is a bitter and hostile country where countless people perish under a
relentless desert sun. A land of terrorists and drug dealers, a land of
But it also a land of spectacular panoramas and delightful people.
One such delightful person is Osama bin Laden.
Osama is one of the many sons of the Shah of Saudi Arabia. He started out life
with a 300 million dollar inheritance.
I visited Osama in his secret desert hideaway in Afghanistan.
I found the bearded cleric to be calm and kind. He offered me delicious
dried dates and pistachios and as we shared the simple meal in his cave,
he explained his philosophy. "Basically," said Osama, "I see myself as a
great lover of both men and women." Here he paused to invoke the name of
his God, Allah.
"With all due respect," I said, "People claim you are the mastermind
behind the terrorist attack on the United States of America that killed
more innocent people than were lost at Pearl Harbor and on the Titanic.
It was on CNN."
"I am a poor desert wanderer who loves all mankind. I do not even get
CNN. What are you referring to?"
"The World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Carried out by suicide
"News to me. I love the America flag and the country for which it
stands," said Osama. "Regrettably some of the infidels in Washington did
not like my father and now seek to discredit me, a humble servant of
Mohammed. They spread horrible stories about this simple desert cleric.
They even say I kill people."
"Mohammed taught it is a terrible sin to take an innocent human life," I
"I agree. I would never harm another's life."
"But the US State department claims you earn millions through arms
trading, opium production and terrorist activities. And because of what
you have done thousands of people are dead."
"That is nonsense." He was about to continue when an out-of-breath
runner, wearing only a pair of dusty shorts, appeared at the entrance to
Osama listened as the runner said something in his ear, then my host
whispered into the runner's ear.
The runner nodded, then raced to the edge of a nearby cliff and threw
himself from it. A moment later we heard his body thud into the ground,
five hundred felt below us.
"My God," I said, "What was that all about?"
"Please," said, Osama, "do not blaspheme in my land. The runner brought
word that a virgin who wishes to meet me will be late."
"But why did the man kill himself?" I asked.
"No idea. I asked him to arrange for me to see the 10-year-old at 8
tonight. He failed me. The meeting will not be until 8:15."
"And he killed himself over fifteen minutes?" I asked.
"It may seem tragic," said Osama. "But the runner is happy now. He is in
paradise where twenty virgins will surrender themselves to him and he
shall live forever at Mohammed's side."
"Is that what you whispered in his ear?" I asked.
"You must have imagining things," said the gentle desert cleric. "I said
nothing to him. Pass the pistachios. And peace be with you, my brother."
To read a note to the followers of Osama bin
Laden, please click here.
To read dozens of Jaron's columns, please go here.
2001 Jaron Summers