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CNN Live Event/Special

In the Footsteps of Bin Laden, Part II

Aired August 17, 2007 - 20:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last night, "In the Footsteps of bin Laden," we learned about Osama, from his birth in 1957, to his creation of al Qaeda in the late 1980s.

We traveled in his footsteps from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Afghanistan. We met those who actually know him, his childhood friend.


AMANPOUR: His brother-in-law, and men who fought beside him in Afghanistan.

HUTAIFA AZZAM, PALESTINIAN CLERIC: When bin Laden used to hear the explosions, he used to -- to jump. Then he used to run away. And...

AMANPOUR: Tonight: the rest of bin Laden's story.

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.


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.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: 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: And 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.

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.


ARNETT: Mr. Bin Laden, you have declared a jihad against the United States. Can you tell us why?

OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): We declared jihad on America because the U.S. government is unjust.


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.


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.


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: 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.


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.


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.

May 26, 1998 -- this was bin Laden's videotaped call for war against America.


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.


AMANPOUR: In this press conference, bin Laden goes public with al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States.


BIN LADEN (through translator): The Jews and the Christians work together against Muslims.


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 1990s.

(on camera): 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.

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 -- 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.


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.


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...


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?

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.


MOHAMMED: The fundamentalists, it means that the people, they try to establish an Islamic state based on the Islamic Sharia.


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.

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.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan.


AMANPOUR: In Afghanistan, the U.S. target was bin Laden himself.


CLINTON: Our forces targeted one of the most active terrorist bases in the world.


AMANPOUR: But the U.S. would miss its target.

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.

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.


CLINTON: To those who attacked them, we say: You will not find a safe harbor, we will find you, and justice will prevail.


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.


BIN LADEN (through translator): In Aden, the young men rose up for holy war.


AMANPOUR: Even then, Osama bin Laden was already planning another attack.

In this video, bin Laden is seen with al Qaeda lieutenants Mohamed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh. It is a key gathering, preparations, it's believed, for an attack more sinister, more deadly than anyone ever imagined.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I'm Zain Verjee. "In the Footsteps of bin Laden" continues in just a moment. First, Hurricane Dean is roaring through the Caribbean. Chad Myers is at the CNN Weather Center -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Zain, it is now a Category 4, 135 mile-per-hour storm. And it actually increased in intensity sooner than the Hurricane Center thought. Now, as a Cat 4 and it will continue to be a Category 4 as it rolls toward Jamaica. It will eventually get into the Gulf of Mexico and be a very dangerous storm for the U.S., also, even Cancun possibly at 150 miles-per-hour. We'll watch the cone all the way from Cuba down to Nicaragua -- Zain.

VERJEE: Chad Myers, thank you. Make sure you stay with CNN for the latest on Hurricane Dean. "In the Footsteps of bin Laden" continues now.


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): 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. BAKER ATYANI, MET BIN LADEN: 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.

ATYANI: And I when I enter that room, Osama was there. He stand up, and he shook hand and he said, "welcome."

AMANPOUR: Also there, the Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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.

ATYANI: And they said next few weeks will carry a big surprise. We will target American and Israeli installations. His followers were telling me that the coffin business will increase in the states, the United States.

AMANPOUR: 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): This is America filled with fear, from the north to south, and east to west. Thank you God.

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): 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.

HAMID MIR, BIN LADEN BIOGRAPHER: 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.

(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.

FOUDA (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.

In the beginning they did consider targeting a couple of nuclear facilities. They said, "Well, we considered it in the beginning, but we decided not to do it for now."

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.

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 told me that he feels safe in this 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.


AMANPOUR: 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.

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: 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): 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.

MICHAEL SCHEUER, FMR HEAD CIA "GIN LADEN" UNIT: 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): 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.

Today bin Laden's whereabouts remain a mystery. But many believe the terror mastermind is hiding somewhere in the rugged 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.

ABU JANDAL, FMR BIN LADEN CHIEF BODYGUARD (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 it's 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shall continue to target you at home and abroad, just as you target us at home and abroad.

BIN LADEN (speaking foreign language): 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)