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CNN PRESENTS

Encore Presentation: CNN Presents: In the Footsteps of bin Laden, Part I

Aired August 16, 2007 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a young gentleman, very gentle, very polite. He said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the most popular Muslim leader in the Islamic world today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear his voice it makes you want to stand up right away, to join him and fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he's good at is killing civilians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's extraordinarily important that we kill bin Laden.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Osama bin Laden is the world's most wanted terrorist. He haunts Americans and millions of other around the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: He also inspires many to fight in a way that he intends to be long, costly and bloody. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Peshawar, Pakistan, the birthplace of bin Laden's terrorist organization al Qaeda.

Not far from here just across the border in Afghanistan he disappeared shortly after 9/11. And now, five years later, we still don't know where he is or when he will strike again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): He wasn't a born leader and he didn't always despise the west, so what changed bin Laden? What shaped this son of Saudi wealth into the most feared terrorist of our time?

To know more about Osama bin Laden, to bring you his whole story, we visited his home, his headquarters, his hideouts. We journeyed in his footsteps from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Afghanistan.

We searched for answers from those who actually know him, his childhood friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never talked about the American people in a nasty way. AMANPOUR: His English teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He understood a reasonable amount of English but he was rather reticent in expressing himself.

AMANPOUR: The man who married his sister and was bin Laden's closest friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Osama always talked about his father all the time, his father, his model.

AMANPOUR: Men who fought with him in the early days and saw another side of Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When bin Laden used to hear the explosions he used to jump and he used to run away. I still remember that me and my elder and younger brother we used to laugh.

AMANPOUR: We met those who revere him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He is the one who stood up against the biggest enemy in the world, the United States, and we love him for that.

OSAMA BIN LADEN, NOVEMBER 11, 2001: If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, if killing those who kill our children is terrorism, then history should be a witness that we are terrorists.

AMANPOUR: He's a terrorist with surprising media savvy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was foreshadowing a plan that was already in effect.

AMANPOUR: He had a double agent.

ALI MOHAMMED: My name is Ali Mohammed.

AMANPOUR: Working deep inside the U.S. military and he has repeatedly warned America that he is going to attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said the next few weeks will carry a big surprise.

AMANPOUR: Those who have prayed with him, lived with him and fought for him share the story of his gradual but deadly transformation from a quiet, religious boy to the angry voice of holy war.

Osama bin Laden grew up in the boom town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a town his father helped build.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia in the 1960s was, of course, a fantastically wealthy kingdom. Jeddah was its main door to the west. It was its main port on the Red Sea and a huge amount of building taking place. BRIAN FYFIELD-SHAYLER: I'm Brian Fyfield-Shayler. I taught Osama bin Laden English in Saudi Arabia in 1968 to 1969. Osama sat about two-thirds of the way back on the right by the windows. He was not an outstanding student academically. On the other hand, he was a very bright boy.

AMANPOUR: Although Arabic and religious instruction took priority, the al-Fagr (ph) school, one of the top schools in the kingdom, was surprising progressive.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The boys had a western uniform. They had trousers and shirts and jackets and shoes.

AMANPOUR: Fyfield-Shayler had taught a number of bin Laden's brothers. Osama's family was well known in Saudi Arabia. His father's career was the stuff of legend.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The bin Ladens were almost a storybook success.

AMANPOUR: In Saudi Arabia, the bin Laden name is everywhere. It's a vast empire with humble beginnings. The family patriarch, Mohammed, seen here in rare photographs, rose from a menial laborer to head one of the largest and most successful construction companies in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He built the airport. He built virtually everything that was standing more than two meters high had been built by bin Laden.

AMANPOUR: Mohammed bin Laden's business acumen would be passed on to his son Osama, who years later would draw on those same skills to set up his terror network. What makes this rare glimpse of Mohammed bin Laden so extraordinary is that he's seen here with Faisal al-Saud, the man who would become the Saudi king. It highlights bin Laden's very close relationship with Saudi royalty, a connection critical to his extraordinary success.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: And he was quite a rough, unsophisticated character and no airs, graces.

AMANPOUR: Unsophisticated but fabulously wealthy and Mohammed bin Laden had many wives, about 20 all tolled, repeatedly divorcing and re-marrying.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: And the old man was known to have an eye for alarmingly young wives. These were very often quite unsophisticated simple girls from the -- from the villages.

