The recently deceased British journalist Robert Fisk, who was the Middle East correspondent for UK daily The Independent interviewed former al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden on three occasions.
He reported the interviews in articles published by The Independent on 6 December 1993, 10 July 1996, and 22 March 1997.
Osama had become the mujahedin darling of the Afghan war in the 1990s, according to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an international policy organisation.
According to the CEP, the media-savvy former al-Qaeda leader agreed to conduct interviews with numerous Western journalists during that time. Eventually, his interviews with journalists became platforms for him to communicate his message of jihad to the masses around the world.
Fisk was the first western journalist to interview Osama bin Laden.
1993: "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace"
Osama bin Laden gave his first interview to the Independent newspaper's Robert Fisk in 1993.
The interview was titled, "Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace," and related to bin Laden and his recruited mujahideen's road building in Sudan overseeing construction and agricultural projects.
In his article, Fisk wrote that bin Laden denied that he had any ambitions for leading a global jihad. Instead, he claimed that Arab media and Western embassies were falsely reporting that his troops from the Afghan war were preparing for their next battles in Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt.
Bin Laden 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."
Also during Fisk's first interview in 1993, he wrote of Osama bin Laden: "With his high cheekbones, narrow eyes and long brown robe, Mr Bin Laden looks every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend. Chadored children danced in front of him, preachers acknowledged his wisdom" while noting that he was accused of "training for further jihad wars".
1996: Interviewing the West's enemy
In 1996 Fisk interviewed Osama Bin Laden again. At that time, Bin Laden had just been exiled from Sudan and was back in Afghanistan.
There, he was also no longer just a construction engineer and agriculturalist, but already an enemy of the United States, Europe, and Arab governments, especially Saudi Arabia.
The interview was conducted 10 days after a bombing in al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US soldiers.
While the responsibility for that attack has been attributed to both al-Qaeda and Iran, Bin Laden told Fisk: "This doesn't mean declaring war against the West and Western people but against the American regime which is against every American…The explosion in al-Khobar did not come as a direct reaction to the American occupation, but as a result of American behavior against Muslims, its support of Jews in Palestine, and of the massacres of Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon."
During one of Fisk's interviews with Bin Laden, Fisk noted an attempt by Bin Laden to convert him. Bin Laden said; "Mr Robert, one of our brothers had a dream...that you were a spiritual person ... this means you are a true Muslim". Fisk replied: "Sheikh Osama, I am not a Muslim. I am a journalist whose task is to tell the truth".
Bin Laden replied: "If you tell the truth that means you are a good Muslim".
1997: Fisk's last interview with bin Laden
The famed journalist's final interview with the Al-Qaeda leader took place on 22 March, 1997.
"We are still at the beginning of our military action against the American forces," Osama said during the interview.
During the final interview in 1997, bin Laden said he sought God's help "to turn America into a shadow of itself."