London: Apart from plotting terror attacks, Osama bin Laden is passionate about volleyball and football, and he is also a voracious reader who often enjoys quoting from the memoirs of two top World War II strategists, a new book has claimed.
According to the book, the world's most wanted man is an extremely useful presence on the volleyball court. "He's so tall that he doesn't need to jump up to do a smash," Britain's 'The Sunday Times' quoted author Nasser al-Bahri, one of the al Qaeda leader's former bodyguards, as saying.
The book, titled 'In the Shadow of Bin Laden', also claims that Osama likes playing football, preferably at centre forward, but he never takes off his turban; he is passionate about racehorses too.
Moreover, the al Qaeda leader is an avid reader who loves quoting from memoirs of Britain's Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, one of the most inspirational military commanders of the Second World War, and former French president General Charles de Gaulle, the 38-year-old bodyguard says.
However, the book claims that Osama’s domestic life is no bed of roses.
Though the al Qaeda was careful to avoid conflict with his four wives -- each trained in the use of a Kalashnikov -- he's powerless to stop the first, a "seductive" but uneducated Syrian from being fiercely jealous of the second, an older, more erudite Saudi woman whom he would often consult on issues of "Islamic science", it says.
The four wives, in turn, bitterly resented the arrival of a fifth bride in 2000 from Yemen, when she turned out to be a 17-year-old, says al-Bahri, who served in Afghan mountains for four years as one of Osama’s most trusted lieutenants.
The author believes Osama is hiding in Waziristan, in northwestern Pakistan, but thinks it is unlikely he will be taken alive -- he remembers "the sheikh" giving him a pistol and instructions to put "two bullets in my head" if they were about to be captured.
"He had a horror of ending up as a prisoner of the Americans," says al-Bahri, who worked for Osama from 1996 to 2000 before returning home to Yemen.
First Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010, 11:27