“Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city. That morning, while eating a meal of meat and olives, he gave an interview to Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who was writing his biography. He defended the attacks on New York and Washington, saying, “America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal.” Six months later, when I met Mir in Pakistan, he told me that the Al Qaeda leader had, on that day, appeared to be in remarkably good spirits.”
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