Transcript of Bin Laden's October interview
(CNN) -- The following interview between Al-Jazeera television correspondent Tayseer Alouni and Osama Bin Laden took place in October 2001. The following transcript of the interview, which was done in Arabic, is by a translator hired by CNN.
TAYSEER ALOUNI: Dear viewers, welcome to this much-anticipated interview with the leader of the al Qaeda organization, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.
Sheikh, the question that's on the mind of many people around the world: America claims that it has convincing evidence of your collusion in the events in New York and Washington. What's your answer?
OSAMA BIN LADEN: America has made many accusations against us and many other Muslims around the world. Its charge that we are carrying out acts of terrorism is an unwarranted description.
We never heard in our lives a court decision to convict someone based on a "secret" proof it has. The logical thing to do is to present a proof to a court of law. What many leaders have said so far is that America has an indication only, and not a tangible proof. They describe those brave guys who took the battle to the heart of America and destroyed its most famous economic and military landmarks.
They did this, as we understand it, and this is something we have agitated for before, as a matter of self-defense, in defense of our brothers and sons in Palestine, and to liberate our sacred religious sites/things. If inciting people to do that is terrorism, and if killing those who kill our sons is terrorism, then let history be witness that we are terrorists.
Q: Sheikh, those who follow your statements and speeches may link your threats to what happened in America. To quote one of your latest statements: "I swear that America won't enjoy security before we live it for real in Palestine." It is easy for anyone following developments to link the acts to your threats.
BIN LADEN: It is easy to link them.
We have agitated for this for years and we have issued statements and fatwas to that effect. This appeared in the investigations into the four young men who destroyed the American center in Ulayya in Riyadh, as disclosed and published by the Saudi government. The [Saudis] reported that they were influenced by some of the fatwas and statements that we issued. Also, apart from that, incitement continues in many meetings and has been published in the media. If they mean, or if you mean, that there is a link as a result of our incitement, then it is true. We incite because incitement is our [unintelligible] today. God assigned incitement to the best of all mankind, Mohammed, who said, "Fight for the sake of God. Assign this to no one but yourself, and incite the faithful."
[Bin Laden recites verses from the Quran.]
This is a true response. We have incited battle against Americans and Jews. This is true.
Q: Al Qaeda is facing now a country that leads the world militarily, politically, technologically. Surely, the al Qaeda organization does not have the economic means that the United States has. How can al Qaeda defeat America militarily?
BIN LADEN: This battle is not between al Qaeda and the U.S. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders. In the past when al Qaeda fought with the mujahedeen, we were told, "Wow, can you defeat the Soviet Union?" The Soviet Union scared the whole world then. NATO used to tremble of fear of the Soviet Union. Where is that power now? We barely remember it. It broke down into many small states and Russia remained.
God, who provided us with his support and kept us steadfast until the Soviet Union was defeated, is able to provide us once more with his support to defeat America on the same land and with the same people. We believe that the defeat of America is possible, with the help of God, and is even easier for us, God permitting, than the defeat of the Soviet Union was before.
Q: How can you explain that?
BIN LADEN: We experienced the Americans through our brothers who went into combat against them in Somalia, for example. We found they had no power worthy of mention. There was a huge aura over America -- the United States -- that terrified people even before they entered combat. Our brothers who were here in Afghanistan tested them, and together with some of the mujahedeen in Somalia, God granted them victory. America exited dragging its tails in failure, defeat, and ruin, caring for nothing.
America left faster than anyone expected. It forgot all that tremendous media fanfare about the new world order, that it is the master of that order, and that it does whatever it wants. It forgot all of these propositions, gathered up its army, and withdrew in defeat, thanks be to God. We experienced combat against the Russians for 10 years, from 1979 to 1989, thanks be to God. Then we continued against the communists in Afghanistan. Today, we're at the end of our second week. There is no comparison between the two battles, between this group and that. We pray to God to give us his support and to make America ever more reluctant. God is capable of that.
Q: You said you want to defeat America on this land. Don't you think that the presence of al Qaeda on Afghanistan soil is costing the Afghan people a high price?
