: He was not nervous. He was very confident, smiling.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Other 9/11 conspirators also sought out the media. Yosri Fouda, the London bureau chief for Al Jazeera television, was working on this documentary when an anonymous phone caller offered a stunning exclusive.
YOSRI FOUDA, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, AL JAZEERA: They wouldn't say exactly what this sort of exclusive stuff would be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Someone called me and said get on a plane and come to Karachi. I followed the orders I was given.
AMANPOUR: In Karachi, Fouda was blindfolded and driven to a building where his promised exclusive would be revealed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As I stood at the door step, I realized that the man opening the door was none other than Khalid Shaikh Mohamed.
FOUDA: Khalid Shaikh Mohamed introduced himself first as the head of the al Qaeda military committee, and then he introduced Ramzi Binalshibh as the coordinator of September 11.
AMANPOUR: How did Shaikh Mohamed, who studied engineering in a college in the United States, conceive the 9/11 attacks?
FOUDA: In the beginning they did consider attacking a couple of nuclear facilities. They said, "Well, we considered it in the beginning, but we decided not to do it for now."
AMANPOUR: Ramzi Binalshibh explained to Fouda that the targets were symbolic, that the World Trade Center symbolized American economic domination.
FOUDA: And the Pentagon would be the symbol of the military might in America, Capitol Hill, the symbol of democracy in America.
AMANPOUR: Khalid Shaikh Mohamed had approached Osama bin Laden back in 1996 with the idea of hijacking planes and slamming them into U.S. buildings. During the next five years of planning, bin Laden was involved in almost every detail. BERGEN: He selected who the lead hijackers were going to be. He selected the main targets. And while he allowed a certain amount of flexibility about the timing of the attacks, it was -- you know, he was calling the shots.
AMANPOUR: On October 7, the United States struck back with lightning success. Afghanistan was overrun in weeks.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military forces and the forces of our allies and many Afghans seeking a better future, are liberating Afghanistan.
BERGEN: Interestingly, there's been a lot of internal criticism within al Qaeda about the 9/11 attacks. This may be surprising, I think, to most people. But al Qaeda insiders were saying, you know, this was a tactical success but a strategic disaster. We lost our base in Afghanistan. The Taliban no longer exists, more or less. Our group has been very much damaged.
Bin Laden's son, Omar, left him. He basically said to his father, these attacks were dumb. They were stupid. We've got this 800-pound gorilla after us now. And in fact, "I'm going to leave." And he left Afghanistan and he went to Saudi Arabia, and he basically has washed his hands of his father.
AMANPOUR: On November 12, Kabul was overtaken by an Afghan militia allied with the United States. The Taliban were routed, and bin Laden ran to the one refuge he knew best, the Afghan mountains.
BERGEN: Bin Laden went to Tora Bora. And it's not surprising he did not. Tora Bora is very defensible. It's 10,000 feet up. It's a place he knew very well. He's, you know, been going in and out of that area for more than a decade.
AMANPOUR: One newspaper reporter was given a rare glimpse of bin Laden's mountain hideaway.
ABDEL BARI ATWAN, JOURNALIST: My name is Abdel Bari Atwan. I met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in Tora Bora in November 1996.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden allowed Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor in chief of the London based "Al-Quds al-Arabi", to shoot photographs.
ATWAN: He loved Tora Bora because he felt safe in Tora Bora.
The cave actually was divided into two rooms. The first room was something like a living room. You have beds and mats on the floor. And you have shelves of books, most of it theological books. He told me that he feels safe in these caves. He knows it is very difficult for anybody to come and follow him there.
AMANPOUR: But bin Laden was wrong. He was followed, tracked by U.S. intelligence and Afghan militias. They had Osama bin Laden in their crosshairs. He was cornered. Or so they thought.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AMANPOUR (voice-over): December 2001, a relentless bombing campaign. Air strikes thundered through the treacherous mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The battle of Tora Bora had begun. Osama bin Laden, the jackal of 9/11, and hundreds of al Qaeda fighters had finally been cornered, or so it seemed.
BERNTSEN: We brought in Spectre gunships which can put a bullet on every inch of a football field.
AMANPOUR: Gary Berntsen was the leader of the secret CIA paramilitary unit that had pursued bin Laden since he had fled Kabul. And now the CIA was sure it knew where he was, thanks in large part to a radio taken off a dead al Qaeda fighters.
BERNTSEN: We listened to bin Laden for several days using that radio, listened to his communications among him and his men. We listened to him apologize to them for having led them into this trap and having led them into a location where they would be having airstrikes called on them just relentlessly.
AMANPOUR: More than two weeks of bombing, solid intelligence, the U.S. had thrown its biggest bombs, its most sophisticated missiles, bunker busters, daisy cutters, at bin Laden, but somehow, some way, it wasn't enough.
