The new head of al Qaeda remembers Osama bin Laden as a sensitive man who cried when his friends lost family members, remained close to his children despite the hard life of an international jihadist, and fondly remembered by name the 19 men who carried out the deadliest terrorist attack ever on US soil.
Longtime bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, now al Qaeda's new head, related these and other memories in a new video posted on jihadist websites on Tuesday. In the video al-Zawahri said he wants "to show the human side" of bin Laden's life. In doing so, he also is likely trying to boost his own popularity by emphasising his closeness to the terror group's former, more charismatic leader.
Throughout the 30-minute, conversational video al-Zawahri emphasises what he calls the "nobility" of bin Laden's character as well as his own proximity to him.
"People don't know that this man was tender, gentle kind with refined feelings, even when life was hard," al-Zawahri said. "We never saw a man like him."
Al-Zawahri told stories of how bin Laden remembered al Qaeda members who died fighting "jihad " or "holy war." He gave special mention to the hijackers who carried out the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
He recalled one time when he and bin Laden were hiding in the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora saying bin Laden wrote death certificates for each one of the hijackers fearing he would be killed "without remembering these heroic martyrs."