Entries in Will (1)


Did Osama Bin Laden Tell Sons Not to Join Al Qaeda?

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a document purporting to be the last will and testament of Osama bin Laden, the life-long terror chief allegedly apologizes to his children for devoting his life to jihad and tells them not to join al Qaeda.

The document, first published in a Lebanese newspaper in 2001, has resurfaced several times, including this week following confirmation of bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. soldiers.

Despite the document's longevity and ubiquity -- it was even cited in a recent Senate report -- U.S. intelligence sources are skeptical of its authenticity.

In the will, bin Laden apologizes to his children for spending so much time devoted to jihad. He tells them not work for al Qaeda. He compares himself to a seventh century caliph and suggests if they want to climb the ranks of the terror network, they must do so by their own murderous deeds and not by riding his bloody coattails.

"As for you my children: Forgive me for not giving you except but a minimum amount of my time since I have begun my call for jihad," bin Laden allegedly writes in the will. "And I advise you not to join in the work of al Qaeda."

The document's contradictions -- a boastful list of deadly accomplishments that includes the 1993 U.S. embassy bombing in Kenya and the 9/11 terror attacks along with his apology for jihad -- has led experts both inside and outside the U.S. government to debate its authenticity.

Bin Laden tells his children not to join al Qaeda, but by many accounts, including those of his own children, the terror chief was grooming his offspring to take over.

"He never asked me to join al Qaeda, but he did tell me I was the son chosen to carry on his work," Omar bin Laden, Osama's son and author of "Growing Up Bin Laden" told the Guardian in 2009.

Omar bin Laden also recounted in his book his indignation when his father suggested his sons volunteer to be suicide bombers.

Another son, Saad Bin Laden, who was killed in a 2009 drone attack, is believed to have been a close confidant of his father who fought alongside him in Pakistan. A second son, Khalid, died with bin Laden during the SEAL raid on Sunday.

For Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside Al Qaeda" and head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, bin Laden's reluctance to guarantee his sons a leadership role in al Qaeda ironically helps prove the document likely is genuine.

"I have no doubt this document is real," he said. "Despite being puritanical, bin Laden had a rather modern management style," Gunaratna said.

"He didn't want them to inherit what he built simply because they were his sons," he said. "He wanted them to work from the bottom up." Bin Laden also allegedly insists that his four wives not remarry after his death.

"Do not think of remarrying for it is sufficient for you to care for our children and sacrifice for them and make prayers for them," he allegedly wrote.

Lending credence to its possible authenticity is the date. The will dated Dec. 14, 2001 was released at the same time as "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," a book written by Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"The will and the book were both released when al Qaeda's leadership was most at risk following 9/11 and both men looked for ways to make their final wishes known," Gunaratna said.

"Zawahiri is a prolific writer, but bin Laden is not. This particular document was to be a testament because [bin Laden] believed he would be killed," he said.

Gunaratna also said the signature at the bottom of the document belonged to bin Laden.

In a 2009, report released by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about the U.S. failure to capture bin Laden earlier, says the will is "regarded as authentic."

Calls to the committee asking for how the document was authenticated were not immediately returned.

But for the man who first raised the alarm about al Qaeda and hunted bin Laden in the days following 9/11, the document is an obvious fraud.

"It's a Saudi fabrication and it's been around for years," said Michael Scheuer, a veteran CIA agent who headed the secretive Bin Laden Issue Station, nicknamed Alec Station, and was later the chief of the bin Laden Unit.

"Nothing in it resembles bin Laden's thought patterns," he said. "The structure of the language is all wrong. One thing that never appears in his documents is despair, and this thing is full of despair."

"It's a direct contradiction to what we know about bin Laden," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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