A Pakistani journalist said Saturday he was blindfolded, bundled into a jeep and driven for five hours to a cold mud hut in Afghanistan where he met the world's most wanted man _ Osama bin Laden.
Amid the distant bursts of antiaircraft fire during the interview, bin Laden was sometimes relaxed and sometimes aggressive, journalist Hamid Mir said.
Bin Laden claimed, according to Mir's report Saturday in the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn, that his al-Qaida organization had nuclear and chemical weapons and would use them if the United States employed such weapons on him.
Mir, who is widely known in Pakistan for his contacts with bin Laden, told the Associated Press that he went to Afghanistan this week to report on the U.S. bombing campaign and was approached by bin Laden lieutenants who offered him an interview.
Wednesday, Arab militiamen drove him to the interview, which he said took place in a "very cold place _ much colder than Kabul." Mir said he was taken to a mud hut and bin Laden eventually arrived, accompanied by a dozen bodyguards and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
"He told me five times that "maybe this place will be bombed now and both of us will be killed, and I'm not scared of death,' " Mir quoted bin Laden as saying.
Mir said bin Laden vowed that if his Taliban allies lose the capital Kabul and other cities, "we will move to the mountains. We will continue our guerrilla warfare against the Americans."
The United States and its coalition allies have been hunting bin Laden as the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. President Bush launched air attacks on Afghanistan on Oct. 7 after Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia refused to hand over bin Laden.
Mir told AP that bin Laden keeps up with news of the conflict by watching Western satellite television. It was impossible to independently verify Mir's account.
In his report in Dawn, a major English-language daily, Mir quoted bin Laden as saying: "I wish to declare that if America used chemical and nuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as a deterrent."
The story was also published in Ausaf, a widely circulated Pakistani Urdu-language newspaper that Mir edits. Mir has written a biography of bin Laden, due out in Pakistan next month.
The United States says it has no evidence that bin Laden possesses nuclear weapons. Intelligence experts think al-Qaida has experimented with crude chemical weapons at a training camp in Afghanistan.
"They're seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons," Bush said in Washington on Friday. "Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civilization itself."
Mir wrote that when he asked bin Laden where he allegedly got the mass destruction weapons, bin Laden replied: "Go to the next question."
In the published interview, Bin Laden did not acknowledge responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks but he said they were justified because Washington had been arming Israel, and was conducting "atrocities" against Muslims in Iraq, Kashmir and elsewhere.
"The Sept. 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children," bin Laden said. "The real targets were America's icons of military and economic power."