BIN LADEN: This is a partial point of view. When we came to Afghanistan to support the mujahedeen in 1979, against the Russians, the Saudi government asked me officially not to enter Afghanistan due to how close my family is to the Saudi leadership. They ordered me to stay in Peshawar, because in the event the Russians arrested me that will be a proof of our support of the mujahedeen against the Soviet Union. At that time, the whole world was scared of the Soviet Union. I didn't obey their order. They thought my entry into Afghanistan was damning to them. I didn't listen to them and I went into Afghanistan for the first time.
We sacrificed a lot in order to keep the Muslim faith alive and save the children. This is a duty for every Muslim, in general, not the Afghans especially. If I run to the rescue of my brothers in Palestine, it doesn't mean it's Osama's duty alone. This is a duty of all Muslims. The jihad is a duty for everyone, not just for the Afghans. The Afghans are suffering, that's true, but this is their Islamic duty. As far as the bombing of Afghanistan, this is not a personal vendetta. America didn't take my money or hurt me in any way. The bombing is a direct effect of our inciting against the Jews and the Americans.
America is against the establishment of any Islamic government. The prophet has said, "They will be target because of their religion." Not because Osama bin Laden is there. When I came here the first time it was because of a desire to revive the Muslim spirit and an attempt at rescuing the children and the powerless. The British attacked Afghanistan before Osama bin Laden was here, Russians came here before me and now the Americans. We pray that god will defeat them just like he did their allies before them. We ask God to give us the power to defeat them as we did others before.
Q: Let's get back to what happened in New York and Washington. What is your assessment of the attacks on America? What's their effect on America and the Muslim world?
BIN LADEN: The events of Tuesday, September the 11th, in New York and Washington are great on all levels. Their repercussions are not over. Although the collapse of the twin towers is huge, but the events that followed, and I'm not just talking about the economic repercussions, those are continuing, the events that followed are dangerous and more enormous than the collapse of the towers.
The values of this Western civilization under the leadership of America have been destroyed. Those awesome symbolic towers that speak of liberty, human rights, and humanity have been destroyed. They have gone up in smoke.
The proof came when the U.S. government pressured the media not to run our statements that are not longer than very few minutes. They felt that the truth started to reach the American people, the truth that we are not terrorists as they understand it but because we are being attacked in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Kashmir, the Philippines and everywhere else. They understood the truth that this is a reaction from the youth of the Muslim nation against the British government. They forgot all about fair and objective reporting and reporting the other side of the issue. I tell you freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people and the West in general will enter an unbearable hell and a choking life because the Western leadership acts under the Zionist lobby's influence for the purpose of serving Israel, which kills our sons unlawfully in order for them to remain in their leadership positions.
Q: What is your assessment of the Arabic reaction and the effects on the Islamic world? Some were joyous. Others said, "We can't accept this. This is terrorism, not Islam."
BIN LADEN: The events proved the extent of terrorism that America exercises in the world. Bush stated that the world has to be divided in two: Bush and his supporters, and any country that doesn't get into the global crusade is with the terrorists. What terrorism is clearer than this? Many governments were forced to support this "new terrorism." They had to go along with this although they knew that we are defending our brothers and defending our sacred values. Many Western and Eastern leaders have said that the true roots of terrorism should be dealt with; they meant the Palestinian cause. Then we have a righteous cause, but they couldn't admit this out loud of fear of America. They say we are terrorists but solve the Palestinian cause. All of a sudden, Bush and Blair declared, "The time has come to establish an independent state for Palestine." Throughout the past years the time hasn't come, until after these attacks, for the establishment of the Palestinian state. They only understand the language of attacks and killings.
Just as they're killing us, we have to kill them so that there will be a balance of terror. This is the first time the balance of terror has been close between the two parties, between Muslims and Americans, in the modern age. American politicians used to do whatever they wanted with us. The victim was forbidden to scream or to moan. [unintelligible]
Clinton has said, "Israel has the right to defend itself," after the massacres of Qana. He didn't even reprimand Israel. When the new President Bush and Colin Powell declared in the first few months of their taking office that they will move the American embassy to Jerusalem. They said Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of Israel. They got a standing ovation in Congress and the Senate. This is the biggest bigotry, and this is tyranny loud and clear.
The battle has moved to inside America. We will work to continue this battle, God permitting, until victory or until we meet God before that occurs.
