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Profile of Phillip Spector, Osama bin Laden

Aired September 13, 2003 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the legendary music producer who is at the center of a Hollywood mystery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phillip Spector has been booked for murder.


ANNOUNCER: Born in New York and raised in L.A., he didn't fit in in high school but soon found his calling.


MARKY RAMONE, MUSICIAN: To produce the sound that he made at that time takes a genius.


ANNOUNCER: His "wall of sound" scored him hits and fame with groups like the Ronettes. But he was also known for his erratic behavior.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spector pulled out a gun and shot it through the ceiling of the studio at A&M Records.


ANNOUNCER: Now, this reclusive celebrity is thrust back into the spotlight after the death of an actress inside of his home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He referred to the whole thing as, yes; it's the anatomy of a frame-up.


ANNOUNCER: The secretive world of Phil Spector. Then, a new video surfaces of the world's most notorious terrorist, the mastermind behind the attacks of September 11.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Those who don't agree with killing, then let them step out of the way.


ANNOUNCER: The son of a Saudi multi-millionaire, his money and powered have inspired many in his war with America. He has been the force driving people to kill, using Islam as a shield.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is justifying these actions in a very explicit Koranic/Islamic term.


ANNOUNCER: Osama bin Laden's journey to jihad. Their stories, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. He was the first tycoon of teen, the powerhouse producer who built the "Wall of Sound". Phil Spector's achievements, his genius, and his eccentricities are legendary. But the man who once made sound his career, has spent decades in silence and seclusion. Now, a mysterious death has cast Spector out of the shadows and back into the headlines. Charles Feldman has our profile.


CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could have been an ordinary Los Angeles night on the town, a drive through West Hollywood, past the neon signs on Sunset Boulevard, drinks, music at L.A.'s trendy House of Blues. Instead, the night turned deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was about 5:25 in the morning when I heard the boom, boom, boom.

FELDMAN: Early on Monday morning, February 3, police were called to the working class suburb of Alhambra, 20 miles from L.A., a world away from the Sunset Strip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house is located at the Pyrenes Castle, where it indicates 1700 Grandview Drive.

FELDMAN: Dubbed the Pyrenees Castle, it's the biggest home in the area, owned by legendary record producer, Phil Spector. It's now a crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phillip Spector has been booked for murder and has a million dollar bail.

FELDMAN: Just hours after Spector left Hollywood, he was arrested for suspicion of murder. Lana Clarkson, a 40-year-old part- time actress and hostess was found lying in a pool of blood, dead from a gunshot wound in the foyer of his 33-room mansion. RAY CAVALERI, CLARKSON'S PUBLICIST: Totally shocked. She had just started working at house of Blues.

SALLY KIRLAND, CLARKSON'S FRIEND: When I read that it's my girlfriend, Lana, I went into a kind of a shock. And I thought it was pretty tragic.

FELDMAN: Spector hired famed O.J. Simpson attorney, Robert Shapiro, and was released after posting the million-dollar bail. Until the morning of his arrest, Phil Spector had been most famous for his "Wall of Sound" productions.

RAMONE: "Wall of Sound" was a bunch of musicians in the studio, a bunch of percussionists, tambourine players, two drummers, a chorus of singers. To produce the sound that he made at that time takes a genius.

FELDMAN: That sound created some of the most memorable songs of the '60s, huge hits like the Crystals, "Da Doo Ron Ron," and the Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

MARK RIBOWSKY, BIOGRAPHER: Spector really was the first and the last of the great producers who were actually the star of their records. I mean people know who Puff Daddy is, but these people don't dominate the business the way Spector did. His sound dominated the business. His personality dominated the business.

FELDMAN: Spector was also known for his erratic behavior in recording studios, drinking, surrounding himself with bodyguards and carrying guns.

RAMONE: He did wave them around. But I'm not saying he did it for any reason, to hurt anybody. He was like a cowboy at times.

FELDMAN: At the time of the incident, Spector had become a recluse, barely leaving his hilltop mansion. Far away from his Alhambra castle, Spector grew up Harvey Phillip Spector in a lower section of the Bronx, New York.

RIBOWSKY: His was the typical Jewish family life in the Bronx, growing up in the '40s and '50s. The family emigrated at the turn of the century from Russia. And he had the typical family life -- the mother, father, sister and Spector.

