Following are excerpts from an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd Al-Bari Atwan, which aired on BBC Arabic TV and was posted on the Internet on February 16, 2013:
Abd Al-Bari Atwan: "For me, Sheik Osama Bin Laden is a great man. I hold this great man in esteem. I spent three days with him in a cave in Tora Bora. This was before 9/11 and before the bombing of the [U.S.] embassies. I saw something completely different from what later happened.
"In our village, we used to call any teacher of religion 'sheik,' in Saudi Arabia and the in the Gulf... Incidentally, one of the emirs of the Gulf told me that he would give me million if I stopped calling [Bin Laden] 'Sheik.' I said to him: Get your millions ready. I’ll do it tonight, on Al-Jazeera TV. Then I said on purpose 'SHEIK Osama Bin Laden.' This is who I am, and they can all go to hell.
"The killing of 3,000 innocent people is, of course, a deplorable act. However, the country that has caused us, in this region, the most damage is the U.S. This is what I believe. The U.S. destroyed Iraq, and it supports Israel, which is occupying our lands.
"The fact is that no one has caused more damage to the U.S. than Al-Qaeda. Like it or not, this is the truth. So far Al-Qaeda has cost the U.S. more than $850 billion, in addition to the 4,000 soldiers who were killed, and the 30,000 who were injured."