It was a rainy November day in the year 1996 when we visited Maulawi Khalis colony in Jalalabad to meet Sheikh Osama bin Laden in his quarters. Our meeting with the Sheikh was arranged by his close associate Abu Khabab al Misri, who was described as the chemical expert of the Al Qaeda organization by the Americans and was later martyred in a drone strike in the August of 2008 in South Waziristan.
Osama bin Laden has only recently arrived to Afghanistan from Sudan and was living at the private building of Engineer Mahmood in Nangarhar under the guidance of the late Maulawi Younus Khalis Baba.
This structure was surrounded by a lot of other buildings where the close associates as well as bodyguards of Osama lived.
We reached his quarters at a time when they had gathered for Friday prayers in a Mosque based inside the building. Mustafa Abul Yazid, who was appointed as the military chief of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the year 2007 and was martyred in Waziristan in a drone strike in 2010 was giving the Khutba of the Friday prayers.
About a day earlier, the Taliban in Kabul had officially announced the presence of Osama bin Laden in the areas controlled by them therefore it was the first time that they used loud speakers for the Friday Khutba and prayers.
We offered our prayers behind Abu Muhammad al Misri and then proceeded towards the guest house where we were then joined by Osama and his first deputy, Abu Hafs al Misir (Muhammad ‘Atif).
I had never met Osama however Abu Khabab al Misri identified the foremost as Sheikh and the other as Abu Hafs al Misir from afar.
We began lunch after a formal initial introduction. Besides Osama and Abu Hafs, a few of their bodyguards also joined us for lunch. Even though food was not up to the standard of a ceremonial occasion but due to it being late on the one hand and extremely delicious on the other therefore it was well eaten and enjoyed by both the guests and the household.
As we ate, Osama talked about the great lengths and difficulties Afghans go to in order to take care of their guests and greatly praised this attribute. Tea was served after lunch in accordance with Afghan culture and the Sheikh began his speech. He began his formal talk at the start of tea as he was well acquainted with the culture of the Afghans.
Sheikh Osama began by asking me to elaborate on the message of Taliban given in his support. I told him that the Taliban announced his presence and declared support for him in areas under their control to the media during a press conference yesterday.
The Sheikh was delighted with this news and then related the story of what the president of Sudan, Omar Bashir, had told him while expelling him under the pressure of America.
He repeatedly praised and gave thanks to the Taliban and the Mujahideen of Khalis Baba for honoring their guests and for giving him special assistance and said that Afghans are a nation who have little competition when its comes to Islamic valor.
He talked with a very soft tone and gave me a lot of information about his Jihadi methodology in this calm meeting.
He started off by talking about his studies of economics in Malik Faisal University in Saudi Arabia; then his links to the Muslim Brotherhood organization in the initial stages of his political life; his participation in Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan; the victory of Mujahideen and the collapse of communism were systematically described one after the other.
He followed this up by talking a great length about the destructive plots of America hatched against Islam after the defeat of communism and about defending the Islamic world by combating such plots. At that time, no gestures were given about such a big military confrontation with American but rather most of his talk expounded on how the Muslims must become aware of this point and think about how to free themselves from these western conspiracies.
He talked on this subject until the call for Asr prayer was given. Then we headed to the same mosque together, prayed in congregation and walked back to the gate of the guest house. There we took leave from him and then abu Hafs escorted us to the outer door where we also took leave from him and headed towards Jalalabad city.
6 years later from that day, in August of 2001, we had our last meeting in Kandahar. This time we met in his house which was located in Lo Wiyala area of Kandahar city.
A lot of difference could be noticed in the military state and talks of Osama bin Laden this time around as compared to the previous. From his talks and actions, one took the impression as if he was physically standing in the battle field against America. A detailed geographical map was hung in his private guesthouse. The borders of all those countries that once fell under the rule of Ottoman Empire were highlighted. Osama bin Laden said while indicating towards the mentioned map that this entire region was once a united Islamic Caliphat however it was distributed into various countries in 1915-1916 under the colonial Sykes-Picot treaty. He said that the Muslims must work to bring together this fragmented region and establish an Islamic Caliphate on it.
This time the Sheikh was joined by his second deputy, Ayman az Zawahiri, who would interrupt his talk from time to time for endorsement.
A month after this meeting, the bloody events of September took place which gave a practical side to the confrontation between Sheikh Osama and America and at the same time, it also brought about the excuse of bringing down the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Ten years after those bloody events, America finally managed to martyr Sheikh Osama in a military strike in the city of Abbottabad and in doing so, ended one chapter of the ongoing confrontation between Osama and America.
It has now been a full year since Osama bin Laden was martyred however the anxiety brought about by the confrontation and felt by the Americans inside and outside America is still the same. Outside America, warning bells are ringing inside the American embassy in Kabul on the first day of the anniversary of martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden while the warning meters inside America are being kept at an all time high.
If the problem was in fact between the confrontation of Osama and America then that was solved a year ago however if this confrontation was an excuse for occupying Afghanistan and persecuting its people then I believe that it will not be solved for many years to come and in the end, the fate of the United States shall be the same as that of the former Soviet Union.