FELDMAN: When Spector was 8 years old, his father, under severe financial strain, committed suicide.

RIBOWSKY: He did it in a particularly gruesome way, too, and painful way, I would imagine. He ran a hose from his exhaust pipe of his car through the window of the -- you know, the front window and slowly died on the street in broad daylight as people walked by his car.

FELDMAN: In 1953, Spector's mother moved the family to L.A.'s Fairfax district, where she worked as a seamstress. Spector enrolled at Fairfax High and had a tough time fitting in. BURT PRELUTSKY, CLASSMATE: He seemed to be just about the only student at Fairfax High who wasn't on the academic track. So I figured, well, he's one of those few people that's taking shop classes or he's going to grow up to be a mechanic or something.

FELDMAN: Spector was mostly drawn to music. He excelled on piano, drums, the French horn and guitar.

RIBOWSKY: His mother, Bertha, and Charlie, for his birthday, bought him a guitar. And being Phil Spector, he leaped into this obsession with a guitar as only he could, learned how to play it brilliantly.

FELDMAN: But Spector wasn't immediately a hit with his peers. His first performance was at a high school assembly.

PRELUTSKY: I was astonished to see him coming out on that stage with his guitar and even more astonishing when I heard that terrible, terrible voice. He was singing something. And I wasn't alone in my critique because there was absolute silence when he stopped singing and making that terrible, terrible noise.

FELDMAN: Spector managed to improve. He went on to write and record original songs with two classmates. In 1958, they formed The Teddy Bears. Spector took the first title of their first tong "To Know Him is To Love Him" from his father's epitaph. The song went to No. 1.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him...

RIBOWSKY: Here is Phil Spector at 17, 18 years old, producing that song in a way that had never been done before, in the L.A. studios where you come in and do a half hour session with three or four musicians and you go home. He would stay in there overdubbing the guitar parts, overdubbing the vocals, running it through the echo chambers, doing it in a way that -- people out there thought he was nuts.

FELDMAN: Spector left singing behind and honed in on writing and producing. In 1961, he co-founded the Philles record label. His first group on the label, The Crystals with songs like "He's a Rebel" went straight to the top.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he doesn't do what everybody else does. That's no reason why I can't give him all my love...

DARLENE LOVE, SINGER: He would sit in the control room and be the master.



P. SPECTOR: Darlene...

LOVE: He knew exactly what he wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby, my darling...

FELDMAN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Spector gets what he wants, more hits, like the Ronettes, "Be My Baby."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll make you happy baby...

RONNIE SPECTOR, EX-WIFE: When you heard that voice on the line and he said, "This is the voice I've been looking for."

FELDMAN: But his romance with the group's lead singer takes a bizarre turn.

LOVE: Phil was in a rage with Ronnie. "Where have you been? I told you not to leave this studio."





FELDMAN (voice-over): By the age of 21, Phil Spector had become a millionaire with songs like The Crystals, "He's a Rebel."

LOVE: After he talked to me, "He's a Rebel," he said, "Now darling, don't be deviating, just sing the song exactly the way I tell you to sing it." And I went, "Oh, OK."

P. SPECTOR: Let's forget about the intro for now. Let's just come right in. One, two, three.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every evenin' when the sun goes down...

FELDMAN: Love says Spector was a control freak, running the studio like a factory, using musicians interchangeably in sessions that could last for days.

LOVE: One day I was mad at Phil Spector, and I decided I was not going to go to this session. And Phil said, "Sonny, didn't you tell me Cher could sing?"

FELDMAN: Spector turned to his assistant, Sonny Bono. Bono asked his 16-year-old girlfriend, Cherilyn, who had always dreamed of becoming a singer, to stand in.

CHER, MUSICIAN: Phillip said, "Sonny says you can sing." And I started to explain to him what I thought I could do, blah, blah, blah. And then he said, "No, I just need noise. Get out there." And that was "Be My Baby," and that was the first thing I did.

THE RONETTES: Oh, since the day I saw you; I have been waiting for you. FELDMAN: That song eventually became famous by another Spector group, The Ronettes. It's still one of the most recognizable songs of the '60s.

R. SPECTOR: And I heard, "Be my" -- he said, "How catchy." And I said, "Is that really for me?" I didn't know. He was actually writing love letters to me while he was making my records.

