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Sports buff Osama has marital woes

world Updated: Apr 19, 2010 01:37 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden lives under the protection of loyal tribesmen in Pakistan, indulging his fondness for reading and playing volleyball, according to one of his ex-bodyguards.

He is unlikely to be captured alive, having once instructed the bodyguard to put “two bullets in my head” before any such thing happened.

Nasser al-Bahri’s disclosures about his former boss at work and play have been hitting the headlines in Europe after the publication in France last week of his memoir, In the Shadow of Bin Laden: Revelations of a Repentant Bodyguard, written in collaboration with French journalist Georges Malbrunot.

Al-Bahri, a Saudi citizen who reportedly provided the first substantial evidence to the CIA linking bin Laden to 9/11, says the Qaeda leader was keen to watch the Twin Towers come down live on TV in his mountain hideout.

However, it proved impossible to get satellite signals in the remote Afghan mountains.

Bin Laden, al Bahri said, is a natural volleyball player — “he is so tall he does not need to jump up to do a smash” — and a voracious reader who loves to quote the memoirs of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who led the British army during World War II, and the late French president Gen Charles de Gaulle.

The book also touches on bin Laden’s domestic life, saying he was powerless to stop his first wife — a “seductive” Syrian — from being jealous of the second — an older Saudi woman — and that four of his wives were trained in the use of a Kalashnikov.