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Editors note: Through surrogates in Austria, Portugal, Karachi and other locations, the BEAST has been negotiating the terms of this exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden since March of this year. Among other things, we had to send a reporter who was comfortable filing from a remote location, and also with whom—how should we put this?—we were willing to, shall we say, part.

In a cave along the Pakistani-Afghani border, Matt Taibbi recently sat down with the man who brought 9/11 to the United States, and the long scary beard back to the Middle East.


BEAST: GOOD MORNING. Thanks for sitting down with me.

OBL: No problem. Did you bring the latest issue of Essence?

BEAST: Right here.

OBL: Thanks.

BEAST: That's okay. So, did you really have plans to blow up the Citicorp building?

OBL: Refresh my memory.

BEAST: The Citicorp building. In New York. There were new reports you planned to blow it up.

OBL: (squinting) I'm trying to get a picture.

BEAST: The big white one in the 50s. Looks like a giant tee marker.

Oh, right. Well, probably we were, yes. But nothing on the front burner.

BEAST: Is there a particular reason that the United States announced a terror alert about it and about several other locations this week?

OBL: Not that I know of. But I tend not to spend a lot of time worrying about where people like your Mr. Ridge get their information.

BEAST: You don't even want to speculate?

OBL: I couldn't possibly guess. Perhaps he has headaches and his neighbor Sam's German shepherd talks to him at night.

BEAST: (laughing) I hadn't thought of that one.

OBL: Neither had I, until just now. But I like it. Maybe I'll use it in my next speech.

BEAST: Are you planning a major act of terror in the United States in the near future?

OBL: That depends. Honestly, we haven't decided who we want as your president yet. Both have pluses and minuses.

BEAST: How's that?

OBL: Bush we can count on to go stumbling around the planet with his dick in his hand, giving us a whole bunch of troops to shoot at. He'll divide the entire world and turn this whole thing into a referendum not just on us, but on the United States. On the other hand, I just love that Kerry. We have a guard here who does a great impersonation.

BEAST: Can you do one?

OBL: I try, but it comes out sounding like Katharine Hepburn. I do a pretty good Michael Madsen, though.

BEAST: Did you like Kill Bill?

OBL: I'm thinking more of Species. Hell of a movie. You got some great-looking broads over there.

BEAST: Since we're on the subject of movies, what did you think of Fahrenheit 9/11?

OBL: You people are a strange nation. You think everything in the world belongs to you. If there's oil in Saudi Arabia, it's yours and we're just watching it for you. Then we do something like blow up the World Trade Center, and a few years later you show all these ghastly pictures and make it seem like the whole thing was George Bush's fault. You can't even let other people have credit for something. It's like a sickness with you.

BEAST: What is it about Americans that makes you so bent on killing us?

OBL: I… I hate you for your freedom.

BEAST: Really?

OBL: (laughs) No, I'm just fucking with you. Mainly we hate you because you support Israel and because you maintain army bases in the Arabian peninsula. But also—six dollars for a cup of coffee? What the hell is wrong with you people?

BEAST: Well, we're not asking you to pay it.

OBL: Not yet.

BEAST: Right. (flipping through notebook) Okay. Since 9/11, how has your life changed? Do people come up to you on the street now and say, "Hey, aren't you Osama bin Laden?"

OBL: No. What they say is, "Sir, we found this one sneaking around in sector four. Should we kill him?" That kind of thing.

BEAST: What's the best thing about being the scourge of Western civilization?

OBL: The food. The prosthetic limbs. Getting high and making scary videotapes to send to Al Jazeera. Inventing one's own fucked-up moral calculus and forcing others to live by it. Weaving a tangled conspiratorial web. The skiing. The caves full of stinky man-smell. Playing your lieutenants against each other to solidify your position. Rooting out leakers and torturing them in front of the men. The feeling of being close to God and doing the right thing. All of these things and more. But the absolute best thing is not having to be just another bourgeois real estate dealer with a big nose in Saudi Arabia, in a family full of them. I needed to have something of my own. I didn't want to have to go through life hearing people say, "Which one?" when the name bin Laden was mentioned.

BEAST: Do you ever think to yourself, "I don't need this pressure. Maybe I should just give all of this up and teach high school?"

OBL: All the time. But I think that once you've been involved in something like this, you'll always be looking for that adrenaline rush. I don't think I could give up being a terrorist now. Among other things, it would force me to confront the enormity of my moral choices. Once you start killing large numbers of people, you pretty much can't stop.

BEAST: Isn't this conflict between the West and radical Islam just an extension of the same religious crusades that have been going on for about the past 1000 years?

OBL: That's the way we see it.

BEAST: Isn't that…silly?

OBL: I'm sorry? My English.

BEAST: Silly. Uh… comical, without being noble.

OBL: Umm…

BEAST: Like Pauly Shore.

OBL: Oh. Yes, of course it is silly.

BEAST: Then why do it?

OBL: Because the world is silly. It must be dominated by silly people. And I am a very silly person.

BEAST: Is George Bush silly?

OBL: Sometimes I lie awake at night and worry that he is sillier than I am.

BEAST: Isn't that a good thing, from our point of view?

OBL: I don't know. Probably.

BEAST: Did you have anything to do with Bucky Dent in 1978?

OBL: No. That was Baader-Meinhof.



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