American tells of meeting bin Laden before 9/11

2014-03-07 12:02
(AP)

(AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

New York - An American who trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 before losing his nerve testified Thursday how he encountered Osama bin Laden and the terror group's spokesman at a safe house — and that bin Laden hinted that a suicide attack on U.S. soil was in the works.

"Just know you have brothers willing to carry their souls in their hands," bin Laden told the witness, Sahim Alwan, and other recruits, Alwan said on the witness stand in federal court in Manhattan.

Asked what he thought that meant, Alwan responded, "To die".

His testimony came at the trial of bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who's accused of plotting to kill Americans by being a motivational speaker at al-Qaeda training camps before the September 11 attacks and as a spokesman for the terror group afterward when it sought to recruit more militants to its cause.

Alwan, 41, was among a half-dozen men who became known as the Lackawanna Six after their arrests on charges of providing material support to terrorists by attending bin Laden's al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan in 2001. He pleaded guilty in 2003 and served about seven years behind bars.

Testifying under subpoena, Alwan told jurors that he became an aspiring jihadist after worshipping at a mosque in Lackawanna, the western New York city where he grew up. In April of 2001, he travelled to Pakistan and crossed the border to Afghanistan, where he was directed to the safe house to wait for an assignment to a training camp.

While staying there, bin Laden showed up in a truck with an entourage of AK-47-toting men with masks on their faces, Alwan said. He testified that he recognized bin Laden as the FBI's "most wanted guy".

Suicide missions

He also testified that Abu Ghaith showed up at the house days later and explained an Islamic oath, or "bayat". He said the defendant told the men that if they swore allegiance to bin Laden, they were also expected to back the Taliban.

The recruits were shown a video depicting the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbour in Yemen that killed 17 American sailors, Alwan said. Prosecutors say the video was narrated by Abu Ghaith, and portions of it were shown to jurors Thursday.

After seeing the video and understanding who was behind the USS Cole attack and the bombings of two US embassies in Africa in August 1998 that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans, he said, "I knew I was in over my head".

Once at the camp, where bin Laden visited the trainees one day, Alwan informed his trainers that he wanted to go home. He said he even faked an ankle injury, hoping to be sent to Kandahar.

But he was told that he needed to meet face-to-face with bin Laden first and that the al-Qaeda leader knew he was from the United States even though he and the others had been warned not to disclose that fact.

He testified that Bin Laden quizzed him about America, asking, "How are Muslims there? ... How are the youth there? What do they think of the operations?" By operations, Alwan said, he assumed bin Laden meant suicide missions.

"I just said, 'Oh we don't think about it,'" he testified.

- AP

Read more on:    osama bin laden  |  us  |  september 11 attacks
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Bellville - 16:22 PM
    Road name: N1 Outbound
    DELAYS between Plattekloof Road and the Durban Road exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 16:22 PM
    Road name: N2 Outbound
    DELAYS through Borcherds Quarry Road Interchange
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Y (Young) is tiny but powerful with Android...

From R1499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.