Q: Sheikh, I see that most of your answers are about Palestine and the Palestinian cause. In the beginning, your focus on killing the unfaithful and the Jews ... and you specified then that the Americans should be sent out of the Arabian Peninsula. Now you're turning your attention to Palestine first and the Arabian Peninsula second. What's your comment?
BIN LADEN: Jihad is a duty to liberate Al-Aqsa, and to help the powerless in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon and in every Muslim country. There is no doubt that the liberation of the Arabian Peninsula from infidels is a duty as well. But it is not right to say that Osama put the Palestinian issue first. I have given speeches in which I encourage Muslims to boycott America economically. I said Americans take our money and give it to Israel to kill our children in Palestine. I established a front a few years ago named The Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders. Sometimes we find the right elements to push for one cause more than the other. Last year's blessed intifada helped us to push more for the Palestinian issue. This push helps the other cause. Attacking America helps the cause of Palestine and vice versa. No conflict between the two; on the contrary, one serves the other.
Q: Sheikh, now let's talk about Christians and Jews. You issued a fatwa for jihad against the Christians and the Jews. As we can see, some other clerics also issued fatwas. There might be some who share your views, and some who oppose them and said this is against the teachings of Islam They ask how can you kill a Jew or a Christian or a Catholic just because of his religion? They say that your statements contradict what Muslim clerics teach.
BIN LADEN: God bless Allah, many fatwas have been declared on these issues, especially in Pakistan. Sami Zai in Pakistan is a very well known authority on this. He has written many times on the subject. So did the famous Abdullah bin Ohkmah Al-Shehebi of Saudi Arabia. I read a book titled "The Truth About The New Crusades." They all wrote about and allowed the fighting of Americans and Israelis in Palestine and allowing their killings and destroying their economies and properties.
Q [interrupting]: How about the killing of innocent civilians?
BIN LADEN: The killing of innocent civilians, as America and some intellectuals claim, is really very strange talk. Who said that our children and civilians are not innocent and that shedding their blood is justified? That it is lesser in degree? When we kill their innocents, the entire world from east to west screams at us, and America rallies its allies, agents, and the sons of its agents. Who said that our blood is not blood, but theirs is? Who made this pronouncement? Who has been getting killed in our countries for decades? More than 1 million children, more than 1 million children died in Iraq and others are still dying. Why do we not hear someone screaming or condemning, or even someone's words of consolation or condolence?
How come millions of Muslims are being killed? Where are the experts, the writers, the scholars and the freedom fighters, where are the ones who have an ounce a faith in them? They react only if we kill American civilians, and every day we are being killed, children are being killed in Palestine. We should review the books. Human nature makes people stand with the powerful without noticing it. When they talk about us, they know we won't respond to them. In the past, an Arab king once killed an ordinary Arab man. The people started wondering how come kings have the right to kill people just like that. Then the victim's brother went and killed the king in revenge. People were disappointed with the young man and asked him, "How could you kill a king for your brother?" The man said, "My brother is my king." We consider all our children in Palestine to be kings.
We kill the kings of the infidels, kings of the crusaders, and civilian infidels in exchange for those of our children they kill. This is permissible in law and intellectually.
Q: So what you are saying is that this is a type of reciprocal treatment. They kill our innocents, so we kill their innocents.
BIN LADEN: So we kill their innocents, and I say it is permissible in law and intellectually, because those who spoke on this matter spoke from a juridical perspective.
Q: What is their position?
BIN LADEN: That it is not permissible. They spoke of evidence that the Messenger of God forbade the killing of women and children. This is true.
[Break in tape.]
Q: This is exactly what I'm asking about.
BIN LADEN: However, this prohibition of the killing of children and innocents is not absolute. It is not absolute. There are other texts that restrict it.
I agree that the Prophet Mohammed forbade the killing of babies and women. That is true, but this is not absolute. There is a saying, "If the infidels killed women and children on purpose, we shouldn't shy way from treating them in the same way to stop them from doing it again." The men that God helped [attack, on September 11] did not intend to kill babies; they intended to destroy the strongest military power in the world, to attack the Pentagon that houses more than 64,000 employees, a military center that houses the strength and the military intelligence.
Q: How about the twin towers?
