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1outofbillion is in the house.
Welcome to Incognito back to school
Today I’m gonna tell you about my life-changing experience.
How I met a man who’s the only person who
interviewed Osama bin Laden after 9/11.
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Moving on!
I’m 1outofbillion – an undercover journalist.
Different identities, one thing in common – the art to lie.
I’ve told over ar hundred stories and now it’s time to tell mine
A tiny, tiny look at the background.
I was a journalism student.
UNESCO Press Freedom Day was happening.
It’s an event where the coolest and toughest
journalists from all around the world gather
together and talk about hot topics.
I and a few other young journalists from all
over the world were invited to participate
in this event, which happened for three days.
I had to write articles about the event and
the people who were there.
There was this improvised newspaper which
came out the next morning for the people attending
this event.
In the early morning of second-day
editor tells me that there is this guy who
has interviewed Osama bin Laden.
I thought – cool.
I want to talk to him.
Got his phone number, but the phone was off.
Couldn’t find him anywhere in the building,
no one knew where he was.
With little hope, I decided to write him an
It’s the last method you try..
Because not too many people like to be interviewed and via e-mail, it’s more likely that someone
will refuse or just ignore your message.
But I had to try
I basically wrote who I am and that I want
to meet him to write an article.
Sent the email and started wondering about
my plan B.
If he doesn’t respond – what should I write
You’ve got mail!
I check my mail.
It’s from him.
I will come out in lobby within 10 minutes
I only knew that this guy he has interviewed
Osama bin Laden.
That’s it.
I had only 5 minutes to do some “research”
on him and to figure out how I’m gonna write
the story.
Find stories focus and angle.
So I started googling. Hamid Mir
That guy is a star!
He’s talked to bin Laden, he’s been shot,
he has more twitter followers than my countries
Of course, I wasted all my “5 minutes of
research” on panicking and now was the time
to go to meet him.
And there he was standing.
I was like “hjellow.
I’m 1outofbillion.”
That’s me interviewing Hamid.
Hamid was super friendly and talked to me
like an equal.
This little detail makes me respect him even
more now.
So after a few words, I felt really comfortable
and we started talking.
I heard many interesting details about his
life and experience with bin Laden.
And I’m going to share some of it with you.
So it turns out he has interviewed Osama bin Laden
more than once.
But he became famous as the first journalist
who interviewed bin Laden after 9/11 terrorist
Hamid describes bin Laden as a human with
two completely different sides.
The first time he interviewed Osama was in
Back then bin Laden wasn’t the worlds most
wanted man, but he had already started his
“terrorist career”.
Before the interview, Hamid was asked to take
off his clothes and was told that he will
be strip-searched.
Hamid refused and started arguing.
It took a while, but the strip search had
to be done anyway.
When he walked in the room Osama bin Laden
apologized to Hamid about the strip search.
It turns out that Osama, in face to face communication,
was very polite.
He always worried about his guests and wanted to serve the best food on the table.
His other side was the side we heard about
on the tv.
Regular terrorist attacks, innocent deaths
and huge influence.
So why was he honored to meet the world’s
most wanted man after 9/11?
After 9/11 Hamid was a guest on Larry King’s show
where he told some things bin Laden didn’t like.
He criticized bin Laden’s actions, told
that he has met him a couple of times and
that there is no justification for his actions.
That Osama bin Laden is not capable of convincing
a man like Hamid Mir.
After this interview, Hamid got approached
by people from Al-Qaeda.
They said “The chief wants to see you.
And this time he will convince you”
At this point, Osama had become the worlds
most wanted man and the procedures for getting
to him were more complex than before.
First – Hamid was blindfolded and put into
an ambulance car.
The driver was making random turns so the
passenger wouldn’t know where he is at one
After a few hours, he was dropped in a safe
house in the middle of nowhere.
Hamid went into the house and was strictly
watched by Al Qaeda people.
You’re thinking he’s about to meet bin
Hamid was kept in that house for two days
where people from Al Qaeda asked him to do
random things.
He had to put some kind of gel on his skin.
He had to take a hot bath every few hours,
despite the fact it was more than +30 degrees
He had to drink some kind of pills and because
of them, he had to the bathroom almost every
5 minutes.
Al-Qaeda thought that Hamid could have got
some chemicals in his body that can be traced
by the satellites. And, of course, Americans would do that.
That’s why had to sweat a lot, that’s
why he had to go to the toilet all the time
– so he would lose all body fluids.
At last, he was brought to bin Laden. Bin
Laden couldn’t convince Hamid this time
as well. But he didn’t kill him.
Which is good. But when Hamid wanted to
take his recordings and go away, people from
Al-Qaeda stopped him and took his stuff.
Do you think they weren’t happy about the
interview and wanted to get rid of the material?
They told Hamid that it’s too dangerous
for him to carry this stuff on his own.
They promised to deliver the footage to his
work and they did.
After a conversation with Hamid, I had a feeling
that I have met bin Laden myself.
For writing this article I got personal gratitude
from a high-level person from UNSECO.
Can’t remember his name.
But more important.
I received an email from Hamid the next day.
He told me I did an excellent job
and wished me good luck.
One day I’m sitting in university and talking
to course mates.
The next day I’m interviewing world-class
journalists with insane stories and receiving
complimentary emails about my work.
At this point, I was fully sure that I want
to continue my work in journalism and I moved
Hamid’s experience and simplicity were very
influential and inspirational.
Osama bin Laden was shot in 2011.
And that’s why Hamid Mir will always hold
these titles
* journalist who interviewed bin Laden three
* the first and the only journalist who interviewed
bin Laden after 9/11
* the man who made bin Laden apologize.
Lesson number one
Stay in school.
I won’t lie – in the study years, I had
my doubts.
Am I in the right profession?
Will I be interested in it?
The University didn’t answer my questions.
But because of the University, I got to meet
Hamid and he answered my question.
Lesson number 2
Don’t be afraid to talk to “big shots”.
It’s so much easier not doing things that
you might be scared off.
But it’s not good for your self-growth.
Hamid could choose not to talk to Osama and
I could choose not to talk to Hamid.
But that’s not the way to move forward in
your life.
Lesson number 3.
Don’t be afraid to inspire.
If you’re a big shot don’t avoid talking
10-15 minutes with a young person who has chosen
a similar path as you have.
You could really inspire them by just telling
about your experience.
If you are interested in the article I wrote
about Hamid, the link is in the description.
What do you think of this episode?
Leave comments below.
I want to hear your opinion.
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Any kind of support is appreciated.
I’m 1outofbillion
Shout out to Hamid!
Peace out!