The spy who came in from al-Qaeda


Dean was brought up in Saudi Arabia, where opposition to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s made military jihad a noble concept. He was a teenager when Yugoslavia splintered, and Bosnian Muslims found themselves in mortal danger from Serb nationalists. He and a friend, Khalid al-Hajj - later to become the leader of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia - set off to become mujahideen.

I would say it was the most eye-opening experience I ever had. I was a bookish nerd from Saudi Arabia just weeks ago and then suddenly I find myself prancing up on the mountains of Bosnia holding an AK-47 feeling a sense of immense empowerment - and the feeling that I was participating in writing history rather than just watching history on the side.

And also at the same time, being in the military training camps, receiving knowledge that I never thought in a thousand years I would be receiving about warfare and war tactics and military manoeuvres, and to be receiving it alongside people from many different nationalities, with the one common factor among them that they were all Muslims. And they were all there in order to participate in the jihad in defence of the Bosnian population, was in itself also an overwhelming experience.

Q: You weren't afraid?...


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