AMANPOUR: He had more than 50 children. Osama was born in 1957 here in this Riyadh neighborhood. He was the only child his mother had with Mohammed bin Laden before they divorced. Then, bin Laden and his mother Alia moved to Jeddah and lived here apart from the other wives and children. Mohammed bin Laden died when Osama was just ten years old.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: The school was abuzz with the news that Mohammed bin Laden had been killed in a plane crash.

AMANPOUR: With so many siblings it's hard to say how close Osama was to his father or how the loss affected him. This photograph from the early 1970s shows some of the many bin Laden brothers and sisters on a vacation in Sweden.

Although it's not certain, some believe that this smiling boy, second from the right, is Osama when he was about 13 years old. He was quiet and shy. His teacher says he rarely spoke up in class.

FYFIELD-SHAYLER: He didn't show any particular signs of being a leader amongst men.

KHALID BATARFI: Yes, well he was a shy boy. He wouldn't talk unless he needed to. He would listen more. I'm Khalid Batarfi. I met Osama bin Laden in the early 1970s when we lived in this neighborhood.

AMANPOUR: This non-descript middle-class Jeddah neighborhood is where Batarfi, then age 12, and bin Laden three years older became neighbors and best friends going to the mosque together, playing together, watching TV together, among their favorite shows American westerns and Bruce Lee movies.

BATARFI: We would watch cowboys movies and karate movies, things that, you know, action movies.

AMANPOUR: Batarfi took us to the field where he and bin Laden played soccer as teenagers.

BATARFI: And just looking at it brings a lot of memories and I enjoyed being a captain really, you know, telling people what to do.

AMANPOUR: On the soccer field Batarfi was the leader, Osama the follower.

BATARFI: But I would tell him what to do and he was a good soldier. He would follow orders. Usually because he was taller than most of us and older he would play in the front because this way he could use his head in a score.

AMANPOUR: Batarfi says the teenage Osama would usually take the high road. He remembers a time his friend was being bullied.

BATARFI: So I went running 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.

AMANPOUR: While Batarfi took the lead on the playing field, when it came to religion there was no question Osama was in charge.

BATARFI: At the mosque we used to pray, yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Five times every day devout Muslims turn towards the holy city of Mecca to pray. Osama was always among them.

BATARFI: For him it was a must.

AMANPOUR: It is something of a mystery why this son of a wealthy family was drawn to such rigid religious beliefs. Over time, Batarfi saw his best friend become even more of a fundamentalist striving to live according to his ultra strict interpretation of the holy Koran.

BATARFI: No pictures, no music, and after that not even TV unless there's news.

AMANPOUR: Osama's religious devotion went beyond living a simple pious life. He had begun to believe it was his duty to prepare to one day fight for and defend Islam, Osama's training ground the desolate Saudi desert. The son of a multimillionaire was now preparing for a life without luxuries or even basic essentials, a life as a holy warrior.

BATARFI: I heard from his brothers that when they go there they sleep on the sand. There's no blanket if it's cold and, you know, like soldiers.

AMANPOUR: Batarfi had no desire to join Osama's army so the two friends began to drift apart.

BATARFI: I would prefer the beach. I was more romantic. You know I was thinking of love. He was thinking of love of God.

AMANPOUR: But how did Osama bin Laden's love of God become a mission to kill?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: (AUDIO GAP) King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

JAMAL KHALIFA: I am Jamal Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. The first time I met him in King Abdulaziz University in 1976.

AMANPOUR: The 21-year-old Khalifa and bin Laden became very close.

KHALIFA: He loved horses a lot, especially the Arabian horses.

AMANPOUR: When bin Laden would journey on horseback into the Saudi desert he would travel with few supplies, always testing himself perhaps in preparation for a different life.

KHALIFA: We have our dates with us in our pockets and water. That's it. We sleep on the sands.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden also took his children, seen here, into the desert subjecting them to the same regimen.

KHALIFA: So, at least the children would feel that sometimes they have to be tough.

AMANPOUR: Despite his wealth, bin Laden also insisted on few comforts at home.

BATARFI: I went to visit him and I noticed that the apartment was very bare. There were no pictures. The carpet was cheap. Things were, you know, I wouldn't live there myself.

