Pulled Quotes from the Program
“I think he’s [Osama bin Laden] always modeled himself on the Prophet Muhammed and the Prophet Muhammed was not only a great religious figure, but was also somebody who personally battled the infidels. and so for bin Laden it would have been important to continue in the Prophet Muhammed’s footsteps,” – Peter L. Bergen, co-producer of In the Footsteps of bin Laden and author of The Osama bin Laden I Know
“I predict a black day for the United States after which the United States will never be the same,” – Osama bin Laden, television interview 1998
Other things you may not have known about Osama bin Laden before viewing CNN Presents: In the Footsteps of bin Laden:
On the legendary rise to prominence of the bin Laden family
“In Saudi Arabia, the bin Laden name is everywhere. It’s a vast empire with humble beginnings.
The family patriarch, Mohamed…rose from a menial laborer to head one of the largest and most successful construction companies in the Middle East.” – voiceover excerpt from Christiane Amanpour, reporting for CNN Presents: In the Footsteps of bin Laden
On Mohamed bin Laden’s marriages to possibly as many as 20 wives
“The old man was known to have an eye for alarmingly young wives. These were very often quite unsophisticated simple girls from the, uh, from the villages.” – Brian Fyfield-Shayler, former schoolteacher of Osama bin Laden
A childhood friend of Osama bin Laden describes him as preferring to solve youthful disputes peacefully:
“So I went running to, 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.” – Dr. Khalid Batarfi, childhood friend of Osama bin Laden
On Osama bin Laden’s increasing radicalization during the mid-late 1970s, and bin Laden’s motivation:
“All of 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.” – Peter L. Bergen
On bin Laden’s initial fearfulness in battle as a young jihadi:
“When bin Laden used to hear the explosions – he used to, to jump and he used to run away. And I still remember that me and my elder and younger brother – we used to laugh.” – Hutaifa Azzam, son of bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, lived with Osama bin Laden for eight years during the Afghan-Soviet War
On Osama bin Laden’s justification for killing civilians in the name of jihad:
“He said that, ‘Yes. The killing of, uh, innocent children and women, is not permitted in Islam. But, uh, 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,” – Hamid Mir, newspaper publisher in Pakistan and official biographer of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden requested a chilling fatwah from Omar Abdel Rahman (the “blind sheik”) in 1998:
“In that fatwa, it was written that, ‘kill Americans, in the sea. Kill Americans in the air. Kill Americans everywhere…’” – Hamid Mir
What al Qaeda followers boasted to at least one Afghan journalist in the days leading up to 9/11:
“Well, I think it was a big news. “I told my uh channel that his followers were telling me that the coffin business will increase in the States, the United Dtates.” – Bakr Atyani
Why September 11 may not be viewed as a complete victory by those inside al Qaeda:
“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, we, you know, the Taliban no longer exists more or less, the 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 lb gorilla after us now and in fact I’m going to leave. and he left Afghanistan, and he went to Saudi Arabia. and he’s basically I think washed his hands of his father.” – Peter Bergen
On why we may have lost track of Osama bin Laden in 2001.
“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.” – Peter Bergen, In the Footsteps of bin Laden
Return to Top
Q & A with Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour
1. QUESTION: Is there one incident in Osama bin Laden's life that caused the scales to tip for his personal jihad?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: That's a good sort of theme of what we were trying to examine in this hour, what made somebody such as that who comes from – you would expect him to be a fairly sort of normal guy. He comes from wealth, his father was extremely world-respected, extremely close to the Royal family, his family had ties abroad and to the United States as well. From what we were able to gather, you know, and what is actually quite well-known in broad brush strokes, you know, the war in Afghanistan was a major turning point. The arrival of the United States forces and others in Saudi Arabia and in that reason in order to repel Saddam Hussein in August of 1990, you know, those issues were the main turning point issues. But we also found out from his friends that, you know, at around that time, he was already beginning to cast off the trappings of his wealth and his wealthy and privileged lifestyle, that, for instance, he would go out to the desert sort of alone or with close friends and, sort of like "Survivor," to go out and see whether he could cope with no creature comforts and, you know, a lot of prayer.
But I think for me what was interesting was the notion according to some of his friends that there was a moment, and not so long ago, that they thought maybe they could bring him back and that his connection with Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian cleric of the Muslim brotherhood is what finally turned him and some people suggest that it was Zawahiri's jihad, his version of wholly war that perhaps Osama bin Laden is fighting today. I mean, I don't want to get into sort of armchair pop psychology or speculation about somebody I've never met, but from the words of the people who we talked to, those seemed to be the crucial moments.
2. QUESTION: You know, we've had interviews recently with Dan Rather, Ted Koppel on this tour, and they say much the same thing, that you are almost keeping a flame burning that they are not sure is still going to be there when they go because of corporate, you know, priorities and so on. Do you feel that way as well?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I think much has been speculated and talked about, and a lot of ink has been spilled over the premature death of international news coverage, and I just don't see it happening. Every time people talk about it fading, something else comes up to make it, you know, center stage again. So I think that it's definitely – it's here to stay. It's impossible for it to go away because it's so vital and so necessary, that one way or another people are going to find the news and the information they want and need. And so why not do it really well on television in the place which, in my view, is a hundred percent associated with this kind of coverage which is CNN? And I think that people look to us for that. I still do.
3. QUESTION: …These people you interviewed, how recently had any of them either seen Osama bin Laden or spoken with him? And all of them, did you get the feeling that they actually wanted him to be captured? And if so, or maybe not captured, but, you know, they wanted him to come in from the cold in some way, and if so, why? Did they have a variety of reasons, either because they love him and they are worried about him or they think he's a horrible person or what? That's a lot of questions.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: …Some who we talked to expressed deep horror at the way this person they thought they knew turned into what he has become. In terms of how long ago did they see him, obviously, it was all pre-9/11. And some were people who haven't seen him for a while, but others had seen him much more recently, right and up until just before 9/11. So it's a range of acquaintances and that kind of thing.
But definitely, you know, in my view, this is not an attempt to understand the man. This is an attempt to just provide more information, more knowledge from the horse's mouth, people who have actually met him, many of – most of us haven't, obviously. There's only a handful of people who can actually talk about him. And it's an attempt to, you know, try to keep painting and filling in that picture and to complete as far as we can, which we can't yet, parts of the puzzle. So we are just trying to build the blocks of knowledge about this person who has declared war.
4. QUESTION: And also, what would you say to the public? What is the lure to watch this? Is there news here or –
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I think there's most definitely news in that…we have interviewed people who have never been interviewed before and in that we have some of the documentation that is seen for the first time. But I think also…it's the first kind of rounded picture on television of this man.
Source: Television Critics Association, July 14, 2006.
Return to Top