x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

New Al Qaeda leader praises 'human side' of bin Laden

Bin Laden's deputy, who succeeded him as the leader of Al Qaeda, describes former leader as a 'kind and loyal friend' who often cried in public.

WASHINGTON // Osama bin Laden was a kind and loyal friend who honoured the September 11 hijackers and often cried in public, according to his deputy who succeeded him as the leader of Al Qaeda.

In a 30-minute video posted on jihadist forums on Tuesday, Ayman Al Zawahiri praised what he called the "human side" of Al Qaeda's founder, who was killed in a US raid in Pakistan in May.

Most people think of bin Laden as "the lion of Islam ... roaring that America will not dream of security and threatening America", Al Zawahiri said, according to the Washington-based Site intelligence group, which translated the video.

"However, people don't know that this man was gentle, patient, and nice, with soft feelings and intense shyness."

He described how bin Laden used to speak of the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks "with extreme loyalty", mentioning them by name in a speech after escaping a Nato assault on his Afghan stronghold of Tora Bora in 2001.

Bin Laden "used to get sad in his heart if he felt that his brothers on the path of jihad were oppressed or didn't get their due rights", he said.

Al Zawahiri said bin Laden often grew emotional around his followers. "His eyes used to tear up when he gave speeches or spoke or supplicated. He was known for his ready tears and crying."

* Agence France-Presse