KHALIFA: He likes to be very, very, very simple.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: In Hollywood terms, bin Laden has a great back story. My name is Peter Bergen. I met Osama bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan in March of 1997.

AMANPOUR: Peter Bergen, a CNN consultant, is the author of "The Osama bin Laden I know." This documentary is based in part on his groundbreaking reporting.

BERGEN: Here's the son of a billionaire who lives a very frugal, simple life. He's sleeping on a floor. He's not using air- conditioning, won't even drink cold water and I think this sort of simple life is one of the reasons that his followers find him attractive.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden may not have lived the lifestyle of a wealthy man but according to his close friend he did use his wealth to save the life of his son.

BATARFI: His first child needed some medical attention.

AMANPOUR: Batarfi was told that bin Laden took his son to the United States.

BATARFI: In Washington airport, Dulles Airport, people were surprised at the way he dressed, his wife dressed. Some of them were even taking photos and he was kind of joking about it. We were like in a zoo.

BERGEN: Undoubtedly, bin Laden took his son for medical treatment to a western country and it's either the United States or the United Kingdom. There's some kind of controversy about that. But this would have been one of the very rare occasions when bin Laden actually traveled to the west.

AMANPOUR: During this period while studying for his degree, bin Laden worked construction projects for his father's company.

KHALIFA: Osama always talk about his father all the time. Osama really loves his father a lot and always he's trying to imitate him in his business and in his work.

AMANPOUR: Construction worker, university student, husband, father, and survivalist, Osama bin Laden was leading one life while preparing for another. An heir to one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families he did not want to stand out at least not yet.

KHALIFA: He doesn't like really to be a leader, never put himself in a position to be a leader.

AMANPOUR: But that would soon change. Bin Laden was about to be swept up in a movement that would carry him from student to the leader of a holy war. It was a religious movement, one that would pit young Muslims against the establishment. It was called Sawa (ph) or the Islamic awakening.

KHALIFA: It was the Sawa. At that time it's all about religion and about how to practice Islam.

BERGEN: The Sawa was the Islamic awakening of the 1970s. It was particularly appealing to somebody like bin Laden who is already very religious because Islamic awakening suggests that we're going to create more just Islamic societies around the Middle East.

JAMAL KHASHOGGI, JOURNALIST: He come from a generation of angry Islamists who wanted to change the Muslim world. My name is Jamal Khashoggi. I met Osama bin Laden in 1987 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

AMANPOUR: Khashoggi was himself caught up in the awakening. As a Saudi journalist he spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and later in Sudan.

(on camera): How was Osama bin Laden influenced by the Muslim brotherhood?

KHASHOGGI: He started with the Muslim brotherhood in Saudi Arabia. He was very much influenced.

BERGEN: The Muslim brotherhood was born in Egypt and again and again bin Laden is influenced by Egyptian ideas, Egyptian political organizations and Egyptian people and they tend to move him in a more radical and militant direction over time.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This man, Syed Qutb, was an inspiration for the Muslim brotherhood. He was executed in 1966 for what many believe was a trumped up charge of attempting to overthrow the Egyptian government.

His book "Milestones" was must reading for jihadists and still is today. It challenges the long accepted belief that holy war should only be waged in response to an attack. Qutb justifies something new, holy war that attacks the enemy first.

BERGEN: All 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.

AMANPOUR: 1979 would be a critical year for the Islamic awakening. The Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran. Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy. Muslim militants around the world were electrified. That same year the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest of sites, became a battleground when militants seized it and the Saudi government sent in troops.

Osama bin Laden was appalled that such a holy place had been defiled. And then one month later the final blow. The Soviet Union, godless and communist, invaded Afghanistan, a Muslim country. It was an affront to Islam.

One year, three monumental events that would change bin Laden forever. The once shy, religious boy was about to answer the call to a violent jihad and he would never look back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: 1979, Afghanistan, Soviet troops invade an Islamic nation. A call for jihad against the infidels sounds throughout the Muslim world, a call raised by men like Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian cleric, charismatic and deeply spiritual. He is the man who would mentor and shape Osama bin Laden throughout much of the 1980s.

