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.
No problem. Did you bring the latest issue of Essence?
BEAST: Right here.
BEAST: That's okay. So, did you really have plans to blow up the Citicorp
Refresh my memory.
BEAST: The Citicorp building. In New York. There were new reports you planned
to blow it up.
(squinting) I'm trying to get a picture.
BEAST: The big white one in the 50s. Looks like a giant tee marker.
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?
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?
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.
Neither had I, until just now. But I like it. Maybe I'll use it in my
BEAST: Are you planning a major act of terror in the United States in the
That depends. Honestly, we haven't decided who we want as your president
yet. Both have pluses and minuses.
BEAST: How's that?
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?
I try, but it comes out sounding like Katharine Hepburn. I do a pretty
good Michael Madsen, though.
BEAST: Did you like Kill Bill?
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
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
BEAST: What is it about Americans that makes you so bent on killing us?
I… I hate you for your freedom.
(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.
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?"
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?
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
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?"
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?
That's the way we see it.
BEAST: Isn't that…silly?
I'm sorry? My English.
BEAST: Silly. Uh… comical, without being noble.
BEAST: Like Pauly Shore.
Oh. Yes, of course it is silly.
BEAST: Then why do it?
Because the world is silly. It must be dominated by silly people. And
I am a very silly person.
BEAST: Is George Bush silly?
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?
I don't know. Probably.
BEAST: Did you have anything to do with Bucky Dent in 1978?
No. That was Baader-Meinhof.