Al-Qaeda Family: Al-Qaeda attacks
CBC News Online | March 3, 2004
In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime was methodically imposing its draconian version of Islamic government. All bottles of alcohol were gathered up and destroyed. The population was ordered into football stadiums to witness executions by stoning and the cutting off of hands according to Sharia or Islamic law. People were regularly hanged and strung up in the streets as an example to others.
The women of the Canadian Khadr family were Taliban supporters.
This is the punishment in Islamic law; they cut off the hand." Zaynab says. "If you commit adultery and you're married, you get stoned. If you committed [adultery] and you're not married, you get whipped. It's ordered that Muslims watch this. They don't watch it because it's something good for [you]. They watch it to learn.
"To get the lesson," Maha says.
"Yeah. So when people do that when people become frightened of doing that mistake, it makes them know it will not go unnoticed," Zaynab says. "It will not go unpunished. And it makes them think twice before they do something. I've seen the people hung. Yeah, I've seen them. They were in the middle of the road."
"What did they do? They were caught planting bombs. They deserve it. At least nobody else will be doing that. Everybody who crosses that and looks at them, I'm not going to do that. No way do I want to be hung over there."
In the year 2000, Abdurahman Khadr in Kabul, Afghanistan, resumed his rebellious behaviour toward al-Qaeda, the Taliban and his father. He was smoking, drinking and chasing girls. His father was ready to disown him.
"My father always considered me the cancer in their body, and that's why he kicked me out of the house more than once," Abdurahman says. "He said, you are like the cancer in this, in this house. And I have to cut you out right now or you're going to infect the rest of the family. He always referred to me like this. That you are the one that smokes, drinks, wants to wants to, you know, work his own mind and you're going to make your brothers like this, so I don't want to keep you because I want your brothers to be good Muslims."
In Afghanistan under the Taliban, women were forced to be covered from head to foot. They were not allowed out in public without male supervision. Girls' schools were closed. According to Zaynab Khadr, the Taliban was worried about communism in the classroom.
"I for one could understand sometimes why they had these restrictions for things for girls," Zaynab says. "They wanted girls to be educated Islamically. It's their right, it is their government, and they believe in Islamic law, so they wanted their girls to be educated Islamically. Since Afghanistan had been ruled by the Russians or the Soviets for the last 20 years, they didn't have many Islamic ladies to teach these girls, so they, for them it was better for these girls not to learn than to learn to be
" Maha says.
for her to be ignorant is better than for her to be communist," Zaynab says.
Abdurahman Khadr says that he tried to run away from his father and al-Qaeda numerous times in 1998 and 1999. He claims that he went to the Canadian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan and begged them to help him return to Canada. He says they refused to help him.
"I told them my father is not living a Canadian life, "Ardurahman says. "We don't have any education, you know. We're not living as a Canadian family. I can't take this life anymore. He has connections to bad people. And I just want to get out of here."
"I didn't tell them who exactly. Well he has connections to al-Qaeda, to Osama, to all those people. They weren't concerned about that."
In fact, the Canadian government was already well aware of Ahmed Said Khadr's connection to
al-Qaeda. His name appeared with that of Osama bin Laden on a list of top al-Qaeda terror suspects issued by the United Nations in 1999.
After he was turned away from the Canadian Embassy in Islamabad. Abdurahman had to go home to face his father. "My dad told me, if you ever betray Islam or if you ever sell out on us for anyone else, I will be the one to kill you. If you do something wrong, in Islam law, you're supposed to be killed. Before anyone else, I'll kill you."
In the year 2000, al-Qaeda's war against the United States intensified. First came the suicide bombing against the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors.
Then in 2001, those close to Osama bin Laden began to hear that plans were underway for a major al-Qaeda attack against the Americans. Bin Laden was always evasive when asked about his intentions.
"Because he always used to say, whenever you heard it, that there are people outside who are working and just pray that they are protected, that no harm should befall them," Zaynab says. "And we would always say when, what is going to happen, and he'd always say, I don't know. I know something is happening, but I don't know what and I don't know where."
Al-Qaeda's elaborate plans were revealed on Sept. 11, 2001 when the two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York, killing almost 2,500 civilians.
Once again, Abdurahman Khadr watched the television reports about the Sept. 11 attack in an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.
"When I saw the video, I was like looking at it and all and everybody was smiling, laughing, and I was just looking at it, you know," he says. "And I saw this person jumping out of the building, you know, committing suicide, from the building
and I didn't think it was funny, you know."
"To be honest with you, since I am Palestinian and I know the Americans are helping the Israelis so much, I said let them have it. It's time, it's time," Maha says. "I don't want you to think [I wanted to hurt] innocent people in the building, but I want to hurt that person, whoever gave the order to the Israeli to kill the Palestinian. But you know, innocent people pay the price, even in Afghanistan."
"I don't think whoever did that really wanted to kill all these people, or to kill people who had nothing to do with anything, but he really wanted to hit the American government where it will hurt. Not the people, but it. I mean sometimes innocent people pay the price," Zaynab says.
"You don't want to feel happy, but you just sort of think they deserve it, they've been doing it for such a long time, why shouldn't they feel it once in a while?" Maha says.
All the al-Qaeda people around Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan knew that the Sept. 11 attacks meant that American bombs were on the way and that American soldiers would likely follow.
In al-Qaeda households all over the country, possessions were packed up and families prepared to flee. As the Khadr family prepared to hide out in the hills along the Pakistan-Afghan border, Abdurahman made a fateful decision. He would try to get away from his family and get back to Canada.
"If you go back to your family, what are you going to get? All you're going to get is running up and down hills, valleys, staying in mud huts, running for the rest of your life until you get shot. And I didn't want that any more. I was sick of it. I had had enough of it. I just wanted it to stop," he says.
Two months after the World Trade Center attack, Abdurahman was in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The Taliban was fleeing the capital, which was being taken over by the Northern Alliance backed by the American and the British. In the chaos, Abdurahman became separated from his family.
In that time period in Kabul, any Arab was suspected of affiliation to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The Americans were offering a bounty on any al-Qaeda member and many Arabic-looking foreigners were being rounded up. Abdurahman Khadr was arrested and released several times, but eventually ended up in an Afghan prison. After six weeks, he was passed over to the American forces.
"When the Americans started interrogating me, that's when I realized that there is no way out of this except to, like, you know, tell them, you know, OK, I'll co-operate with them because this is
this was their only way," he says. "They said, you know, you work with us or, you know what, we can keep you here, we can take you to Cuba, we can do anything with you. Right now, no one in the world cares about this."
Abdurahman's decision to co-operate with the Americans would have profound consequences for his family and the next two years of his life.