FELDMAN: Spector fell hard for the Ronettes lead singer, Ronnie Bennett, and although he was married to long-time sweetheart, Nanette Lamar (ph), a romance heated up in the studio.

R. SPECTOR: No one around me told me he was married --Cher, Sonny, Darlene, I'll kill them. They didn't tell me he was married.

RIBOWSKY: Phil and Ronnie were a great love story in the canyons of New York and the music business. Ronnie apparently opened up worlds to him that he didn't know existed.

FELDMAN: The two married in 1968. But musicians say he controlled his wife like he controlled his music.

LOVE: So I said, "Come on, Phil, we went right around the corner to get a hamburger. We didn't know Ronnie wasn't supposed to leave." "Well, I gave her strict instructions not to leave here. She wasn't supposed to leave." I'm like OK.

FELDMAN: By 1964, 25-year-old Spector had put 23 records in the top 50. He took on the white soul-singing Righteous Brothers and made hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS: We had a love, a love, a love you don't find everyday.

FELDMAN: But Spector's run of hits soon dried up. By the end of the year, the British had invaded.

RIBOWSKY: By '64, he was part of the American recording scene that was vanquished by the Beatles. He couldn't help it. His way of making music was old hat.

FELDMAN: Spector tried one more time in 1966, with the Ike and Tina Turner album, "River Deep, Mountain High." It failed.

RIBOWSKY: That was his statement that he was going to beat back the Beatles. He buried Tina Turner in that song. So he miscalculated terribly, and he was gone, just like that, he was gone.

FELDMAN: Devastated, Spector turned his back on the music industry and became a virtual recluse. His behavior became increasingly odd. He drank heavily, surrounded himself with bodyguards and regularly carried a gun.

R. SPECTOR: I stayed married to him for a while, until I found myself being literally a prisoner in his home. There were barbed wire fences. There were security guards. There were security men. FELDMAN: She finally walked out on their marriage in 1974. High school classmate Burt Prelutsky saw Spector at their 10th year reunion.

PRELUTSKY: And he came with three bodyguards, and he took a table near the rear of the room, and the bodyguards were stationed around the table, so that nobody could get close to Phil.

FELDMAN: Spector resurfaced briefly in 1970 to produce the Beatles "Let It Be" album but behaved strangely while working with John Lennon.

RIBOWSKY: John would come to him and say, "Phil, come on, let's do some work." And they would fight and scream, so at one point, John said -- you know, he must have said something, you know, more forceful than that. Spector pulled out a gun and shot a hole through the ceiling of A&M Records.

FELDMAN: He also pulled out a gun during a session with the Ramones in 1980. He produced their successful "End of The Century" album.

RAMONE: He had on occasion to be a little macho, to be a cowboy. See, I thought it was funny, seeing this guy do this. The great Phil Spector doing this, playing, you know, with the guns.

FELDMAN: Twenty years later, that gunplay and Spector's reputation would come into question. When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Phil Spector, murder suspect, a late night rendezvous turns deadly.





TINA TURNER, MUSICIAN: I'm very happy to say that the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame welcomes Phil Spector.

FELDMAN (voice-over): A little more than a decade ago, Phil Spector was honored for being one of the best music producers of all time. Since then, he has spent most of his time, not in the recording studios, but holed up at his Alhambra fortress, surrounded by a six- foot wall, shielded by electronic gates. "Esquire" writer, Scott Raab, is one of the few journalists, Spector invited to his home.

SCOTT RAAB, EDITOR AT LARGE, "ESQUIRE": A bodyguard was sitting at a chair at the door. And suddenly, Phillip appears kind of at the bottom of the stairs, rumpled, but kind of elegant, small, friendly face. It's kind of like sitting with a comic in a deli or your Jewish uncle who grew up in the Bronx. He regales you with stories and he's really a -- he's well read. He's a funny guy.

FELDMAN: Since Spector is known to be reclusive it remains a mystery as to how he and Lana Clarkson came together that February night. Lana Clarkson's friends say she knew how to make an entrance.

KIRKLAND: When she walked in, it was like, who is that, you know. She's in heels, six feet tall, manes of hair, beautiful body, funny, you know, kind of like the old school of Hollywood.

FELDMAN: The 40-year-old striking blonde always wanted to be an actress. Her first role, one word in the '80s teen flick, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."


