Business Insider

This Mind-Boggling Profile of Osama Bin Laden Came out Exactly 20 Years Ago Today

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

This article from Dec. 6, 1993, by Robert Fisk of The Independent, titled, “Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace,” is stunning to consider 20 years later.

Osama bin Laden, fresh off the U.S.-backed mujahideen’s victory over Russia in 1989, flew his men, materials and money down to Sudan, ostensibly to start public works projects. When asked if they were militant training camps, the “Saudi entrepreneur” and future leader of al Qaeda told Fisk: “I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn’t possibly do this job.”

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The piece is fascinating because it is a positive profile of a man who would become a global terrorist mastermind.

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Some key lines:

“OSAMA Bin Laden sat in his gold- fringed robe, guarded by the loyal Arab mujahedin …”

“With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, Mr Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend.”

“He is a shy man. …  married - with four wives - but wary of the press.”

“Was it not a little bit anti-climactic for them, I asked, to fight the Russians and end up road-building in Sudan?” 

Bin Laden’s work in Sudan purportedly involved overseeing a 500-mile highway from Khartoum to Port Sudan. Fisk reported that “Bin Laden has brought the very construction equipment that he used only five years ago to build the guerrilla trails of Afghanistan.”

See also: How Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette Describes the Bin Laden Raid

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