Osama bin Laden, as we know, was killed in a surprise raid by the US Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, but many in the Arab world believe he is alive, having been captured by the Americans alive.
A famous Kuwaiti political commentator stoked a controversy yesterday by claiming in a TV interview that he had serious doubts that Bin Laden was killed by the Americans.
Dr Abdullah Al Nefaisi holds a PhD in political science from the University of Cambridge and was a professor of political science in Kuwait University. Born in 1945, he also taught for a while at Al Ain University in the UAE.
The political scientist, a respected figure not only in the GCC region but all over the Arab world, has had a stint as a parliamentarian as well: He was a member of the Kuwaiti parliament in the mid-1980s.
Al Nefaisi’s comments in a Kuwait-based TV interview (Rotana Khaleejia) that he believed Bin Laden might have been captured alive by the Americans led to huge reactions from people all over the region, particularly on social media such as Twitter.
A gist of the interview, along with its footage in a video clipping, was carried by ‘sabq’, a prominent Kuwait-based news website in Arabic.
Interestingly, nearly all those who commented on Al Nefaisi’s interview on the ‘sabq’ website said they never believed that Bin Laden was killed by the Americans and that his body was consigned to the sea.
Al Nefaisi said in the interview: “Bin Laden might have been taken alive by the Americans, as it is only logical to think that they must be too keen to study the phenomenon of Al Qaeda and that of Bin Laden himself.
“The American story that a superpower like the US had been on Bin Laden’s trail for 11 years and spent billions of dollars to hunt him down seems unconvincing.
“I believe that he was captured alive and they are telling the world that they killed him and threw his body in the sea.
“The theory of his killing seems to have been cooked up as the Americans might have thought of putting an end to the story surrounding the Al Qaeda leader. I believe he is alive and with the Americans.”
Al Nefaisi said Al Qaeda did not remain the same as it was when Bin Laden was heading it.
“It’s an outfit in disarray. It isn’t a united force as it used to be in the days when Bin Laden was at its helm. Today, the organisation remains a loose force, with a number of groups and leaders claiming to represent the ideology of Al Qaeda.
“The phenomenon of Bin Laden has changed the general mood in the Islamic world,” Al Nefaisi said in the interview, which, incidentally, was to focus on the issue of Iran and the “troubles” it was causing in the region (read the Arab world).