Osama Bin Laden will never surrender, says ex-jihadi
DUBAI: A Saudi Muslim scholar who spent years with Arab jihadis in Afghanistan said he knows Osama bin Laden well and that the Al Qaeda leader would never surrender, according to a report published Wednesday.
“He will never surrender because he seeks death and yearns for it,” said Musa al-Qorni in an interview with Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat.
He added that he believed bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, is at present under the sway of the “Egyptian jihad group” led by Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri and acts according to its plans.
Qorni said he and others tried to convince bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990s to come back to Saudi Arabia and “lead a normal life”, but that the Saudi-born militant snubbed them and returned to Afghanistan.
US President George W Bush said during his first visit to Afghanistan on March 1 that he was confident bin Laden would be brought to justice.
Bin Laden, sheltered by the Taliban regime that was removed from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001, is believed to be hiding out along the remote, mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A US-led coalition force of about 20,000 based in southern and eastern Afghanistan as well as some 80,000 Pakistani troops stationed on the other side of the border are on the hunt for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, including bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Qorni, whose interview with Al-Hayat will be published in installments over three days, said he went to the Pakistani city of Peshawar in the 1980s to act as mentor to the Arab jihadis (holy fighters) that flocked to the area with the support of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fight the Soviet occupation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
He says that he and four other scholars taught at the Dawa and Jihad university established in the hijra (immigration) village for Arab fighters near Peshawar but that his role went beyond the school benches and to the front, where he taught jihadis how to live and fight according to sharia, Islamic law, and sometimes fought alongside them.
“I knew many young men who before coming for jihad and in some cases they got killed, and we ask God to bless them as martyrs, led a non-Islamic and even sometimes very deviant life,” says Qorni, 52, who is now a lawyer and sharia consultant in Saudi Arabia.
In his interview, Qorni talks at great length about how the Arab fighters shared with the Taliban their animosity towards Ahmad Shah Massoud, head of the rival faction that controlled a section of northern Afghanistan, who was assassinated in September 2001.
He says bin Laden took part in a Taliban staged trial that convicted Massoud of being “an apostate and agent of the West.” afp