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Bin Laden's mentor a reformed man

Once known as the mentor of the terror mastermind, Saudi preacher Sheikh Salman Al-Odah is now a changed man and believes that extremists stand between people and the "beautiful message of religion".

world Updated: Jan 06, 2008 10:45 IST

Once known as the mentor of Osama bin Laden, Saudi preacher Sheikh Salman Al-Odah is now a changed man and believes that extremists stand between people and the "beautiful message of religion".

Al-Odah was imprisoned for five years from 1994 to 1999 for opposing the presence of US troops in the Kingdom during the first Gulf War and supporting 'jihad' against American troops.

One of the Kingdom's senior religious figures, Al-Odah told 'Arab News' that his imprisonment was a self-awakening experience to reflect, contemplate and re-evaluate his positions in life.

In a radical shift in ideology, Al-Odah now says he believes that extremists stand between people and the beautiful message of religion.

His incarceration, much of it spent reading, left an evident imprint on his mind. Al-Odah said he left prison to become more objective, lenient and well reasoned in his thoughts and approach, the newspaper reported.

In prison he spent time reading science, technology, politics, economy, health, poetry and literature to complement the Islamic-related activities he later became involved in, the report said.