Thin Man Press

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How Bin Laden’s Son Nearly Killed Half the Al-Qaeda Leadership: Extract 2

This is an extract from ‘Guarding bin Laden: My Life in al-Qaeda’ by Nasser al-Bahri, published by Thin Man Press

Sheikh Osama had been summoned by Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, to their base in Kandahar. With Massoud’s troops rapidly advancing on Jalalabad, the Taliban feared for the al-Qaeda leadership. Especially as the Saudis, disappointed that the Taliban wouldn’t hand bin Laden over to them, were stepping up the pressure. Mullah Omar feared for bin Laden’s safety in Jalalabad where he was welcoming people from all sorts of organizations and nationalities, some of whom could certainly be secret service. Kandahar seemed safer.

When he came back by helicopter two days later, Osama asked the families to relocate to Kandahar. His own three wives, their children and all the other al-Qaeda members’ children, as well as the main leaders – abu Hafs and several others – boarded a military plane the Taliban had lent him. Sheikh Osama left in a car, escorted by a convoy of three other vehicles led by Saif al-Adel.

In the plane an incident occurred that could have decimated al-Qaeda. Abdelrahmane, bin Laden’s second son, then aged sixteen, was wearing a belt full of hand grenades. In the middle of the flight, the ring of one of the safety catches got snagged on his seat; luckily the pin hadn’t come out of the grenade and Abdelrahmane held onto it for dear life. He managed to get Abu Hafs’ attention and showed him what was happening. Abu Hafs got hold of the grenade in one hand with the striker lever held firmly down while Abdelrahmane freed the ring from the seat. Everyone was terrified. They had narrowly avoided total disaster! In fact, except for bin Laden and Saif al-Adel, all al-Qaeda’s top brass was on board, around two hundred and fifty people. If the grenade had gone off, al-Qaeda would have been finished.

Read more about ‘Guarding bin Laden: My Life in al-Qaeda’ here

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