'Khalid' - A jihadi's tale
From today's Observer:
He married an Irish waitress...
During his time in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Somalia, he waged jihad wherever his Muslim brothers needed him.First stop Afghanistan and then Bosnia, where he came second in a face-off with a Serb.
Khalid's jihad began with a videotape he viewed at a mosque in Sanaa in 1989.
It took Khalid several years to recover from his wounds. In 1996, he joined a group of Arab fighters going to Kosovo... however, the Serbs had already sealed off the country, making it impossible for him to enter. Unable to join the jihad, Khalid decided to move to England, where many of the brothers had settled.Jihadis always welcome here - it helps with our cultural diversity, dontcha know?
He married an Irish waitress...
Right after that, the misery began. Khalid tried to control her and force her to wear the hijab, the headscarf worn by devout Muslim women. Their arguments were so loud that neighbours knocked on the door and banged on the walls. He realised the way he treated her was wrong, but he didn't know any other way. They separated, and Khalid got a British passport out of the marriage.He went to Somalia to help a radical Muslim faction trying to impose Sharia. From there is was on to Chechnya but he failed to get into the country. Only one thing for it...
Khalid returned to the only life he knew.
He headed back to Britain, returning to his job as a clerk at the corner shop…always on the lookout for the next opportunity.Which came in 2001 - back to Afghanistan.
On 11 September, Khalid was near Kabul when a Libyan cleric announced that the World Trade Center had been destroyed. Everyone in the camp exploded in jubilation [if only - DFH]- the mood was exhilarating, insane, like Mecca at the height of the hajj.Then the Americans invaded.
After a few weeks, as the relentless bombing continued, a message arrived from bin Laden: any mujahideen who could still travel should return to their home countries. There was no point in dying in Afghanistan. 'There was no way to fight a decent war there with the Americans,' Khalid recalled.So he returned to Britain with the help of pro-Taliban Iranians. This time he was detained.
They questioned him for five days. As the interrogation continued, however, Khalid came to see that he was safer in Britain, protected by this country's laws, than many of his brothers detained by the Americans in Afghanistan.Which meant he was able to go to Iraq, where he joined a group ambushing American forces.
Realising that the police had nothing on him, he denied everything. They finally let him go, unable to hold him without further evidence.
After three months in Iraq, Khalid returned to Britain through Syria. But jihad seemed to shadow him everywhere.I wonder why.
One evening, Khalid heard a helicopter overhead. Seconds later the police kicked in the door, handcuffed him and arrested him on suspicion of terrorism. People on his block couldn't believe that the friendly guy who sat behind the counter at their corner store was an al-Qaeda fighter...How nice.
After Khalid spent a week in prison they let him out, just like they always did. They didn't have enough evidence to keep him. When he was released, his next-door neighbours, mostly white Britons, were there to welcome him home. 'I might doubt my own son,' one old man said, 'but I'll always believe Khalid.'
After the arrest, Khalid returned to Iraq for two more months in 2004... Living in safe houses, he once again went out on raids against the Americans. He believed the insurgents killed about 10 soldiers from the other side...He lives in Yemen now.
Every few days he walks down to a call centre and phones his brother in England. He doubts he can ever go back to the life he knew there. He often visited the mosques frequented by the London bombers, and he fears police will arrest him if he returns.Yeah, but he'd only be detained for a few days.