Bin Laden’s Mentor Turns on Him

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“Are you happy to meet Allah with this heavy burden on your shoulders?” Al Oadah, a highly prolific scholar and media commentator, presses bin Laden. “It is a weighty burden indeed — at least hundreds of thousands of innocent people, if not millions [displaced and killed].”  

Osama Bin Laden’s mentor has turned on him, in essence saying that he is not fighting a holy war, or jihad, but instead is waging an unholy war against society (Hirabah,) in Dar Al Islam, the lands ruled by Islam. This editorial in Daily Times sums that up, as well as the change in Bin Laden evident in last tape.

In an open letter, one of his prominent Saudi mentors, preacher and scholar Salman Al Oadah, publicly reproaches bin Laden for causing widespread mayhem and killing. “How many innocent children, elderly people, and women were killed in the name of Al Qaeda?” asks Al Oadah on his website, Islamtoday.com, and in comments on an Arabic television station. “How many people were forced to flee their homes and how much blood was shed in the name of Al Qaeda?” The reaction of his former pupil is not known, but the angry denunciation by bin Laden’s supporters leaves no doubt that it hurts.

The significance of that can be appreciated only in the context of the position al Oadah holds in Islamic orthodoxy. He’s a heavyweight Salafi preacher with a large following in Saudi Arabia and abroad. In the 1990s the Saudi regime imprisoned Al Oadah, along with four leading clerics, for criticising the kingdom’s close relationship with the US, particularly the stationing of American troops there after the 1991 Gulf war. That decision — posting forces in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam — was the catalyst that drove bin Laden to attack the US. Throughout the 1990s bin Laden cited Al Oadah as a dissident voice and critic of the Saudi royal family and fellow Salafi traveler who shared his strict religious principles and worldview.

In one of the most honest assessments to date, the Cleric goes on to lay all the ills that have befallen Islamic countries post-9/11 squarely on Usama Bin Laden’s shoulders. It’s heartening that someone in the Islamic world who is certainly not friendly to the US sees the true unholy evil that Al Qaeda inspires.

It’s also clear that Bin Laden has strayed far from his roots and home, and now panders to the western press, pimping phrases suitable for a politician running for office in New York.