Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bin Ladens brother-in-law speaks

Bin Ladens brother-in-law speaks: "Bin Ladens brother-in-law speaks
11/25/2004 7:30:00 PM GMT

Bin Laden's brother-in-law says he's not surprised that it is difficult to capture Osama, leader of Al Qaeda network.

"Who is going to capture him and where?" Jamal Khalifah said.

Speaking to the CNN, Khalifah said: "For 10 years, the Russians did not capture even one leader of the Afghan Mujahedeen with the full forces everywhere. So I think it is a little bit difficult."

Currently, Khalifa runs a fish restaurant outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"Ten years we are together," said Khalifa. "When we were in the university and after that. Always we are together. We live in one house."

Khalifa said that he and Bin Laden met at Jeddah's King Abdulaziz University in the late 1970s.

"He is the one who suggested ... I marry his sister," Khalifa said. "I told him, 'Osama, we are going to die and you are talking about marriage. So let's go first and if I come alive, we will do it.' So, I came alive."

Khalifah spent most of his life in Pakistan, he established an Islamic relief charity, schools and mosques for refugees displaced by the war in Afghanistan.

Khalifah said that he was troubled at the time that bin Laden starting to form his own fighting force from the men, who were known as the Afghan Arabs. "I saw him starting to group the Arabs in one place and start to let them go and fight by themselves."

Khalifah said he didn’t understand at first that this was the beginnings of al Qaeda network, he said he didn't like what he saw.

"I am the first one who stood up in front of Osama and told him, 'Osama, you are doing something wrong. You are going to the wrong direction,'" said Khalifah, who said he did not approve bin Laden and his advisers’ approach.

Last year Saudi Arabia was hit with a series of attacks, for which Al Qaeda network claimed responsibility. Thus, Khalifah published a letter in a Saudi paper urging Bin Laden to stop those attacks being committed in his name.

"Please come out, tell those people to stop," Khalifa wrote in the letter. "You are the one who can tell that, and you are the one who can stop it."

But Khalifah never got a response from Bin Laden who used to be his best friend.

Khalifa has been the target of an extraordinary amount of scrutiny due to his background.

In the Philippines, from which he headed to Afghanistan, officials accused Khalifah of using businesses and his Islamic charities as a disguise to support militant groups with money. Much of the investigation was done after Khalifah had left the country.

Then Khalifah went to San Francisco, California, and there he was arrested by the U.S. government after it learned he was wanted in Jordan, where he had been convicted in absentia on a charge of plotting to overthrow the government. After being deported to Jordan, he was retried and acquitted.

Although Khalifah is named as a defendant in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit filed by families of Sep 11 victims, he affirms that no evidence linking him to the attacks has ever been found.

On September 11, Khalifah was in Southeast Asia on a business trip. After he returned to Saudi Arabia, he got jailed for several months and was released afterwards. Commenting on that Khalifah says that up till now he has no idea why was he arrested.

"They came and said, 'You are clear and you can go now.' That's it. So I don't know what is going on," he said.

Nawaf Obaid, a national security consultant for the Saudi government, said that authorities now believe Khalifa "does not pose any security threat to any government and that he has broken all ties that have linked him to his charitable groups when he was operating out of the Philippines.""

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