HUTAIFA AZZAM: My name is Hutaifa Azzam. I've been living with bin Laden for more than eight years continuously you could say.

AMANPOUR: Hutaifa is Abdullah Azzam's son. This is his first interview for western television.

AZZAM: My father was teaching Islamic and Arabic studies and Osama bin Laden was studying engineering at that time.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden was drawn to the influential cleric seen here in Afghanistan. He was the ideological force behind the call for jihad and he implored the young and impressionable Osama to follow him.

AZZAM: At the end of 1984, the end of summer, my father told him "You have to leave with me. I'm leaving to Pakistan and Afghanistan."

AMANPOUR: But bin Laden was hesitant to follow.

AZZAM: He said, "No. I cannot leave Saudi Arabia without having the permission of King Fahd."

AMANPOUR: At this time, bin Laden was still deeply loyal to his family with its strong ties to the ruling house of Saud but the king encouraged volunteers to go fight with the Afghans. Bin Laden responded. He made the move from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People call me Abdullah Anas. I remember I met Osama in 1984 in Abdullah Azzam's house in Islamabad.

AMANPOUR: Anas was one of many Arab Muslims recruited by Abdullah Azzam to wage jihad in Afghanistan. He is seen here with Azzam and two of his sons Ibrahim and Hutaifa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheikh Abdullah was the father figure of all of us. You can't imagine how he loved Osama bin Laden.

BERGEN: The picture you get of bin Laden at this point in his life he's shy, he's retiring, he's monosyllabic. People barely get a word out of him. And he's completely overshadowed by his mentor Abdullah Azzam, who is a larger than life charismatic figure and somebody who really had a father/son relationship with bin Laden.

AMANPOUR: I traveled here to the city of Peshawar, Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan to find out more about bin Laden and his mentor Abdullah Azzam. Peshawar is a bustling frontier town, the perfect gateway for smugglers, spies, mercenaries and Mujahadeen, those holy warriors who came to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can find the arms. You can buy Kalashnikov. You can sell it. It's an open area, completely open area.

AMANPOUR (on camera): It was in this neighborhood that Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam set up the headquarters of an organization they called the Services Bureau. It was to assist Muslim fighters heading into Afghanistan and also Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet Army.

(voice-over): The Services Bureau was run by Azzam. Osama bin Laden was the financier, donating some of his own fortune, and the money he collected from other wealthy Saudis.

(on camera): One of these houses, we're told, used to be a guest house, where the recruits would come before entering Afghanistan. They'd be given weapons and clothing, as well as military and ideological training. Bin Laden himself trained at one of the camps.

AZZAM: The training on weapons and how to use weapon, how to fight, how to join the battles. Together we were with bin Laden, yes.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bin Laden's time in the shadow of his mentor, Abdullah Azzam, would be short-lived. No longer content to merely fund the fight, bin Laden yearned to join it. His countless hours and days in the harsh Saudi desert without shelter and with few provisions had prepared him for this moment. It was always his belief that he was destined to be a holy warrior.

BERGEN: I think he's always modeled himself on the Prophet Mohammed and the Prophet Mohammed was not only a great religious figure but was also somebody who personally battled the infidels. And so, for bin Laden, it would be important to continue in the Prophet Mohammed's footsteps.

AMANPOUR: For bin Laden the early days on the battlefield were terrifying.

AZZAM: When bin Laden used to hear the explosions, he used to jump and he used to run away. I still remember that me and my elder and younger brother, we used to laugh.

AMANPOUR: But several years on the battlefield would harden bin Laden. Fear gave way to ambition. Mohammed bin Laden's shy and reticent young son, Osama, once reluctant to lead, was now ready to command his own all-Arab army in Afghanistan.

ABDULLAH ANAS, FORMER ARAB FIGHTER: Osama started to think about governing all Arabs, as much as he can and put them in one camp, in one front.

AMANPOUR: His mentor adamantly opposed this idea. It was the beginning of a rift that would never heal.

AZZAM: Bin Laden went and he built up his own camps. He built up his own front and he started doing his own battles. My father doesn't want Arab to work separately and that's what bin Laden did in 1987.

BERGEN: Bin Laden decided to create this all Arab army because the young Arabs he was recruiting were willing to martyr themselves, were willing to take incredible personal risk and it was this group of people that bin Laden molded to take on the Soviets directly.