FELDMAN: Clarkson got more action in low budget movies like 1985's "Barbarian Queen" and later in "The Wizards of The Lost Kingdom."

CLARKSON: You know, who cares about another privileged, upper middle class, white male anyway.

FELDMAN: And two years ago, she got some stage work. She played a feminist in the community theater play, "The Powder Room Sweep." But recently, a broken wrist forced Clarkson to put acting aside. To make ends meet, she took a job as a hostess at the House of Blues. She took it in stride.

KIRKLAND: She had this cheerleader personality, so she embraced this job like it was a lead in a Spielberg film.

FELDMAN: But friends wonder why Clarkson would have left the Sunset Strip and venture to an unfamiliar suburb.

KIRKLAND: I doubt Lana even knew where it was. You know what I mean? It's like I don't know quite how that moment happened of going all the way to Alhambra. It was fatal mistake.

FELDMAN: According to news reports, around 10 p.m. Sunday, February 2, Spector left his Alhambra mansion and headed to Hollywood. His first stop, Dan Tanas, an Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. He reportedly arrived with a female friend and had two rum cocktails. He paid his $55 bill, leaving a $500 tip. Close to midnight, he arrived alone at The House of Blues. Lana Clarkson, on hostess duty in the Foundation Room, a room for big spenders, greeted him at the door. Spector reportedly ordered expensive champagne.

After the club closed at 2:00 a.m., the two were seen talking in the parking lot and then leaving together at 2:30 in Spector's limo. Spector, Clarkson left the Sunset Strip and drove the 20 miles to the strange Alhambra castle on top of the hill.

(on camera): Many of the facts are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about what happened once Clarkson and Spector arrived here at the castle. What we do know is around 5:00 a.m. the chauffeur called law enforcement to report having heard gunfire. By the time police arrived, Lana Clarkson was lying dead in a pool of blood and Phil Spector was under arrest on suspicion of murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're processing the scene, gathering evidence, trying to locate informants and witnesses.

FELDMAN (voice-over): Spector posted a million-dollar bail and returned to his Alhambra estate. Although he has not been charged with any crime, in July's "Esquire" magazine, Spector spoke out, claiming his innocence and saying, in his words, that Clarkson kissed the gun."

RIBOWSKY: It seems like the version that Phil told me that Lana Clarkson wanted a ride home, that wanted to see the castle. He never, never saw her before in his life, had no idea what her agenda was, if she was loud and drunk at the bar, did she grab the bottle of Tequila on the way out, that it's a -- you know, it's a sad thing. It's a tragic thing, but clearly, the woman must have had problems.

FELDMAN: Clarkson's friends defend her character.

KIRKLAND: And I read somewhere in the press that she killed herself. No, this was not someone who is going to kill herself. No way. She was at a very happy time in her life.

ROBERT HALL, CLARKSON'S FORMER BOYFRIEND: No way. Over the years, she's become very savvy and very smart. She never lets herself get into any kind of weird predicaments.

FELDMAN: Both Spector and his attorney, Robert Shapiro, turned down our request for an interview. Although they both insist Spector is innocent, L.A. Homicide Captain Frank Merriman says he's certain Spector will be charged with a crime.

CAPT. FRANK MERRIMAN, L.A. POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're talking about anything from manslaughter, second-degree murder. There is a provision in the state law that calls for enhanced penalties for use of a gun allegation.

FELDMAN: It's still a mystery how the worlds of Phil Spector and Lana Clarkson collided, how a night on the town could have gone so terribly wrong. But whether he is charged or not, this legendary rock producer and artist, who became as famous for is eccentricities as his music, a man most comfortable hidden inside his armored castle, has been forced back into the spotlight by the events of that one fateful night.


ZAHN: Prosecutors recently delayed making a final decision on whether to charge Phil Spector with murder. So his $1 million bail has been extended through the end of this month.

ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, America's most wanted terrorist come out of the shadows in a new videotape. What's behind Osama bin Laden's trail of terror? That's next.


