'It was personal': How Osama plotted revenge on US for breaking up family - Today in Kenya

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Thursday, 7 September 2017

'It was personal': How Osama plotted revenge on US for breaking up family

Osama bin Laden targeted America when the United States made its pursuit of him "personal" by breaking up his family, a new documentary claims.
The former leader of Al Qaeda became angry because his life was 'turned upside down' when he was forced to leave Sudan in 1996 due to pressure from the US.
According to 'Road to 9/11', his only option was to return to Afghanistan and live in poverty where, stewing in his own rage, he wrote a 12 page declaration of war against America.
His second wife left him and his eldest son returned to their native Saudi Arabia without him, later followed by another wife because she wasn't accustomed to the lifestyle.
The film, airing this week on the History Channel, suggests that for all his ideological hatred of the US, bin Laden was just as upset by the damage done to his own family.
Over nearly five hours, the three part mini series outlines in painstaking detail how the events which led to the September 11, 2001, attacks began at least a decade earlier.
Through 60 interviews with key players it also says that the warning signs were repeatedly missed - and multiple chances to kill bin Laden were not taken.
Road to 9/11 describes how by the mid 1990s bin Laden was trying to find a new target for his loyal mujahideen fighters who had stayed with him since the end of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1989.
At the time he was living in Sudan where virtually every major terrorist group had a base supported by the extremist regime.
Bin Laden had an office, prestige, land for horses and was living a fairly comfortable life.
The US did not have enough evidence to indict him so the American authorities pressured Sudan to kick him out, and they caved in.
Bin Laden could not go Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Egypt or even Qatar that was sympathetic to Islamic extremists.
His native Saudi Arabia was not an option as he had criticized its rulers so he had to go to Afghanistan.
According to author Steve Coll, who has written extensively about the bin Laden family, in May 1996 he moved Al Qaeda back to Afghanistan, a country that barely had electricity and was still shattered by the war with the Soviets.
A journalist who interviewed him was shocked to find a man whose father was once one of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia eating stale bread, potato stew and splitting five fried eggs among 14 men.
Coll tells the documentary that bin Laden was 'angry' after one of his wives left and his eldest son went to Saudi Arabia.
Coll says in the film: "He blamed the US not only for all these sins of history and these manipulations of the Islamic world, but now it was personal.
'His own life had been turned upside down by American pursuit of him, American pressure that had forced him out of Sudan and to this broken country again.
'They sent him to Afghanistan thinking surely he will fade from the world scene but the first thing he did after he arrived was to climb up on a mountaintop and write a declaration of war on the United States'.
The 12 page declaration, in which he vowed that America would be 'completely defeated', appears to have been motivated by personal scorn as much as ideology, Coll says.
Examining his beliefs it makes sense; despite spending decades waging jihad, bin Laden often kept his family close to him on the front lines and valued their company immensely.
In total bin Laden had around 20 children and six wives.
It was his second wife, Khadijah Sharif, a university lecturer, who asked for a divorce when he moved back to Afghanistan because she did not want to live in hardship.
His eldest son was Abdallah bin Laden who is still alive today and living in Saudi Arabia.
Bin Laden's first wife was Syrian-born Najwa Ghanem who followed him back to Afghanistan but left days before 9/11 because she found their life in a mud hut in the wilderness too much.
She married bin Laden in 1974 in Syria when he was a wealthy teenager and then an anti-Soviet jihadi hero but could not tolerate it when he returned to Afghanistan.
Bin Laden's other three wives were reportedly with him in his hideout in Pakistan when it was raided by US Special Forces in 2011 and he was killed.
They were his third wife, Khairiah Sabar, whose son Hamza bin Laden has become a terrorist like his father.

Another of bin Laden's sons Saad also joined Al Qaeda and was killed in a US drone strike in 2009.He has become known as the 'Crown Prince of Terror' and in July last year recorded a video message vowing revenge for his father's death.
Bin Laden's fourth wife was Siham Sabar, an Arabic teacher, and his fifth wife was Yemeni Amal al-Sadah who he married in 2000 when she was 15 and he was 43.
All three wives, and 10 of their children, are now living in Saudi Arabia.
The Road to 9/11 says that the pieces that led to the September 11 attacks were like a 'web' that could only be fully appreciated years after the event.
The film says that the danger could be traced back as far as November 1990 with the killing of Israeli Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York.
The killer was El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian immigrant who was the first of a new generation of terrorists on American soil.
He had a story that would become all too familiar in the years to come.
Nosair had been radicalized by an extremist preacher known as the 'Blind Sheik' at the Al Farook mosque in Brooklyn, New York.
The Sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, preached hate to what became a terrorist cell that carried out the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Only after the attacks did the FBI realize that those attending the mosque - who they had under surveillance for months - were responsible.
The FBI had been watching them go to firing ranges on weekends but without any crime being committed they had been unable to arrest them.
Road to 9/11 has chilling details about a follow up plot hatched by the same men in which explosives would simultaneously go off at New York landmarks: the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the Statue of Liberty, several bridges and the United Nations building.
The film shows FBI informant Emad Salem, who infiltrated the cell, standing at the Statue of Liberty on a reconnaissance trip with Siddig Ali, a Sudanese national who was part of the plot.
Salem says in the film: 'We walked in like regular John Does but we had our eyes for the security because we knew that one day we're going to come with a bomb to the weakest spot and blow it up'.
Siddig took Salem's picture and told him: 'It's not going to stand here any more.'
Salem says: 'It was heart-wrenching to look at that statue and look at this man joking about destroying the statue of liberty'.
Road to 9/11 includes camera footage shot by Salem as he and Siddig drove through the Holland tunnel on another reconnaissance mission.
Siddig directed him to point the camera up in the tunnel so they could see the point where they would stop, get out of the car and set off the bomb so that water would rush in and kill everyone.
With Salem's help the FBI rigged up a warehouse for the terrorists to use and recorded them calmly mixing explosive materials.
In one clip they ask each other if they want coffee while planning mass murder and one says: 'Yes but no sugar please'.
he film also features an extraordinary account by Salem of how he got the crucial evidence that led to the prosecution for the planned attack.
The FBI were desperate to get the Blind Sheik on tape and gave Salem a suitcase with a wire in it to record him.
He told the Blind Sheik that they were planning to attack the UN building in New York but the Sheik began to whisper in Salem's left ear that they should find a different target.
Salem feared the wire would not capture the recording so carefully held up the suitcase to his right ear.
The Blind Sheik - who could not see what was happening - told him to attack the US Army instead and, having made the crucial recording, Salem quickly lowered the suitcase to the floor before anyone walked in.
After the plotters were arrested the documents from Nosair's arrest three years earlier were finally translated from Arabic into English and contained a chilling warning that leaped out at the FBI.
It said bluntly: 'We will bring down your high buildings.'

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