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Abbottabad dossier: Curious case of links between Fisk and bin Laden’s letters

Published: Updated:

As the Abbottabad documents continue to reveal more of the inner-workings of al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Ladin, the letters found in his Pakistan compound in 2011 show how the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks took such care of his portrayal throughout the West by focusing on British journalist Robert Fisk.

The dossier has raised several key questions regarding past articles written by leftist journalist Fisk, who wrote extensively on bin Ladin and al-Qaeda especially during the 10-year anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks in 2011.

Fisk published a piece for British daily, The Independent, titled “For 10 years, we’ve lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question” in which he tackled some of the many books, opinions, articles and reports published around the world on the secrets of the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Fisk’s piece marking 10-year anniversary of 9/11 attacks

Read closely, many would notice that both Fisk’s article, who is close to the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah, and bin Laden’s directives through the letters uncovered in the Abbottabad dossier share a great amount of similarities. It is as if both documents had sprung from the same source.

In one of his letters, bin Laden assigned to a number of his al-Qaeda commanders the task of reaffirming the organization’s agenda during the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2011. Bin Laden specifically instructed them to reach out Abdel Bari Atwan and Robert Fisk and considered the anniversary a good opportunity to explain the motives behind the organization’s intention of continuing their war of terror, one that has been so detrimental to the Islamic world.

Bin Laden declared in one his letters: “I believe that you should contact Abdel Bari Atwan and Robert Fisk under the banner of free speech and on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the September attacks, which represents the harvest of ten years of war between the Mujahideen and the Americans. You will need to raise the banner of ‘one’s opinion and the other’. This is an opportunity to clarify our motives to continue a war that is harmful to both humanity and the Islamic world. Amid dangerous environmental conditions, it is important to end injustices and for mankind to seek the reduction of gas emissions. Given the current state, we have no choice but to defend our nation against incursions. Thus, it is important to present the real picture surrounding this war as a conflict between two of the largest civilizations on earth amid dangerous climatic conditions”.

A boy plays with a tennis ball in front of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad in this May 5, 2011 file picture. (Reuters)
A boy plays with a tennis ball in front of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad in this May 5, 2011 file picture. (Reuters)

Bin Laden then added in his letter: “We want them [referring to Atwan and Fisk] to make a documentary film on this 10th anniversary, and we will provide them with information that is readable, audible and visual. We hope that they will reveal different matters and highlight the role played by the Mujahideen as the main cause for the financial crisis afflicting America”.

Fisk follows

Fisk then appears to respond to bin Laden’s request when he published his now-infamous piece for The Independent.

In the article, Fisk writes: “By their books, ye shall know them.

I’m talking about the volumes, the libraries – nay, the very halls of literature – which the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001 have spawned. Many are spavined with pseudo-patriotism and self-regard, others rotten with the hopeless mythology of CIA/Mossad culprits, a few (from the Muslim world, alas) even referring to the killers as “boys”, almost all avoiding the one thing which any cop looks for after a street crime: the motive”.

Fisk then adds: “Why so, I ask myself, after 10 years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, lies and hypocrisy and betrayal and sadistic torture by the Americans – our MI5 chaps just heard, understood, maybe looked, of course no touchy-touchy nonsense – and the Taliban? Have we managed to silence ourselves as well as the world with our own fears? Are we still not able to say those three sentences: The 19 murderers of 9/11 claimed they were Muslims. They came from a place called the Middle East. Is there a problem out there?”

Reuters 9/11
Reuters 9/11

Fisk then concludes his piece by saying the following: “We still haven’t told the truth about the crime which – we are supposed to believe – “changed the world forever”. Mind you, after watching Obama on his knees before Netanyahu last May, I’m really not surprised.

When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be told the answer to the most important and “sensitive” question of 9/11: why?”

Bin Laden and translating Fisk’s writings

Bin Laden’s eagerness to follow closely Fisk’s writings was ever more proven through the Abbottabad documents. In one letter, Fisk’s name was mentioned several times as Bin Laden even conveyed to his followers his wish for “Brother Azzam to translate Robert Fisk’s book.”

The Abbottabad documents further disclosed the existence of committees within the organization allocated monitoring and analyzing media reports and articles supporting the organization’s ideology both in the Arab and Western media. The committees were also in charge of compiling and preparing these reports with the intent of providing them for bin Laden’s counsel.

The Abbottabad documents also revealed that one of Robert Fisk’s articles published in 2004 was requested for translation following the Al Jazeera audio recording of bin Laden at the time.

Bin Laden and his praise of Fisk

To conclude, it is quite ironic that bin Laden so highly praised Robert Fisk since the latter is an avid anti-Saudi British journalist who has vehemently painted al-Qaeda and bin Laden as an exclusive Saudi - Wahhabi product.

And so according to a question posed by Fisk in one of his article: Is it possible for Iran to become the possible future policeman of the Middle East?

He responded in a Belfast Telegraph opinion piece in 2015 by saying: “Iran was reborn as a major Middle East nation when it agreed to limit its nuclear ambitions. Despite the “ifs” (if Iran complies with the “key parameters”, if Iran’s Revolutionary Guards don’t try to wreck the agreement, if Israel does not batter Iran’s nuclear facilities in a rogue nation attack) the framework could one day return the 36-year-old Islamic Republic to the status of a regional superpower which last existed under the Shah.”

“And who would be surprised if the US begins to re-examine its relationship with the Wahhabi Saudis who gave the world Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers of 9/11?”