BIN LADEN: The towers are an economic power and not a children's school. Those that were there are men that supported the biggest economic power in the world. They have to review their books. We will do as they do. If they kill our women and our innocent people, we will kill their women and their innocent people until they stop.
Q: Media organizations as well as intelligence information says that you run a big network in some 40 to 50 countries. There is information that al Qaeda is very influential and powerful and it is behind attacks and Islamic foundations and terrorist organizations. How much is al Qaeda dependent on Osama Bin Laden?
BIN LADEN: This has nothing to do with this poor servant of God, nor with the al Qaeda organization. We are the children of an Islamic nation whose leader is Mohammed.
We have one religion, one God, one book, one prophet, one nation. Our book teaches us to be brothers of a faith. All the Muslims are brothers. The name "al Qaeda" was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahedeen against Russia's terrorism. We used to call the training camp al Qaeda [meaning "the base" in English]. And the name stayed. We speak about the conscience of the nation; we are the sons of the nation. We brothers in Islam from the Middle East, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and as far as Mauritania.
Those men who sacrificed themselves in New York and Washington, they are the spokesmen of the nation's conscience. They are the nation's conscience that saw they have to avenge against the oppression.
Not all terrorism is cursed; some terrorism is blessed. A thief, a criminal, for example feels terrorized by the police. So, do we say to the policeman, "You are a terrorist"? No. Police terrorism against criminals is a blessed terrorism because it will prevent the criminal from repeating his deed. America and Israel exercise the condemned terrorism. We practice the good terrorism which stops them from killing our children in Palestine and elsewhere.
Q: What's al Qaeda's strategic plan in the Arab world. Some countries had commented about what's going on while others supported the Americans in their position toward you. The Saudi interior minister warned people against you, and against what you say, and against what you do and the path you follow. What's your reaction to his statement?
BIN LADEN: We are a part of that nation. We work hard to lift it out of oppression, and to stop those who want to manipulate its book and its God. I heard some of what the Saudi interior minister said when he said that we are turning Muslims to atheists, God forbid. Our goal is for our nation to unite in the face of the Christian crusade. This is the fiercest battle. Muslims have never faced anything bigger than this. Bush said it in his own words: "crusade." When Bush says that, they try to cover up for him, then he said he didn't mean it. He said "crusade." Bush divided the world into two: "either with us or with terrorism." Bush is the leader; he carries the big cross and walks. I swear that every one who follows Bush in his scheme has given up Islam and the word of the prophet. This is very clear. The prophet has said, "Believers don't follow Jews or Christians." Our wise people have said that those who follow the unfaithful have become unfaithful themselves. Those who follow Bush in his crusade against Muslims have denounced God.
[Bin Laden recites verses from the Quran on same subject.]
Those who support Bush, even with one word, have fallen.
Q: Even with one word: You are putting a big group of Muslims in the circle.
BIN LADEN: Know the truth and its roots. The book of God is our guide. Either Islam or atheism.
Q: Can small countries like Qatar, or Bahrain or Kuwait, which don't have much control, be excused? The Qatari foreign minister said, "I am surrounded by superpowers that will very easily wipe me off the map. That's why I have to ally myself with Americans and others."
BIN LADEN: In the subject of Islam and the killing of the faithful, what those people are doing cannot be excused. If the emir of Qatar orders someone to kill your child, and you ask this person why he did it, he'll say, "Look, brother Tayseer, I like you very much, but I was forced to do it." Nothing will excuse him for aiding the tyrant to kill your child. Your child's blood goes to waste like this. They claim that they don't have much control. Their claim that they were forced into it is not considered righteous in Islam. People's blood is being wasted in this case.
Q: What do you think of the so-called "war of civilizations"? You always keep repeating "crusaders" and words like that all the time. Does that mean you support the war of civilizations?
BIN LADEN: No doubt about that: The book mentions this clearly. The Jews and the Americans made up this call for peace in the world. The peace they're calling for is a big fairy tale. They're just drugging the Muslims as they lead them to slaughter. And the slaughter is still going on. If we defend ourselves, they call us terrorists. The prophet has said, "The end won't come before the Muslims and the Jews fight each other till the Jew hides between a tree and a stone. Then the tree and stone say, "Oh, you Muslim, this is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him." He who claims there will be a lasting peace between us and the Jews is an infidel. He'll be denouncing the book and what's in it. Begin, the leader of the massacre of Kfar Yassin, and the traitor, Anwar Sadat, who sold the land and the blood of the mujahedeen both were given the Nobel Peace Prize. There will come some deceiving times where the liars will be believed and the truthful won't be believed. That's the situation in the Arabic world with its great leadership. They are lying to people. But god's relief and victory is coming soon.
