My Conversation with bin Laden
By: Leigh Patrick Sullivan
It began with an anonymous message, a note delivered by someone unknown. Several weeks and emails confirmed the authenticity. Now, here I was in the back of a beat-up car, blind-folded with a black fabric hood over my head, dust filling my lungs as we speed down the bumpy, mountainous back roads of the Afghanistan â€“ Pakistan border. I was about to meet the most wanted man on Earth. I had been summoned by Usama bin Laden.
I got out of the vehicle and was led through a narrow opening into a cave. The men sat me down and removed the hood and blindfold. My first sight revealed artificial lighting, a handful of cell phones in an open bag to my left, and a Qâ€™aran. Two hulking men wearing robes, scarves covering their faces save the eyes, stood guard at the exit, armed with AK-47s.
About 20 minutes of sitting in silence came to a sudden end with the sound of commotion outside. The guards shouted â€˜Allah Akbarâ€™ as one man, then another, came into the cave. The third and last to appear was none other than bin Laden himself. Moving slow and looking older and more weathered than I had imagined, he took a seat across from me. After introductions and many minutes of talking amongst themselves, the room cleared and it was just the three of us left: Me, Usama, and an interpreter. After they conducted a short prayer and reading from the Qâ€™aran, we began.
bin Laden: (in a very soft-spoken voice) Thank you for coming all this way to meet with me.
Leigh: Thank you for asking me to be here. When I heard that you had something to say to the Western world, I was intrigued.
bin Laden: Well, itâ€™s been awhile since I made a statement, so I thought it was about time.
Leigh: Usually you send a tape over the internet or through your contacts at al-Jazeera. What made you decide to do things differently this time?
bin Laden: Ratings. My messages just havenâ€™t been grabbing the attention of either the Muslim youth or foreign governments anymore. People are more concerned with the price of oil or the environment than they are about my group. The more the great success of New York is forgotten by the American people, the less I am feared.
Leigh: So, you believe that the lessons of 9/11 have been lost byâ€¦.
bin Laden: (laughing) Lost? How about never learned? This is what I was counting on. The plan is working perfectly.
Leigh: But, wasnâ€™t 9/11 a lesson you wanted to teach America?
bin Laden: The purpose wasnâ€™t to awaken some great American bear. It was to put the American people to sleep, to plant the seeds of apathy. Success! Praise Allah!
Leigh: With all due respect, taking into account the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the global effort to stem the tide of financial support for al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, hasnâ€™t the Western world in fact awakened to fight your terror war?
bin Laden: (again laughing) And look what the results have been. Whether our warriors become martyrs because of American bombs or suicide attacks, we are willing to die for our cause. Our real victory â€“ like I have always said â€“ has begun within American borders. Their â€˜war on terrorâ€™ has caused a rift in the American public not seen in decades, their media has what they have always done historically and sided with the enemy, other nations are standing up and speaking out against the United States like never before, popular actors and singers are telling their fans that (chuckles softly) negotiation with me is possible, and a president who is trying to save his country and fight us is shunned.
Leigh: Other nations have joined the fight.
bin Laden: Very true. Not all news is good news. Canada has surprised me by sending its military into battle. I forgot they even had soldiers! I will admit, those infidels are smart warriors. Even France and Germany, to an extent, have become more willing to engage us in the Holy War.
Leigh: The fact that other nations are willing to stand with the United States in this war must annoy you a bit.
bin Laden: Just my luck â€“ Canada gets a leader withâ€¦how do you say, balls? â€“ when a war breaks out. (snickers out loud) But, knowing those folks, theyâ€™ll vote him out soon. No, we look at places like Australia to boost our confidence. They look like pacifists with their new P.M.
Leigh: There hasnâ€™t been an attack in a long time. Is that what you want to announce today?
bin Laden: Actually, I find we donâ€™t really need to. Not just yet, anyways. The focus has now changed for us. Our success is in the Americans themselves, which brings me to my reason for asking you here today.
Leigh: Good. After so long without a message from you, we are interested in what you have to say to us.
bin Laden: America is ready to flee Iraq and leave her to her rightful Islamic owners. America is starting to not remember or care about 9/11. The American people are broken and disinterested in defending herself, and now, Praise Allah, they are ready to announce their defeat by putting a Muslim in the White House.
(Exhales deeply, leans back against the cave wall with an expression of absolute joy, smiles and says proudly:)
bin Laden: Mission accomplished!
The Moderate Separatist
The Moderate Separatist