ANNOUNCER: All right. We're going to take you live to Geneva, Switzerland now, where the foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council. The five permanent members have been meeting to discuss civilization plans Iraq. Let's listen in to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


ANNOUNCER: We are listening in to the meeting that is happening in Geneva, Switzerland. Kofi Annan is there. He is talking with the foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members. They're discussing the situation in Iraq. Before we went to this, he characterized this meeting as a good meeting and says that they are reviewing main issues concerning Iraq, and says consensus is expected and achievable, but it is not enough. We will continue to follow this and bring you any developments, should they arise. We will go back now to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS and Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. A new tape, another anniversary. As America remembered the 9/11 attacks this week, Osama bin Laden reminded the world that he was still unaccounted for. On Wednesday, bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri appeared in a new video. And in separate audiotapes attributed to the al Qaeda leaders, they pledged to strike again. Mike Boettcher has our profile of the world's most wanted man.


MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Osama bin Laden got word of the first attack on the World Trade Center, those in the room with him that day say he prayed and wept, shouted Allah Akhbar! God is great! And then signaled his followers that more attacks were on the way.

BIN LADEN (through translator): They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building, so I said to them, be patient.

BOETTCHER: Later, he would talk about that event in cold-blooded fashion, drawing on his own background in construction and demolition.

BIN LADEN (through translator): Due to my experience in the field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit, and all the floors above it only. This is all that we hoped for.

BOETTCHER: The horror of 9/11 was to Osama bin Laden a triumph of planning and engineering. To him and al Qaeda, a great victory against an enemy, America, that they had been at war with for years.

Osama bin Laden had escalated that war, striking America within its own borders, something he had been working towards for years.

Osama bin Laden's journey towards jihad in global terrorism began in Saudi Arabia in 1957. He was the 17th of more than 50 children of a self-made billionaire. His father was from Yemen, but by the time Osama was born, he was head of what would be the largest construction firm in Saudi Arabia, a friend of the royal family.

Mohammed bin Laden would die in a plane crash when Osama was ten.

BERGEN: As a teenager, bin Laden was religiously quite devout, according to both family members and also people who knew him. He also became interested in the family business, started working in the family business, you know, in his late teens. And then eventually studied public administration at the university.

BOETTCHER: It was in his late teens that Osama bin Laden married the first of his four wives, a Syrian-born cousin. Then, in 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, like many young Muslim men of his generation, found his calling.

Joining the Mujahideen, the holy warriors, who were helping the Afghans, fight against the Communists. Influenced in part by one of his professors, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, who would become his mentor during the Afghan struggle.

Bin Laden first helped with money, using it to set up a series of guesthouses for the Mujahideen, coming to Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan from around the Arab world. He also obtained construction equipment from Saudi Arabia, and used the skills he had learned working in the family business.

BERGEN: He applied the lessons he learned from the demolition side of business to building crude shelters in the mountains of Afghanistan.

BOETTCHER: But then bin Laden took up arms. By the late '80s he was a hero and a leader to the men known as the Afghan Arabs, who had made their way to Afghanistan to be part of the struggle.

Then, as the war was winding down, bin Laden and his mentor, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam founded a group called al Qaeda, the base.

ROHAN GUNARATNA, AUTHOR, "INSIDE AL QAEDA": According to the founding talk of al Qaeda, on March 1988 when al Qaeda was founded, it states that al Qaeda is the pioneering vanguard of the Islamic movement. It is the spirit of Islam.

BOETTCHER: And this so-called pioneering vanguard, which wanted to continue holy war around the world, began to view another country as the enemy, a country which, ironically, had spent billions funding the Afghan resistance to the Soviets through the CIA.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, a personal encounter with the world's most wanted man.

BERGEN: He appeared to be somebody who was very subdued, didn't raise his voice above a whisper.





BOETTCHER (voice-over): August 1990, Saddam Hussein sends Iraqi forces into Kuwait. Within days, Iraqi troops are poised on Saudi Arabia's border. They are in striking distance of Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.

By this time, Osama bin Laden has returned to Saudi Arabia and he makes a proposal to a member of the Saudi royal family. His men, the battle-hardened Mujahideen who had fought in Afghanistan will help protect Mecca and Medina from Saddam Hussein -- a man he despised as a bad Muslim.

BOETTCHER: But instead the Saudi government agreed to let American troops into the country, rejecting bin Laden's proposal.

DR. SAAD AL-FAGIH, SAUDI DISSIDENT: He was actually harassed after giving this advice and he was put in sort of house arrest, asked not to leave at all. So he thought since then that there is American- Saudi conspiracy to control the land of Arabia. And that made a surge, in his opinion, against the U.S.

