Thursday, December 08, 2005

No love lost between 2 fiends
No love lost between 2 fiends: book


Osama Bin Laden detests Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was never connected with the Iraqi dictator, according to a new book based on interviews with friends and family of the terror network leader.

The information shoots holes in the Bush administration's claims that Al Qaeda was closely allied with Saddam, one of its justifications for going to war with Iraq.

Writer Peter Bergen spent more than eight years - and conducted 50 interviews - getting the low-down on the world's most reviled terrorist.

His book, "The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader," will be published in January. An excerpt appears in next month's Vanity Fair.

Khaled Batarfi, a childhood friend of Bin Laden, told Bergen he saw Bin Laden six months before Iraq invaded Kuwait. Batarfi said Osama, a Saudi national, told him, "'We should ... prepare for the day when eventually we are attacked. This guy [Saddam] can never be trusted.'

"He doesn't believe Saddam is a Muslim. So he never liked him or trusted him," Batarfi said.

Hamid Mir, Bin Laden's Pakistani biographer, said that when he interviewed the Al Qaeda leader in 1997, "He condemned Saddam Hussein in my interview" and denounced the Iraqi dictator as a "socialist motherf-----."

Bergen's research suggests Al Qaeda was a shambles after 9/11 but the fall of the Taliban and the Iraq war brought it back to life by becoming a rallying cry for jihadists.

Interviewees claim there was no relationship between Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq - before last year.

Bergen also writes that Bin Laden narrowly escaped being killed during a U.S. assault on his hideout in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan.

He also reports Bin Laden has become a father again since 9/11, fathering a daughter named Safia - after a woman who lived in the time of the Prophet Muhammed and killed a Jewish spy.