BERGEN: The policy of using very limited number of U.S. Special Forces on the ground calling in airstrikes and a large number of Afghan ground troops worked brilliantly at overthrowing the Taliban, but at the battle of Tora Bora, it was a total disaster.
AMANPOUR (on camera): The plan was for Afghan and Pakistani soldiers to block any escape routes, but Osama bin Laden managed to slip away through the mountains. And the mission to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader failed. By most accounts, the main problem was not enough American soldiers on the ground.
BERGEN: By my calculation, there were more American journalists than American soldiers at the battle of Tora Bora, and that fact kind of speaks for itself.
BERNTSEN: In the first two or three days of December, I would write a message back to Washington, recommending the insertion of U.S. forces on the ground. I was looking for 600 to 800 Rangers, roughly a battalion. They never came.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also hunting bin Laden in Tora Bora, then Afghan militia leader, General Mohamed Zahir (ph).
(on camera) Do you have any idea how many American soldiers were at the battle of Tora Bora?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was not more than 50, 60, I think. There was not more than that at that time.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Osama bin Laden, looking frail and much older than his 44 years after the massive onslaught of Tora Bora, had escaped again.
Ever the media-conscious terrorist, bin Laden today continues to deliver his message on video and audiotapes. His words and threats are vitriolic rants to most Americans. But to those who know him and hunt him, bin Laden's missives carry great meaning and ominous revelations.
SCHEUER: I think part of the reason that there hasn't been an attack since 9/11 is he was criticized among his peers for the attack of 9/11.
AMANPOUR: Criticized by fellow extremists for not following, as they see it, the guidance of the holy prophet Mohamed for attacking an enemy.
SCHEUER: So he's spent the last four years very much addressing those issues with his audience. From the Muslim perspective, the prophet always demanded that before you attack someone you warn them and you offer them a chance to convert to Islam.
AMANPOUR: And that's exactly what bin Laden later did.
BIN LADEN: (speaking foreign languages)
GRAPHIC: I'm calling you to the path of happiness on Earth. To rescue you I'm calling on you to follow Islam.
SCHEUER: Bin Laden on three occasions, Zawahiri on two occasions, have offered to be our guides in a conversion to Islam, saying that everything is forgiven if you convert.
AMANPOUR: Scheuer says bin Laden also believed he's fulfilled the prophet's last requirement for launching another, even more massive attack, a religious blessing to kill millions of Americans with weapons of mass destruction.
SCHEUER: A judgment from a young cleric in Saudi Arabia which authorizes the Mujahideen, written large, to use nuclear weapons against the United States with -- with capping the casualties at 10 million.
AMANPOUR (on camera): He's had an approval, a religious approval for 10 million deaths?
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Even on the run, bin Laden remains the most powerful force in militant Islam. His influence, all too apparent in the deadly bombings in Madrid in 2004, in London in 2005 and in the ongoing bloodshed unleashed by al Qaeda in Iraq.
But what if bin Laden were eliminated? What then?
BERGEN: In the longer time I think it would give a tremendous boost to the power of bin Laden's ideas, because this idea of martyrdom is such a popular one. I think it would increase that mythical persona.
AMANPOUR: Today bin Laden's whereabouts remain a mystery. But many believe the 49-year-old terrorist is hiding somewhere in the rugged and mountainous border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
BERGEN: U.S. intelligence sources tell me now he's way up north, almost up to the border with China on the Afghan-Pakistan border in an area called Chitral. Remote, inaccessible. The problem is, is that U.S. military forces can't go into Pakistan. The Pakistan government won't allow that.
AMANPOUR: Bin Laden has long vowed that he will never be captured alive.
Abu Jandal was once Osama's chief bodyguard. In a rare recorded interview with an Arabic newspaper, Jandal recounts bin Laden's strict orders.
JANDAL (through translator): Sheikh Osama gave me a pistol to use in case I was about to fall into enemy hands. The pistol had just two bullets in order to kill him so that he would never be taken alive.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Dead or alive, what will the future of Osama bin Laden's jihad look like?
Those who know him believe that his holy war and the violence its ignited will continue long after he's gone. And all over the world people are wondering where he will strike next.
Bin Laden himself is already writing the next chapter. He wants his own children to carry on the fight.
(voice-over) Since 9/11, bin Laden has become a father again to a daughter he named Saphia (ph), after a woman famous for killing a Jewish spy.
MIR: He told me that when my daughter will grow, she will also kill the enemies of Islam.
AMANPOUR: From one generation to the next, a legacy of terror. For Osama bin Laden, his holy war is far, far from over.
BERGEN: I think bin Laden has been successful in creating a thousand other bin Ladens, which we will be dealing with for at least a generation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... trusted against my people all over the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have witnessed now is only the beginning.
BIN LADEN: (speaking foreign language)
GRAPHIC: You the American people, I talk to you today about the best way to avoid another Manhattan. I want to talk about war and its causes and its consequences. I tell you security is an important element in life. As you spoil our security, we will spoil yours.
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