December 7, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 1042

Saudi Al-Qaeda Terrorists Recount Their Experiences in Afghanistan on Saudi TV and Arab Channels

December 7, 2005
Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan | Special Dispatch No. 1042

The following are excerpts from interviews with Saudi Al-Qaeda terrorists, which aired on Saudi Channel 1, Al-Majd, and Al-Arabiya on November 29, 2005. The excerpts from Saudi Channel 1 are part of a new five- part series aimed at discouraging Saudi youth from jihad, and describes what they experienced fighting alongside Al-Qaeda leader Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. In the coming days, MEMRI TV will include more segments from the series.


Al-Arabiya TV

Abdallah Khoja, former Al-Qaeda member: "The Emir of the Uzbek mujahideen in Afghanistan came to Taif, where I worked. I wanted to meet with Taher Khan, so I found him and talked to him about my strong desire to go to Afghanistan or to any region where there is fighting for the sake of Allah, under a clear banner. He said that, Allah willing, he would take me with him. He said: 'You may not be able to bear it, since you all live a carefree life of luxury here.' I said to him: 'No, Allah willing, I will endure it.'"

Ziyad Ibrahim 'Asfan, former Al-Qaeda member: "I returned to Afghanistan by myself, and I joined the training camps. At first, I joined a camp called the Al-Sadiq camp. The course was very simple, it lasted two or three weeks, and involved training in small arms. Of course, you are all familiar with songs of enthusiasm and bravery that always deal with... the conspiracies of the Jews and Christians against the Muslim countries, and especially our main cause - which is Palestine."

Abdallah Khoja, former Al-Qaeda member: "We crossed the border, and entered. We simply crossed the border on foot. We wore full Afghan garb. Of course, we had to disguise ourselves a little, so nobody would notice that you were Arab or that you came from an Arab country."


"I asked to go to a training camp. I asked what the next stage was. I was told I had to go to a training camp, and to undergo training, to be patient, and not to ask too many questions. I went there, and had training in small arms. I went in, and met a group of men, Arabs and non-Arabs, Daghestanis, French, British, German, American, all Muslim mujahideen. I liked them. There were Pakistanis, Africans, Indonesians, from all over the world.

"Once a Yemenite said to me: 'Allah willing, we will enter Riyadh as conquerors.' I resented this. I asked him: 'Why should you enter as conquerors? Our people are there, our brothers and sisters are there.' He said to me: 'You don't understand.' There was one Algerian who used to talk with contempt. I was hurt by him. It was the first time I had heard such things. I was shocked, I was angry, I was mad - what kind of talk is this? I went to talk with the Emir of the training camp, who was Eritrean. He said: 'Don't mix with them, leave them alone. We've had trouble with them too.'

"This was the Khaldan camp of Abdallah Azzam. In that camp there was a group of Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians, Libyans, Moroccans, Saudis, Yemenites, Daghestanis, Chechens, Dutch... Abu Talha the Dutchman, was there, and so was Abu Khaled the Frenchman, who was black. He talked in classical Arabic. We had disagreements. They used to say bad things about the clerics and sheikhs."

Al-Majd TV

Walid Khan, former Al-Qaeda member: "The problem was that most of the Arabs there were Jordanians, supporters of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. We mixed with them. The problem was they didn't care about anyone but their sheikh, al-Maqdisi. They belonged to the Jordanian Bay'at Al-Imam, organized from 1995. They pledged allegiance to al-Maqdisi and were in jail for five years. They were sentenced to 15 years. They served five years and then were pardoned. So they went to Afghanistan. Their ideology further developed there. Of course, they accused the government, the army, and the police of heresy. This is the most dangerous group. I understood that they had differences of opinion with bin Laden on a number of issues and positions. Of course, we understood that only later.

"From the day al-Zarqawi's group arrived, there were [disagreements]."


"Some of their leaders were in complete opposition. But they needed money. At one point, there were only 10,000 Kalashnikov bullets on the entire front. The only thing they wanted was money. Whoever supports them now will control them, and will impose his positions: 'You want money? I will give you money, on condition that you do such-and-such for me.' They'll agree to it whether they like it or not. At that moment, al-Zarqawi arrived. He saw that their situation was very difficult. They had no money and were thinking of reaching a truce with the Taliban. He said: 'No way.' He got mad and left. They said: 'Why are you mad?', and so they had problems with him. So he sent them one of his men, Abu Muhammad, to see what their condition was. He stayed with them five months, and then wrote a report, saying the only thing they needed was money. He gave them some $500,000, which breathed new life into them. Now these people are grateful to al-Zarqawi, next to Allah, because he saved them. That's it, now he controls them. If you want to control any Jihad front in the world, you should finance it."

Khoja: "The guys were scared. If I saw a guy I trusted, I wouldn't ask him where he was from, where he knew so-and-so. The guys are careful, and are afraid. You shouldn't ask too many questions. The guys told me not to ask too many questions. When asked, you have to answer. They tell you, that's so-and-so, and that's such-an-such, and [you] shouldn't ask them if they are from Najd, the Eastern Province, from Yemen, Iraq, India, or China. Keep it to yourself, because the guys are afraid that you might be intelligence. So you have to keep to yourself, so that the guys don't hate you."

Saudi Channel 1

'Asfan: "They told us that Islam will only be well with the collapse of this infidel, hypocritical, apostate country, which shields the Jews and Christians, and the Jews hide behind it... They kept repeating these things all the time - that Allah had shown us that many Muslim and Arab countries are infidel, but that this [Saudi Arabia] of all countries, alone among all these countries, is a great evil, and is more evil and more dangerous than the rest."

Khan: "Take, for example, the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and the Mufti. Everybody, or maybe three-quarters of the men, or 90% of the men I met in the Jihad - do not follow the Mufti or the Council of Senior Religious Scholars."

Khoja: "I said that Abu Bakr al-Jazairi is a sheikh and an [important] cleric in Al-Madina. They said to me: 'He's a cleric who works only with air-conditioning. His Muslim nation is not his top priority. He has a salary in his pocket. He issues religious rulings from an air-conditioned room.' I was in shock. These were strange things, which I was hearing for the first time. How can you say such things about Sheikhs Ibn al-'Aithmein and Ibn Baz, who are great scholars and the imams of the nation. He said: 'They are not fighting the Jihad with us.'"

'Asfan: "They would constantly give us examples and say: 'Look at those Arab and Muslim countries - how they are preparing themselves, and building all these armies and how the soldiers in these armies are all enduring difficulties for the sake of the sultans' thrones.'"

Al-Majd TV

'Asfan: "They kept telling us we must endure difficulties. I kept hearing these things while we were climbing mountains, and walking through wadis... I kept hearing we must be patient and determined, and have the proper intent, because with this intent we will build an Islamic army that, Allah willing, will proceed from Kabul to Palestine and Al-Aqsa."

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