Q: As you call it, this is a war between the crusaders and Muslims. How do you see the way out of this crisis?
BIN LADEN: We are in a decisive battle with the Jews and those who support them from the crusaders and the Zionists. We won't hesitate to kill the Israelis who occupied our land and kill our children and women day and night. And every person who will side with them should blame themselves only. Now how we will get out of the tunnel, that is the [unintelligible] of the other side. We were attacked, and our duty is to remove this attack. As far as the Jews are concerned, the prophet has announced that we will fight them under this name, on this land. America forced itself and its people in this [unintelligible] more than 53 years ago. It recognized Israel and supported its creation financially. In 1973, under Nixon, it supported Israel with men, weapons and ammunition from Washington all the way to Tel Aviv. This support helped change the course of history. It is the Muslim's duty to fight. ...
[America] made hilarious claims. They said that Osama's messages have codes in them to the terrorists. It's as if we were living in the time of mail by carrier pigeon, when there are no phones, no travelers, no Internet, no regular mail, no express mail, and no electronic mail. I mean, these are very humorous things. They discount people's intellects.
We swore that America wouldn't live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel's interest above its own people's interest. America won't get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian Peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel. This equation can be understood by any American child, but Bush, because he's an Israeli agent, cannot understand this equation unless the swords threatened him above him head.
Q: Do you have anything to do with anthrax that is spreading around the world?
BIN LADEN: These diseases are a punishment from God and a response to oppressed mothers' prayers in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. There is no wall between the prayer of the oppressed and God. This is God's response to these prayers.
Q: Do you have a message for the viewers of Al-Jazeera? You know Al-Jazeera is now translated into so many languages and transmitted around the world.
BIN LADEN: In this fighting between Islam and the crusaders, we will continue our jihad. We will incite the nation for Jihad until we meet God and get his blessing. Any country that supports the Jews can only blame itself. If Sheik Suleiman Abu Gheith spoke specifically about America and Britain, this is only an example to give other countries the chance to review their books.
What do Japan or Australia or Germany have to do with this war? They just support the infidels and the crusaders.
This is a recurring war. The original crusade brought Richard [the Lionhearted] from Britain, Louis from France, and Barbarus from Germany. Today the crusading countries rushed as soon as Bush raised the cross. They accepted the rule of the cross.
What do the Arab countries have to do with this crusade? Everyone that supports Bush, even with one word, is an act of great treason. You change your name and you help the enemy to kill our children, and you are telling me we are facilitating things between us and the Americans. What are they talking about? Those who talk about the loss of innocent people didn't yet taste how it feels when you lose a child, don't know how it feels when you look in your child's eyes and all you see is fear, don't know how it feels when, in Palestine, our brothers are being hunted by army helicopters in the middle of their own homes with their families and children. Everyday. They show you the injured and the dead, and they shed tears, but no tears are shed for our women and children killed in Palestine. Are they not afraid that one day they get the same treatment?
[Bin Laden recites verses from the Quran on same subject.]
The Europeans are free, but when they side with the Jews, that their [unintelligible]. I tell Muslims to believe in the victory of God and in Jihad against the infidels of the world. The killing of Jews and Americans is one of the greatest duties.
[More Quranic verses.]
Remember the saying, "If they want to exile you, they can't exile you unless it is written by God." Don't ask anyone's opinion when it comes to the killing of Americans, and remember your appointment with God and the best of the prophets.
[More Quranic verses.]
As far as Pakistan siding with the crusaders, our brothers in Pakistan and their actions will facilitate our attack on the coalition of crusaders. Everyone supporting America, even medically, is considered renouncing Islam. Our brother in Pakistan should react pretty quick and strong in order to praise God and his prophet. Today, Islam is calling on you to act quickly.
[Quoting the farewell speech of Mohammed] "Oh, Islam, oh, Islam, there is no other god than God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God."
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