Cairo: The new head of al Qaeda remembers
Osama bin Laden as a sensitive man who cried when his friends
lost family members, remained close to his children despite
the hard life of an international jihadist, and fondly
remembered by name the 19 men who carried out the deadliest
terrorist attack ever on US soil.
Longtime bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, now
al Qaeda`s new head, related these and other memories in a new
video posted on jihadist websites yesterday. In the video,
al-Zawahri said he wants "to show the human side" of bin
In doing so, he also is likely trying to boost his own
popularity by emphasising his closeness to the terror group`s
former, more charismatic leader.
Bin Laden, who built al Qaeda into the world`s most
feared and despised terror organisation and was the mastermind
behind some of its deadliest attacks, was killed by Navy SEALs
in May during a raid in Pakistan. Al-Zawahri assumed control
of the organisation shortly after; though experts say he lacks
bin Laden`s charisma, which drew many to the group.
Throughout the 30-minute, conversational video,
apparently the first in a series, al-Zawahri emphasises what
he calls the "nobility" of bin Laden`s character as well as
his own proximity to him.
"People don`t know that this man was tender, gentle,
kind, with refined feelings, even when life was hard,"
al-Zawahri said, wearing a white robe and turban and sitting
in front of a green curtain. "We never saw a man like him."
Al-Zawahri told stories of how bin Laden remembered
al Qaeda members who died fighting "jihad," or "holy war." He
gave special mention to the hijackers who carried out the
terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in the US, which killed
nearly 3,000 people.
"The sheik would remember with goodness and gratitude and
be moved by the memory of the 19 brothers who attacked the
idol of our age, America the Pentagon, the headquarters of its
military power, and New York, the symbol of its economic
power," he said, pointing his finger for emphasis. "He would
remember these brothers with extreme fidelity."
He recalled one time when he and bin Laden were hiding in
the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora, saying bin Laden wrote
death certificates for each one of the hijackers, fearing he
would be killed "without remembering these heroic martyrs."
At one point, al-Zawahri related bin Laden`s reaction
when al-Zawahri got the news that some members of his family
had been killed. Bin Laden came to him with tears in his eyes
and hugged him, he said.