AMANPOUR: Their first test was the battle of Jaji in the Spring of 1987. Azzam fought alongside bin Laden, who was suffering from low blood pressure in the thin, mountain air.

AZZAM: It was a very, very hard battle. And he joined the battle while he was ill and he was having this low pressure and my father told him to take respite, he refuses. And he joined the battle for more than four days.

AMANPOUR: The Russians fell back. Jaji was the first victory for bin Laden's Arab army.

BERGEN: It was not a particularly significant moment in the Afghan war. But from a psychological point of view, it was really the beginning of, sort of, bin Laden's almost mythic persona, because a group of Arabs had held off the Soviets. It got a lot of play in the Middle East.

AMANPOUR: The once reticent and terrified bin Laden was now hailed as a fearless leader, a hero on the front lines of Jihad.

AZZAM: He's brave, and he's ready to give his life. He's not a coward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I visited the sight of that battle with him in Jaji.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden invited journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Afghanistan. It was a bit of PR in his new campaign to become Osama, the general. The beginning of his media strategy to draw attention to himself, and his message, a skill he would come to perfect. Khashoggi took this picture, he says the first one ever published of bin Laden.

(on camera): So far Osama, Jaji was a recruiting tool.

KHASHOGGI: It was a recruiting tool. It was the start of having an independent front, where he become the Amir, the leader of those Arab mujahedeen who are guarded around him.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): In 1988, the Soviets, worn down and demoralized, began to withdraw from Afghanistan. And bin Laden, now battle-hardened, returned to Peshawar, a holy warrior, without a war. But this man would soon change that, Ayman al Zawahiri.

AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI, BIN LADEN FOLLOWER: We are Muslims who is believe in their religion.

AMANPOUR: A radical Egyptian who would give bin Laden the enemy he was looking for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Arab fighters, all smiles, after the battle of Jaji. They made their stand. The Soviets, the infidels, were repelled. In 1988, Osama bin Laden emerged the hero, his exploits on this Afghan battlefield were immortalized in Jihad magazine, published by bin Laden himself and his long-time mentor, Abdullah Azzam. The battle of Jaji made bin Laden, and he was happy to exploit his new found fame.

AZZAM: Everybody said that he won the battle in Jaji. Newspapers, magazines, everybody is talking about it. He became a hero.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden's soaring confidence and abundant wealth would soon attract those looking to exploit this rising star, militants like Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor with plans to separate bin Laden from his money, and from his mentor, Abdullah Azzam.

AZZAM: The Egyptian told him that if you come, we will make you the leader, so we can build up our own organization. We can give you, we call it Amir, we can give you the leader of that organization.

AMANPOUR: Zawahiri had spent three years in Egypt's notorious prisons for his Jihadist activities.

ZAWAHIRI: We want to speak to the whole world.

AMANPOUR: Embittered after years of torture at the hands of the Egyptian government, Zawahiri was determined to overthrow the secular regimes of the Middle East. His was not a battle for a peace of land. He wanted an Islamic world without borders.

ZAWAHIRI: We are Muslims. We are Muslims who believe in their religion.

AMANPOUR: But Azzam disapproved of Muslims fighting Muslims. For him, Holy War was about defending Muslim lands against the infidels. Two divergent influences, one old, one new. This is how bin Laden's transformation began, from warrior to extremist.

BERGEN: Bin Laden was increasingly being influenced by Egyptian militants around in his cycle who were saying let's overthrow all of these secular governments in the Middle East, and Abdullah Azzam was opposed to that because he didn't want to be part of anything that pitted Muslims against Muslims.

AMANPOUR: Armed with a radical, new ideology, bin Laden was ready to step out from behind Azzam, ready to lead his army on to the next war.

(on camera): And that army would take shape here, in Peshawar, Pakistan, in this neighborhood, where Osama bin Laden lived. Meetings were held, plans were made. This is where al Qaeda was born.

(voice-over): And these are the actual minutes of those first meetings, a written record of the creation of an organization called al Qaeda, or the base. These notes obtained by CNN, are seen here for the first time on television.

BERGEN: When al Qaeda was founded, there was no thought of attacking the United States. That would come much, much later. The program was really about training people for jihads outside Afghanistan.

