Читать онлайн "The Black Banners" автора Soufan Ali H. - RuLit - Страница 89

 
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“We have been through this before, but now is different.”

The Yemenis had been giving us the “he’s just an old man” line since the East African embassy bombings. The surviving Nairobi bomber, Owhali, had confessed to FBI interrogators that he had called Hada’s number in Yemen after the attack to let al-Qaeda know what had happened to him and to request a fake passport and money. Still, the Yemenis maintained that Hada was just an old man whose home was used.

“He’s not just an old man, my friend,” I said to Qamish. “Abu Jandal just told us that not only is Hada a member of al-Qaeda, but he is the father-in-law of Khalid al-Mihdhar, one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.”

Hada was brought into the interrogation room in Sanaa and seated before us. Andre Khoury, Bob, and I introduced ourselves and read him the Miranda warning, explaining it to him. He waived his right to a lawyer and signed the Miranda document using a thumbprint, as he was illiterate and didn’t know how to write his name.

“As-Salamu Alaykum,” I began, and told him that we were investigating the terrorist attack on America.

“I don’t know anything about terrorism,” he replied, “I’m just an old man.”

“You don’t know anything about al-Qaeda?” I asked.

“No.”

“Okay, then, tell us about your son-in-law Khalid al-Mihdhar.”

“I don’t know anything about my son-in-law. I didn’t even know that that’s his name.”

“You don’t know your own son-in-law’s name? So how did your daughter get married?”

“One day men came to the mosque and asked about my daughter and said they wanted their friend to marry her.”

“And you agreed?”

“Yes.”

“And you never met or spoke to your daughter’s husband?”

“No.”

“You’re a disgrace,” one of the Yemeni officers present shouted at Hada, unable to contain himself. “How can you be a son of a tribe, how can you be an Arab? How do you claim to be Yemeni and say something like this? This is your daughter you are talking about. Your own flesh and blood. This is your honor.” Hada went red.

Andre chimed in: “No self-respecting Arab would do such a thing. What’s wrong with you?” Hada shrugged and didn’t say anything. It was very telling that protecting al-Qaeda was more important to him than his own reputation.

For several hours Hada maintained that he knew nothing. In order to catch him out, Andre and I began testing him about what we knew about him. We would ask him about a specific fact, acting as if we didn’t know the answer. He would reply, denying that he knew the answer. We would demonstrate that he did know the fact. Because Hada was extremely embarrassed to be caught lying, he would then concede that he did indeed know the information, and admit more details. For example, when he claimed not to know the identity and names of his sons-in-law, we showed him photographs of them. Only then did he acknowledge that he knew them and give us information about them. Sometimes we’d ask a question, not knowing the answer, but he’d think we were trying to embarrass and test him again, and so he would tell us what we wanted to know. We slowly built up information this way.

Ahmed al-Hada was originally from Thamar, Yemen. His brothers were well respected in the community, but he was considered the black sheep of the family, which was not financially well off. Hada’s son Abu Jaffar went to Afghanistan and joined al-Qaeda soon after bin Laden returned there from Sudan in 1996; he was a member of the Northern Group.

Around 1997, Abu Jaffar arranged the marriage of two of his sisters to two al-Qaeda operatives he had befriended in Afghanistan: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Ahmed Mohammed Haza al-Darbi. Both Darbi and Mihdhar traveled to Yemen to meet their future brides and got married in a double wedding ceremony attended by other al-Qaeda operatives. A few months later they returned to Afghanistan with their wives.

Hada’s other daughters also married al-Qaeda fighters. One of these sons-in-law was Mustafah al-Ansari, who used the alias Abed al-Kareem al-Maki. Mihdhar had introduced the family to Ansari. Like Darbi and Mihdhar himself, Ansari was a Saudi of Yemeni descent. We knew of him because he had been imprisoned in the Bayt Habra car theft incident, but we were not aware that he was related to Hada. Ansari was later killed while conducting an attack in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, against Western workers at an oil installation. The other of Hada’s al-Qaeda sons-in-law was Abed al-Wahab al-Maki, who was killed in 1999 in Juzor al-Molluk, Indonesia.

Hada was a cog in al-Qaeda’s operations in Yemen. Bashir al-Shadadi was the organization’s main travel facilitator in the country; he had also participated in the jihad in Bosnia, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. His role was to move recruits from Yemen to camps in Afghanistan. The person who helped him organize this movement of mujahideen was Abdul Razaq Saleh al-Nijjar, who was married to Shadadi’s sister. Yemeni recruits were received at the Kandahar guesthouse by Abu al-Kholoud, who was married to Shadadi’s other sister. The operative tasked with training recruits in the al-Farouq training camp was another brother-in law of Shadadi’s named Husam al-Deen al-Himyari. It was felt that blood loyalty would extend beyond ideology, making infiltration of the group less likely. Bin Laden’s son Mohammed, considered by al-Qaeda members to be most like his father, married the daughter of al-Qaeda’s then military commander, Abu Hafs al-Masri.

With his children all being al-Qaeda members, or married to them, Hada’s house in Sanaa naturally became a place where al-Qaeda operatives would meet. On most days someone was there having meetings or just stopping by for a chat. This is what led to his number’s becoming the al-Qaeda switchboard in Yemen. At one point Hada became upset at how high his telephone bill was, prompting Mihdhar to joke that Hada was a “penny-pincher.”

Tragedy struck Hada’s family when Abu Jaffar was electrocuted in 1999 while fishing in Duranta Lake in Afghanistan. He was in a boat with another al-Qaeda member while a third was on shore operating an electric transformer. They communicated by reflecting sun rays, using a mirror. The person on shore misinterpreted the movement of the mirror on the boat as a signal and flipped the switch while Abu Jaffar was still in the water collecting fish. He died instantly. Hada traveled to Afghanistan to visit his son’s grave and stayed with his then-pregnant daughter and her husband, Ahmed Mohammed Haza al-Darbi, who at the time was a trainer at al-Farouq.

Hada decided to join al-Qaeda. He underwent military training at Loghar. Bin Laden met him there and honored him because of his age and known loyalty. Other operatives took to calling him Am Ahmed (Uncle Ahmed). At the end of the training, a thirty-kilometer march was required, and the instructors at first excused Hada because of his age. He became upset, and they responded by appointing him leader of the march. He was proud of leading the formation and carrying its flag. The fighters referred to him as “Umda,” an Egyptian term that translates to “Mayor.”

After training, he wanted to participate in jihad. He was dispatched to the front lines to fight against the Northern Alliance troops of Ahmed Shah Massoud. Due to his age, he was kept in the rear, next to the artillery. Another of his sons, Samir (alias Abed Al-Rahman), joined him in Afghanistan and attended an al-Qaeda training camp. Samir was later killed when he blew himself up with a hand grenade after being cornered by Yemeni security during an al-Qaeda operation in Yemen.

Hada stayed in Afghanistan for about five months. On his way back to Yemen, he stopped in Kandahar, where bin Laden was hosting a dinner. Hada was honored by being seated next to bin Laden. After his return to Yemen, Hada encouraged his third son, Abu Khalil, to travel to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda.

     

 

2011 - 2018