BOETTCHER: Even after the end of the Gulf War, American troops stayed in Saudi Arabia and they were the ones in effect now guarding the Muslim holy sites, not Osama bin Laden, and to him that was unthinkable.

Bin Laden was forced to leave Saudi Arabia in 1991. He moved to Sudan, which had a fundamentalist Islamic government. It's not clear how much money bin Laden had at his disposal from his share of the family business. Estimates range from $1 million to more than $250 million. But, he had enough money to be an honored guest of the Sudanese government.

BERGEN: During that period, bin Laden was clearly the largest businessman in Sudan. He had literally thousands of people working for him on his farms. He had banks, he had leather tanneries. He had a very wide range of businesses including construction, which of course is the family business.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden was also busy building up al Qaeda as a terrorist organization. He set up training camps and began to build up al Qaeda cells and alliances in the Middle East and East Africa.

During a 1997 interview, bin Laden would reveal how in 1993, al Qaeda helped Somali militias shoot down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters, killing 18.

BIN LADEN (through translator): With Allah's grace, Muslims in Somalia cooperated with some Arab holy warriors who were in Afghanistan. Together they killed large numbers of American occupation troops.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden would also be linked to attacks on those U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia that he so strongly opposed. The attacks in Riyadh in 1995 and Dhahran a year later would kill 24 Americans. At the time, bin Laden denied involvement but praised the attackers. BIN LADEN (through translator): It's no secret that during the two explosions, I was not in Saudi Arabia, but I have great respect for the people who did this. They are heroes. What they did is a big honor that I missed participating in.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden was also named, in 1995, as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Ramzi Yousef, the man convicted as the mastermind of that attack, had stayed in a bin Laden guesthouse after he fled America.

Again, in his 1997 interview with CNN, bin Laden would deny a role.

BIN LADEN (through translator): I don't know Ramzi Yousef. What the American government and Pakistani intelligence has been reporting isn't true at all.

BOETTCHER: By 1996, bin Laden was wearing out his welcome in Sudan. The U.S. was pressuring the Sudanese government to kick him out, and bin Laden returned to Afghanistan.

That's where the CNN interview took place. Peter Bergen was the producer. Bergen and the CNN crew spent more than an hour with bin Laden.

BERGEN: We didn't know really what to expect because this was his first television interview. But he -- he appeared to be somebody who was very subdued. He didn't raise his voice above a whisper. He's very tall, 6 foot 5. So my main impression of him was despite the fact that he was attacking the United States, very strongly in this interview, was that he delivered the whole tirade in a very low- key subdued kind of way.

BOETTCHER: And, bin Laden made it clear that he was at war with America, calling for a jihad, a holy war. He said America was unjust and tyrannical.

At the time, in 1997, he claimed his jihad was limited to military targets.

BIN LADEN (through translator): We have focused declaration of jihad on striking at the U.S. soldiers inside Arabia, the country of the two holy places, Mecca and Medina. In our religion it is not permissible for any non-Muslims to stay in Arabia. Therefore, even though the American civilians are not targeted in our plan, they must leave. We do not guarantee their safety.

BOETTCHER: A year later, in 1998, bin Laden would leave no doubt that he was at war with America. He invited journalists to hear him issue a fatwah, a proclamation, calling on Muslims to kill Americans everywhere, and announce what was essentially a coalition of Islamic terrorist groups.

Bin Laden made it clear he wanted the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia and into Israel and an end to the U.N. boycott against Iraq. BIN LADEN (through translator): By God's grace, thanks to him we declared, as many scholars did, that it is mandatory that we struggle and do jihad to get the Americans out of the Arabian Peninsula. And jihad is mentioned here. It is to me carrying the weapon and to kill those Americans.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden was flanked by his military commander, Muhammad Atef, and the man who was the leader of Egypt's al Jihad group, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al Qaeda and al Jihad had been working together already for years.

At that 1998 meeting with journalists, Osama bin Laden was asked how he and al Qaeda hoped to take on the United States. Bin Laden reminded journalists that his men had already helped defeat one superpower, forcing it out of Afghanistan. Now they were ready to declare war on America, and make it leave his homeland by any means necessary.

