On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, British newspaper The Independent republished its famous interview with Osama bin Laden, conducted by the late leftist British journalist, Robert Fisk.
In this interview, Fisk presented bin Laden in a cinematic image, describing him as a revolutionary, dissident, ferocious combatant intent on toppling the Saudi “royal” regime, as Fisk described it at the time, and “ending US presence in the Kingdom.” He described the bombings that killed 24 Americans in Riyadh and the Dhahran base near Khobar as a “symbolism of Saudi anger at the presence of US troops -- a presence that represents an insult to the Saudi people.”
During the interview, bin Laden wondered: “Didn’t the Europeans resist German occupation during WWII?” To that, Fisk responded that “no European would condone such a proposition, as Nazis killed millions of Europeans whereas the US hasn’t killed a single Saudi so far.”
This relation and exchange of advice between the late leftist British journalist and the founder of the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world has even more dangerous dimensions, roots, and ramifications.
In 2017, Al-Arabiya.net published a dangerous press investigation into the Abbottabad documents, which US troops found in bin Laden’s secret headquarters near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and many of which were later released to the public. These extensive documents are still full of surprises, including the special bond between bin Laden and Fisk.
In one of the documents, bin Laden writes to his organization’s leaders and tasks them with sending after Fisk -- as well as an Arab anti-Saudi Arabia journalist based in London, who had also interviewed bin Laden -- on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to prepare a documentary film. He states in his letter that this would be a good opportunity to promote the discourse of al-Qaeda.
The purpose of this reminder is to highlight the collaboration and interplay between Western leftist hardliners and militarized Political Islam organizations, which bin Laden and his organization exemplify best.
This alliance and collaboration have not disappeared, nor has the justification and marketing of military Islamist organizations waned on leftist platforms, which describe those organizations as revolutionary rebellious movements, despite the possible differences between Western understanding of these conceptions. This perhaps explains Fisk’s advice to bin Laden not to insult European sentiment by comparing Americans to Nazis.
What’s remarkable in that dialogue is bin Laden’s promotion of the Khobar bombings as an expression of a popular Saudi will, while everyone knows it was arranged by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and executed by Hezbollah and its followers in the Kingdom purely to serve an Iranian objective. This also reveals how the collaboration and cooperation against Saudi Arabia is the fruit of Iranian-Muslim Brotherhood efforts (we must not forget that Osama bin Laden grew on the path of the Muslim Brotherhood since his university years).
The reproduction of the dialogue perhaps symbolizes that the understanding of the crisis in our region in Western, and particularly leftist eyes is still the same.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.