AMANPOUR: The minutes list bin Laden and the other attendees. There were strict requirements to join al Qaeda, some surprising ones. They must, for example, have good manners, and good references, and they must recite an oath to listen and obey the superiors. In al Qaeda's structure and flow chart, bin Laden showed that he was his father's son.

BERGEN: Bin Laden comes out of a business background. His father was one of the most successful businessman in the Middle East. Bin Laden himself studied at the university so he modeled al Qaeda in a rather sort of business model. He was sort of the CEO, there committees for military affairs, religious affairs, financial fairs and media affairs.

AMANPOUR: Al Qaeda made members sign an employment contract. There was a benefits package, vacations home, complete with round-trip airline tickets. Vacation requests had to be submitted two and a half months before the travel date.

Recruits were soon put to the test. In February, 1989, the Soviets in the last stages of their withdrawal left behind a puppet Afghan communist government. For Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, victory in Afghanistan was not yet complete. They joined the battle against the Afghan communists in Jalalabad, near the Pakistan border.

EDWARD GIRARDET, BRITISH JOURNALIST: My name is Edward Girardet and I first met Osama bin Laden in 1989 in Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

AMANPOUR: Girardet, a British journalist was covering the battle of Jalalabad. He remembers a chance but chilling encounter with bin Laden during the fighting.

GIRARDET: We arrived at the front line and suddenly this very tall Arab came up to me, walked up and said, "You know, what are you doing here?" And he said, "This is the jihad and you've absolutely no right to be here and you should leave."

AMANPOUR: Girardet had never heard of bin Laden, but for the next 45 minutes, the mysterious Arab warrior spoke in English. Religion was the topic of discussion.

GIRARDET: And then as our conversation came to an end, I reached out my hand to bid good-bye and he said, "I can't shake your hand." And as I turned away, he said, "If I see you again, I'll kill you."

AMANPOUR: On the battlefield in Jalalabad, bin Laden was a dismal failure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost more than 45 kilometers because of his mistake.

AMANPOUR: And he lost many soldiers, among those in the militant community, like Egyptian Osama Rushdi, bin Laden's reputation took a hit.

OSAMA RUSHDI, FORMER EGYPTIAN MILITANT (voice-over): Lots of people criticized Osama bin Laden because he led the Arab fighters into the battle for Jalalabad in a very disorganized way. More than 300 of them were killed.

AMANPOUR: Shortly after the battle, bin Laden returned home to Saudi Arabia

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: My name is Turki al-Faisal. I met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 1985.

AMANPOUR: Prince Turki al-Faisal was the head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service. He told me that in 1990, bin Laden offered up his army to drive out the communists from neighboring Yemen, but the Saudis didn't take him seriously.

(on camera): What was your response when he said that he wanted to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My response to him was that this is not the right time, and that military conflict in the south Yemen was not advisable at that time.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Later that year, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, bin Laden, once again, offered his troops to the Saudis.

AL-FAISAL: He asked other officials in the kingdom for the opportunity, again, to bring his Mujahedin, as he called them, to drive out Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and again, he was told that was not the right thing to do.

AMANPOUR: Instead, the Saudis turned to the West for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.

AMANPOUR: Reporter: The U.S. led a multinational coalition with hundreds of thousands of American troops, in the land of the two holiest places, Mecca and Medina. To bin Laden, it was sacrilege. He began to voice his outrage. When the Saudis tried to muzzle him, bin Laden fled the kingdom. A man without a country, a man on the run, a man racing to a point of no return, September 11, 2001.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Across from Saudi Arabia, across the Red Sea, lies the nation of Sudan. Its capital, Khartoum, an ancient African crossroad. It was here in the early 1990s that a radical Muslim government hell- bent on creating a pure Islamist state opened its doors to bin Laden and al Qaeda.

BERGEN: 1991, '92, bin Laden's a man without a country and he decides to go to Sudan, because there is a government which has recently come into power, which is sympathetic to his view and he believes that he can help create some kind of Islamic utopia.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): An Islamic utopia that bin Laden set out to build from this, his new home in Khartoum. Here, he quickly started an array of businesses. Bin Laden wasn't looking to foster the persona of an international terrorist.

SCOTT MACLEOD, CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME MAGAZINE": He wanted to show that he was a businessman, and he was a legitimate businessman.

