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August 07, 2008

'Diary of a terrorist'

_44888737_fazul_fbi226bTo mark today's 10th anniversary of the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper this week has been publishing what it claims are excerpts from the diary of the man that the FBI says planned those attacks and others: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. The newspaper says the diary, written in Arabic, was found on a laptop carried by Fazul's wife in January 2007, when she was arrested on the Kenya-Somalia border.

He's reportedly evaded capture in Kenya several times -- and over the weekend Kenyan authorities said they again narrowly missed capturing him in the coastal town of Malindi, where he was staying with friends. Kenya has since arrested several people believed to be his associates.

U.S. officials (who have a $5 million bounty on his head) accuse Fazul of being many things: al Qaida's main man in East Africa, a master of disguise, a computer whiz, a habitual wearer of baseball caps. But his memoir, if we assume it to be authentic (and I have my doubts), also presents Fazul as a racist, a would-be physician, a bit of a mama's boy, a xenophobe, a writer of run-on sentences, and rather surprisingly weak-stomached for an alleged terrorist mastermind.

On America:
"Have you awakened from your slumber, O Muslims? Have you forgotten that only a few decades ago America called us mujahedeen? Why have they changed their opinions and characterized us as murderous terrorists? It is because we have not abandoned our principles."

On leaving his native Comoros to attend an Islamic school in Lahore, Pakistan:
"The atmosphere was a little cool...when I bade my brothers and sisters farewell and got into the car with my mother. Sadness showed on the face of my mother who didn't know what would happen to me on the way because the trip was long and it was not a direct flight to Lahore....My mother kept on urging me to be courageous, to be wary of thieves and not to mix with foreigners I did not know....I realized that I had become a man and was no longer a child....Ten days later, we had still not arrived in Karachi and I was well aware that my mother was very worried about me. She was always on my mind. I missed her. Who was going to do my laundry and cook for me? I had a thousand questions on my mind. But one must be strong in such situations."

On deciding to undergo jihadi training in Pakistan:
"I said to my mother: 'I have heard that some Comoro young men have graduated from military colleges in Pakistan.'
'Who told you this?' asked my mother....'All I want you to do is enroll in the university and to focus on any specialization that you deem appropriate. After you finish your studies, if you get an opportunity for military studies, there is no objection."...
To be utterly frank, I wished to be a physician. However, I knew that Allah does what he wishes.

On education:
"We must, of course, raise our children with the love of jihad. We have to raise a new generation with an education totally opposed to the Western education that is imposed on us. All young men dream of going to Europe, but Allah knows I hated Europe with all my heart."

On India:
"I didn't like India. Although I know it is the land of my ancestors, I have an instinctive hatred for cow worshipers. The airport was big, but it smelled bad because of the chemicals they use to clean the place, overcrowding and pollution....I had not seen a more deplorable plane....It was like a bus, and I have to go to the lavatory several times to throw up because of that bad smell."


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Clearly Fazul is a genius. I'm sure he found the cities of Pakistan far cleaner than those in India?

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Somewhere in Africa was written by McClatchy correspondent Shashank Bengali, who covered sub-Saharan Africa from 2005 to 2009. He's now based in Washington, D.C., as a national correspondent.

Read Shashank's stories at news.mcclatchy.com or send him a story idea.


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