BIN LADEN (through translator): If it is clear to you what our strength is, the Americans and Jews know what our strength is and they will withdraw from the Arabian Peninsula.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden hinted that there would be more news in the near future.

Coming up, the terrifying realization of exactly what that news was.





BOETTCHER (voice-over): Less than 11 weeks later, al Qaeda made good on its threat. Watching simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The date was August 7, 1998. Eight years to the day that the first U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia.

A few weeks later, the U.S. would retaliate, launching Cruise missiles at what it said were al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States launched an attack this morning on one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. It is located in Afghanistan, and operated by groups affiliated with Osama bin Laden.

BOETTCHER: But the retaliation was a disaster. Neither bin Laden nor his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri were anywhere near the camps. But they turned up later to thumb their noses at the U.S. And across the Muslim world, Osama bin Laden became something of a cult hero. But to the American government, he was the most wanted man in the world, and bin Laden wasn't through.

A series of attacks against America around the time of the millennium was averted, but in October 2000, al Qaeda struck again. A boat packed with explosives rammed the U.S.S. Cole while it was arriving at a harbor in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors died.

Early the next year in January 2001, bin Laden appeared in a video showing the wedding of his son to the daughter of his military commander, Muhammad Atef.

There was more video a few months later. In this, bin Laden seemed to hint of an attack but he didn't say where. The plan, it turned out, had been in the offing for more than a year. Simultaneous attacks on New York and Washington. A cadre of young men, mostly from Saudi Arabia, recruited for the suicide mission.

BIN LADEN (through translator): Those young men, sent in deeds in New York and Washington, speeches that overshadow all other speeches made everywhere else in the world.

GUNARATNA: Osama bin Laden's main reason to strike the United States was because Osama wanted to create Islamic states in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. And the United States was protecting, was shielding those countries. The United States is the head of the snake, was preventing those states from becoming Islamic.

BOETTCHER: But by this time, says Gunaratna, Osama bin Laden may have overreached himself. In the past, he says, bin Laden had been openly contemptuous of the U.S. and perhaps never believed it would mobilize and help route the Taliban government that was providing his safe haven in Afghanistan.

This statement was released to Al-Jazeera the same day American planes began bombing Afghanistan.

BIN LADEN (through translator): There is America, bit by God in one of its softest spot, its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.

BOETTCHER: The Northern Alliance victory over the Taliban turned bin Laden into a man on the run. There were occasional video appearances though the dates were unclear. His last known whereabouts at the siege of Tora Bora in Eastern Afghanistan during late November and early December.

According to one account from a member of al Qaeda, U.S. bombs falling on Tora Bora missed bin Laden by a little more than 200 yards. And intelligence sources told CNN that bin Laden was injured at Tora Bora and later had an operation, that he disappeared over the border into Pakistan.

There were rumors, sightings, intelligence reports. There were even letters said to be from him posted on the Internet warning of future attacks. Then, right before the anniversary of 9/11, this tape, praising each of the hijackers by name. A month later on the anniversary of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, another audiotape, calling on Americans to convert to Islam. Experts could not put a date on either tape. But finally in November of last year, proof that bin Laden was still alive. A tape praising a string of recent attacks, some of them claimed by al Qaeda.

BIN LADEN (through translator): The killing of the British and Australians and the body explosions -- the recent Moscow operation -- and some dispersed operations here and there -- are all reactions and treatment in kind dealt by the zealous sons of Islam in defense of their religion.

BOETTCHER: Then on the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11 attacks, another videotape showing Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The videotape was accompanied by an audiotape reportedly of bin Laden once again praising the hijackers.

BIN LADEN (through translator): Those who don't agree with killing, then let them step out of the way.

BOETTCHER: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) most recent message, another familiar theme. This warning that more attacks from al Qaeda should be expected.

BIN LADEN (through translator): Just as you kill, you will get killed, and just as you shell, you will get shelled. Await them what will (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BOETTCHER: Providing an eerie echo of a statement he made in 1997 to CNN, when he was asked then about his plans for the future.

BIN LADEN (through translator): You'll see them and hear about them in the media. God willing.


ZAHN: In addition to urging attacks on Americans in Iraq, the latest tapes attributed to al Qaeda also call on the Palestinians to reject the U.S. backed plan for peace in the Middle East.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, friends say farewell, a look at a pop culture phenomenon in its final season. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.

ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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