Friday, July 20, 2007

The lighter side of Osama bin Laden

The Daily Telegraph interviews Osama Bin Laden's erstwhile cook. Mmmm, mutton korma -- something Bin Laden and I can agree on.

"If he was here today, then of course I would prepare him a mutton korma," said Akhtar, sitting under one of the apple trees in his Kabul orchard. "It was his absolute favourite, with a pilau full of almonds, orange peel and raisins."

Akhtar claimed that his Saudi employer, who often grumbled about his health and was a picky eater, rarely let anyone else prepare his food, mainly due to worries about being poisoned.

Life in bin Laden's cave close to the Pakistan border was predictably austere, dominated by prayer and talk of jihad. Bin Laden slept little, rising at midnight to fit in an extra set of prayers on top of Islam's standard five cycles.

Akhtar claimed he shared a room with bin Laden and Abu Maz, his Palestinian assistant. There was only one bed and bin Laden gave this to Akhtar because he was the oldest.

Every afternoon bin Laden delivered lengthy lectures to his followers offering Koranic justification for holy war. But he had a lighter side to him.

"He was always making so many jokes," claimed Akhtar. "He was always happy before he went home to Saudi Arabia and would say 'Uncle, I have four wives waiting for me. It's time for some fun'.

"We Afghans do not talk about our wives in this way."


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