Читать онлайн "The Black Banners" автора Soufan Ali H. - RuLit - Страница 88

 
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To conceal their identities from spies of their home governments and other intelligence entities, all fighters were given aliases. Abu Jandal had originally picked “Abu Hamza” but was told that it was too common. An Egyptian acquaintance suggested that “Abu Jandal,” with its implication that the bearer of the name could be an agent of death, would be fitting.

In 1996 Abu Jandal traveled to Somalia to help Muslim fighters who were trying to take over the country. They were battling invading Ethiopian forces who opposed their taking control. However, the Somalis, he discovered, were selective with regard to who could fight. From among the group that Abu Jandal had arrived with, only he was accepted—because his dark complexion allowed him to blend in easily. To “avoid complications,” the Somalis declined to use anyone who was patently foreign-born: they wished to maintain the appearance of a native force. Abu Jandal’s description of his route to Somalia matched the route that L’Houssaine Kherchtou had told us al-Qaeda used to transport fighters.

After being accepted, Abu Jandal was approached by ministers from the Islamic Union Movement, or Itihad Islami (his hosts), and asked if he had money to give them “for our cause.” This put Abu Jandal over the edge. “We are not here for the jihad of money, nor the jihad of color,” he angrily told them. He didn’t like their attitude toward fighting and toward fellow Muslims. Without having fought a battle in Somalia, he returned to Yemen.

Later that year he met Muhannad bin Attash, Khallad’s elder brother, at the al-Qaeda guesthouse on October Street in Sanaa. Muhannad, an inspiring figure, convinced Abu Jandal to go to Tajikistan with him to wage jihad. They traveled to Karachi first and met up with other foreign fighters, and this group became known, unofficially, as the Northern Group. Abu Jandal was among the members of the group who in 1996 pledged bayat to bin Laden. He identified the members of the group for us.

Abu Jandal went to the front lines to fight alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. During a battle he injured the bottom of his foot and was evacuated to Khost. He spent three months recovering, and then went to Kandahar to join bin Laden. He served as one of the guards—along with Khallad, Hamdan, and others—during the May 1998 press conference of bin Laden’s following the ABC interview.

After the East African bombings, bin Laden enlisted Abu Jandal, Saqr al-Jadawi, Fayadh al-Madani, and Mu’awiya al-Madani as his bodyguards. Bin Laden gave Abu Jandal a gun with two bullets and told him, “If I am ever about to be captured, kill me first.” The gun and those bullets became Abu Jandal’s most prized possessions.

After a trip to Yemen, Abu Mohammed al-Masri recommended that Abu Jandal be made emir of the Kabul guesthouse. There had been a dispute between al-Qaeda operatives from Egypt and al-Qaeda members from the Arabian Peninsula as to who should be in charge of it. Bin Laden realized that he needed someone who was respected by both groups—and he felt that Abu Jandal fit that bill. Abu Jandal was honored to be appointed.

As emir, his job was to interview people who came to stay, find out why they had come to Afghanistan, and test them to see if they were suitable candidates for membership in al-Qaeda. For this duty he was paid $64 a month by bin Laden. Abu Jandal also traveled around to different training camps, meeting recruits and advocating jihad against America and the importance of al-Qaeda.

Later he moved from Kabul to Kandahar, where he stayed in the bin Laden compound and was paid $94 a month by bin Laden to help protect him. At this point he was recognized as a central figure in the entourage.

Abu Jandal treasured the book on George Washington. (Attorneys who years later interviewed him for the Hamdan trial told me that he still had it and showed it to them.) He read it immediately, devoting an entire day to it, and discussed it with us that evening. He excitedly told me: “Bin Laden is like George Washington. They’re both revolutionaries.”

“No, they’re not,” I replied with a smile.

The intelligence Abu Jandal gave was disseminated across the intelligence and military communities. It was celebrated as a major success. Edmund Hull, Barbara Bodine’s replacement as ambassador to Yemen, called Bob and me into his office and told us: “Congratulations. The Abu Jandal interrogation has caused General Musharraf to accept that al-Qaeda is behind 9/11, and to join the coalition. Well done. That’s a huge success.”

The Abu Jandal 302 to this day is viewed as the most successful interrogation of any al-Qaeda operative. It was immensely valuable in the war in Afghanistan; it was crucial to successful interrogations of many future al-Qaeda operatives that we apprehended; and it provided much of the basis for our knowledge of al-Qaeda. It is still used in interrogating and prosecuting al-Qaeda operatives. (I can talk about Abu Jandal in greater detail than I can about other detainees because his 302 was declassified by the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

The information gained about al-Qaeda’s capabilities, communication systems, and training was eagerly digested by the military community. The war against Afghanistan was delayed so that the information could be best used. Our team was brought to Bahrain to brief military officials, most prominent among them Vice Adm. Charles “Willy” Moore, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. We briefed the admiral on everything Abu Jandal had revealed to us. Our briefing ended late in the day, and we had to spend the night in Bahrain. We intended to fly back to Yemen the next morning. It was the first free evening we’d had in weeks, so we went to a restaurant for dinner.

As we walked out of the restaurant, a group of young men who had congregated in a parking lot nearby started to yell at Bob and another FBI colleague who were walking ahead of the rest of us. The young men grew more and more belligerent, finally grabbing Bob and trying to push him into one of their cars. He resisted, and my friend and FBI colleague Carlos Fernandez and I tried fighting back. But they outnumbered us, and we weren’t carrying any weapons.

From what they were shouting to each other in Arabic, I realized that they were disgruntled Shiite youths who were wannabe Bahraini Hezbollah operatives. They apparently did not like Bob; with his fair skin and blue eyes, he was the most Western-looking of all of us. Bahrain had experienced significant problems with the Shiite segment of their population.

“What are you doing, you fools?” I shouted at them.

“We are terrorists. We are Hezbollah.”

I knew then for sure that they were just bored kids with nothing to do. A real member of Hezbollah won’t call himself a terrorist.

I approached the one who appeared to be the gang leader. “I am Lebanese. I am the real Hezbollah from Lebanon. You’re interfering in my business. Go away.”

He froze, then tried to give me a hug. “Brother, you are one of us, we want to help you,” he said excitedly.

“No, you’re not. I appreciate your sentiment, but get out of here and take your buddies with you before you get into trouble.”

They let go of Bob, apologized, and started embracing me: “We are your Bahraini Hezbollah allies. Long live Hezbollah!” They were drunk.

“Okay, okay, go home now,” I shouted, pushing them off me. They ran to their cars, saluted, and drove off.

We flew back to Yemen the next morning.

“Now can we speak to Ahmed al-Hada?” I asked Qamish.

“Why? He’s just an old man. He’s got no direct connection to terrorism,” Qamish replied. “We’ve been through this before.”

     

 

2011 - 2018