Communication for Sustainable Development

Bin Laden chose wrong path in history: Khashoggi

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Prominent Riyadh-based Saudi journalist Jamal A. Khashoggi, who fought alongside Afghans and other Arabs including Osama Bin Laden in the war against the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1980s, described Bin Laden’s killing as no big news. “If you ask me, it is no news because I expected this to happen a long time ago,” he told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
Khashoggi said the fact that Osama survived for this long after Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was the real story. “It was a big failure of US intelligence,” he said.
According to him it is a very peculiar thing to happen in a very peculiar year. “The news of his killing comes at a time when the Al-Qaeda ideology has been completely rejected by the Arab world. Al-Qaeda was in eclipse … to be very specific it was buried in January 2011 in Tahrir Square in Cairo,” he said, referring to the massive people’s movement that swept aside longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak.

“In a sense it is the right ending for Osama because the recent development in the Arab world clearly indicated that there was no place for him or his ideology,” said Khashoggi. “The rise of the nonviolent movement in the Arab world was the complete rejection of the Al-Qaeda philosophy.”
Khashoggi said he felt sorry that Bin Laden chose the wrong path when he was at the crossroads of history. “He hijacked our religion and chose the path of violence. I remember how we were all in the grip of violence in the early and mid-2000s, here in Saudi Arabia, Algeria … there were suicide bombings, bomb blasts, killings. His ideology did not conform with my understanding of Islam,” he said.
Khashoggi said had Bin Laden been a good reader of history and if he had had a chance to go on air he would have definitely admitted defeat after the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. “The Arab youth took the path of nonviolence to effect change in their countries. Nonviolence is in total variance with the Al-Qaeda ideology … Osama and his men believed in violence … nothing but violence — no reconciliation — no dialogue.”
Khashoggi, who has been extensively quoted about Bin Laden and who plans to write his own version of what happened in the 1980s when he was a war correspondent covering Afghanistan and interviewed Bin Laden several times, said Bin Laden’s killing in a place located deep inside Pakistan will spell disaster for the South Asian country.
“Yes, Pakistan will be in deep trouble. Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) will have a serious problem. Bin Laden’s death will have more repercussions in Pakistan than any other country in the Muslim world. The country will be under immense political pressure. The killing of Bin Laden inside Pakistan only proves all the doubts that Americans had all this while. We will have to wait for the investigations to reveal as to how long he was based there, who protected him, who all knew he was there, who was involved in the cover-up? All these are disturbing questions from Pakistan’s point of view,” said Khashoggi.
He said it was rather ironic that while the Arab world had extricated itself from the vice-like grip of Al-Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan were still in its thrall. “The Arab spring did not reach Islamabad and Kabul, and that is rather unfortunate. The Al-Qaeda mindset is still very strong in those two countries. One hopes the end of Osama will lead to a change in that mindset,” he said.


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