Robert Fisk – Maidstone’s finest journo

When Osama Bin Laden organised the terrorist attack that changed our world in 2002, it was not by chance that the attack took place on the 11th day of the 9th month, September.

 

The date that would become iconic with terrorism was not random but all part of the meticulous plan from the man who changed the mood of the western world. When Bin Laden instructed his extremist followers to attack on September 11th it was with a sense of revenge, as the date was referencing a significant battle at the gates of Vienna in 1683 when Islamic forces were defeated. Although, it was hardly the bloodiest or most significant battle but it’s believed to have been pivotal as the Ottoman Empire never recovered from this defeat and it is widely viewed as a pivot point in deciding the world influence of Christianity and the lack of Muslim influence in the centuries that followed.

 

Now, you might be thinking what is this all about? This is all a bit profound and global-centric for a Maidstone CommunityAd magazine, why is Osama Bin Laden’s business of concern to a Maidstone journalist? Well, I’ll have you know, reader, that the greatest and most decorated journalist to ever be born in Maidstone was quite aware of Osama Bin Laden’s business as he interviewed him three times, I’m talking of course of the legendary Robert Frisk.

 

Fisk was born here in Maidstone in the summer of 1946, his parents were well known and part of the local elite, father William was Borough Treasurer at Maidstone Corporation and had fought in the First World War and mother Peggy was an amateur painter who in later years became a Maidstone magistrate. Robert was educated locally at Yardley Court and Sutton Valence School before heading north for a university education where he got his first gig as a writer, at the student magazine before working for regional paper the Newcastle Chronicle.

 

It wasn’t long before the national publications came calling, Fisk established himself at the Sunday Express before becoming The Times War Correspondent. A role in which he thrived as he was well educated in the politics of the world and rather fascinated by war, ever since a young lad learning of his father’s First World War heroics Robert was captivated by war and just as well as he reported from the front line of a fair few conflicts from Northern Ireland, Portugal, the Middle East, Beirut.

 

Frisk would go on to write for The Independent as an international correspondent, he covered the civil wars in Lebanon, Algeria, and Syria, the Iran–Iraq conflict, the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Islamic revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. His strong views were especially critical of United States Foreign Policy, this and the fact he spoke Arabic were no doubt contributing factors to how Robert Fisk, a man from Maidstone, sat down with Osama Bin Laden.

 

Articles of Maidstone’s greatest ever journalist are still available online as are some of his books which are well worth digging out if you like your conflicts. As well as being Maidstone’s finest journo, alumni Robert Fisk might be Kent’s most decorated academic, although he studied for a BA at Lancaster University in 1968,  and his PHD at Trinity College Dublin in 1985 he manage to rock up another eight honorary degrees due to his fantastic work and countless awards before his death in 2020.

 

Neither his life nor his body of work can really be explored in a page of an A5 magazine, however, we’d like to salute Robert Fisk’s memory and remind our readers that Maidstone has born many a famous face and in this case a famous face who produced some famous words.

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