Osama Bin Laden’s tape collection reveal one of his favorite singers was JEWISH, he was influenced by Gandhi and rebranded himself from playboy to military commander
Revelations emerge from 1,500 cassettes found in Khandahar, Afghanistan
Came from compound used by Al Qaeda leaders before 2001 U.S. invasion
Flagg Miller, an Arabic cultural expert, has been studying them since 2003
Surprising is lack of attacks on U.S., with more aimed at fellow Muslims
One of Osama Bin Laden’s favorite singers was Jewish it has been discovered, after an analysis of a collection of cassette tapes belonging to the late Al Qaeda leader.
They also show that the terrorist was also influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and worked hard to change his image from a rich Saudi ‘dandy’ to a warrior jihadist.
The details emerged from a study of 1,500 cassettes found in a compound in Khandahar, Afghanistan, where senior Al Qaeda leaders would meet before they were forced to flee by the U.S. invasion in 2001.
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The compound, in the same city where Bin Laden had been based since 1997, was looted and the tapes discovered by a local family, according to the BBC.
They took them to a cassette shop, apparently hoping to sell them so they could be wiped and recorded over with pop music, which had become lawful again since the fall of Taliban.
But a CNN cameraman heard of the haul and managed to persuade the shop owner to hand them over so they could be analysed.
They eventually ended up in the hands of Professor Flagg Miller, an expert in Arabic literature and culture from the University of California, Davis.
He was first handed the box of tapes in 2003 and has spoken to the BBC about the painstaking work of going through the collection which he has been undertaking ever since, culminating in a book The Audacious Ascetic.
The material dates back from the late 1960s through to 2001 and features around 200 speakers aside from Bin Laden.
One revelation was that a tape featuring a political speech on the Palestinian struggle was suddenly cut short by a song by Gaston Ghrenassia, who usually performed as Enrico Macias.
Given Al Qaeda’s deep antisemitism, it was surprising to Miller to find the music of a French-Algerian Jew ringing out on the tape.
Miller said: ‘These songs suggest that someone, at some point in their life, was enjoying the songs of this French-Algerian Jew – and may have continued to enjoy them despite other struggles that clearly would have suggested doing so was heresy.’
Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian struggle for independence from the British Empire, also makes an appearance.
He is the inspiration for a Bin Laden speech in September 1993 calling on supporters to boycott U.S. goods – just as ‘Gandhi the Hindu’ declared one on British goods.
The future Al Qaeda leader left his gilded life as the scion of a wealthy industrialist family in Saudi Arabia to go and fight the Soviet ‘infidel’ invaders of Afghanistan.
He is first heard on a tape from 1987 speaking during a battle between Afghan-Arab mujahideen and Russian Spetsnaz forces.
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