That headline is not a joke. This is the Independent’s actual headline, which to their dubious credit, they have not changed in all these years. “Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace: The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan. Robert Fisk met him in Almatig.”
I’m still looking for the one where Robert Fisk interviews Hitler and discusses his plans to attend a Bar Mitzvah
I may just be exaggerating a little bit by calling The Independent and Robert Fisk “mainstream”, but they’re mainstream enough in the UK left. But the same people who think Robert Fisk is a serious authority also think that Bush should have seen September 11 coming. Go figure.
When you read this, imagine how we will look back on all the Arab Spring stories about Egyptian elections and Syrian rebels a decade from now.
Outside Sudan, Mr Bin Laden is not regarded with quite such high esteem. The Egyptian press claims he brought hundreds of former Arab fighters back to Sudan from Afghanistan, while the Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ‘Afghans’ whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
Mr Bin Laden is well aware of this. ‘The rubbish of the media and the embassies,’ he calls it. ‘I am a construction engineer and an agriculturalist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn’t possibly do this job.’
This same year, Bin Laden would plan attacks on the US in Somalia. Three years later he would issue a fatwa officially declaring war on America. Operation Bojinka planning, which involved, among other things, the assassination of Pope John Paul II, was underway while Bin Laden was talking to Fisk.
When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written, Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin – and the indirect result of his training and assistance – may turn out to be a turning- point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism;
More so than Fisk could have imagined.