My name is Scott Macleod. I met Osama bin Laden in Sudan in 1996.

It struck me that he was very calm, serene, almost like a holy man.

AMANPOUR: Though he'd been forced to flee Saudi Arabia for speaking out against the government, and U.S. troops in the Kingdom, in the early '90s, there were very few in U.S. law enforcement who knew of Osama bin Laden.

DAN COLEMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: At that point in time, particularly from the FBI, he hadn't attracted a great deal of attention.

AMANPOUR: That would change. At 12:18 p.m. on February 26th, 1993, the World Trade Center, an icon of American economic power, was attacked by a powerful truck bomb. The nation was in shock as it watched live coverage of the chaos around the twin towers. For years, Americans had watched news footage of the aftermath of terrorism abroad, but this was different. This was an attack on the homeland. The manhunts that followed would eventually lead to the arrests and convictions of two men with suspected links to bin Laden, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing. BERGEN: Bin Laden has denied knowing Ramzi Yousef but in the larger sense, bin Laden really was responsible because Ramzi Yousef had trained at an al Qaeda training camp and Ramzi Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would become the guy who went to bin Laden in 1996 with the beginnings of what would turn out to be the plan for 9/11 itself.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden may deny knowing Ramzi Yousef, but there is no denying the influence of Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Egyptian cleric who preached at this Jersey City mosque, across from the World Trade Center. Rahman, also known as the blind Sheikh, was the spiritual guide of the trade center bombers, and would ultimately become the theological force behind al Qaeda.

BERGEN: To the extent that there is a spiritual guide to al Qaeda, I think it's Sheikh Rahman, because he is the spiritual influence of the Egyptians in al Qaeda and the Egyptians are so important for the group ideologically and also personally.

AMANPOUR: Bin Laden's relationship with the Egyptian militants surrounding him, in particular, Ayman al Zawahiri, intensified in Sudan. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi met with bin Laden a number of times during this period.

KHASHOGGI: I felt the presence of the Egyptian radicals. They were there, physically they were there. They would not sit with me. We were in his garden, sitting on the floor, talking, when somebody come and whispers something in his ear. I couldn't comprehend what they were saying but I picked up the Egyptians slang there. They were there.

AMANPOUR (on camera): And describe how he was changing them. And what he was doing.

KHASHOGGI: There was two Osamas in Sudan. At the beginning there was a radical on, an angry one, angry at his government, who was trying to play a political role, who was trying to push for change, revolutionary-type change in Saudi Arabia. A year later, particularly in 1995, I saw a more subdued Osama, who began to speak more moderately. He even regretted some of the statements he put out against his government, some radical positions he did, and he seemed to me as he wants to go back. But I think he had a fight within, between the way he was brought up as a moderate Muslim and the predicament he found himself in allied with radical Egyptians, and he couldn't choose.

AMANPOUR: He couldn't choose, says Khashoggi, so he let events choose for him. By 1995, the Saudi government had frozen bin Laden's assets, and stripped him of his citizenship. His family had publicly disowned him. Privately, however, there were attempts to bring him back into the fold.

Bin Laden let his true feelings be known in this, an open letter to King Fahd. In it, he condemned the Saudi Royal Family, calling them corrupt. He also called for a campaign of attacks to drive U.S. forces out of the Kingdom. Bin Laden's words were heard. Not long after his decree, a terrorist car bomb ripped through a joint U.S./Saudi military facility in Riyadh, killing five Americans.

AL-FAISAL: A car bomb exploded in front of the National Guard training center in Riyadh, and the perpetrators were captured, and they said that they had been inspired by bin Laden.

AMANPOUR: The Saudi Royal Family and the Clinton administration had seen enough. Both stepped up pressure on the Sudanese government to expel bin Laden, who by this time was out of money and knew his days were numbered in Khartoum. He'd already survived at least one assassination attempt by rival extremists.

ANAS: I was sitting in another guest house in Khartoum, when I heard after sunset that there is a clash, and the attack of the guest house of Osama, in order to kill him.

AMANPOUR: Under fire, and feeling the heat, Osama bin Laden and his followers take flight again. In May of 1996, bin Laden returns to where his holy war began, the troubled lands that would spawn the unthinkable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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