Dr Abdullah Al Nefaisi
Former Kuwaiti parliamentarian and political scientist Dr Abdullah Al Nefaisi, it seems, has stirred a hornets’ nest by saying in a TV interview yesterday that he believed that Osama bin Laden was alive as the Americans might have captured him alive.
Social media, including Twitter, which is active in the region, was abuzz with comments on his interview.
And comments from across the region were also pouring in until the time of going to press on the Kuwaiti news website, ‘sabq’ which carried a gist of Al Nefaisi’s interview and a video clipping of its excerpts.
Comments on social media and ‘sabq’ provide an interesting insight into what people across the Arab world generally think about Bin Laden and his killing in a raid by the US Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
Interestingly, except for one tweet, which said Al Nefaisi’s claims were childish, and a comment or two on ‘sabq’ that were critical of him, others seemed to agree with his view.
“Yes, I endorse the idea that he (Bin Laden) is alive,” said a commentator on ‘sabq’, reacting to Al Nefaisi’s interview.
Another, who gave his initials as Hatim, said he was convinced that the militant leader was not killed.
“Had he been killed, they (the Americans) would have shown his body. Instead, they simply said they had thrown his corpse in the sea.”
“The Americans presented the story (of Bin Laden’s killing) to the world in a Hollywood film style —which they always do when cooking up such stories,” was how another commentator reacted, not giving his name.
“I agree with Al Nefaisi, for it is not logical to think that after 11 years of manhunt they found him and simply killed him,” said another commentator.
Not showing Bin Laden’s body was evidence enough that he was alive, said another.
“I think the story of his killing was concocted to convince the American people that Bin Laden was dead and that they were safe now,” reacted yet another commentator.
One commentator, who seemed to differ with Al Nefaisi and those who said they were convinced by his argument, was critical of Bin Laden and said he soiled the image of Muslims the world over and painted them as terrorists.
Agreeing with him, another commentator said Bin Laden was responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
“What he has given us is death and destruction… Nations have been destroyed.”
One Sadiq said there was a message from the American administration (in the story of Al Qaeda leader’s killing): “Anyone who is wanted by Washington would be killed like Al Zarqawi.”
Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi was the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Jordanian was also a fighter in Afghanistan, and was killed in Iraq by the US forces on June 7, 2006. He was responsible for several deadly attacks on the US forces in Iraq.
When they (the Americans) killed the sons of Saddam Hussein (after the US raid on Iraq a little more than a decade ago) they showed their bodies on the TV, said one commentator.
“But in the case of Bin Laden, they didn’t, and this means that he is alive and with the Americans, as claimed by Dr Al Nefaisi.”
Another commentator said: “It was impossible for a man like Bin Laden to have handed himself over to the US forces.”
A lot of people have been privately talking about doubts over the American story and this is the first time someone as prominent as Al Nefaisi has talked about it publicly, said another commentator.
One commentator said Osama’s wife was present at the time of the US raid on the house (in Pakistan) where he had been holed up with his family, and she later said that he was killed and his body was being taken in a plane when it was shot down by Al Qaeda members and they (the Americans) couldn’t identify any of the bodies.
“They were taking Bin Laden’s body to show the world that an enemy of the US would meet this fate.” Another person commenting on ‘sabq’ echoed the same and said the only genuine sources who could tell the truth about Bin Laden are his widow and the US.
“Al Qaeda leaders have admitted that he had been killed… And his widow said his body was being taken in a plane and that it was shot down.”
Another commentator said an American had told him that he didn’t believe the story of Bin Laden’s killing. “That was an election stunt,” he quoted the American as saying, referring to President Barak Obama’s election campaign for a second term.
“We are not so stupid as to lend ears to the American story and believe it,” said a commentator.
But a couple of people sounded furious and said Al Nefaisi digressed from the original issue he was supposed to be speaking on — the issue involving Iran and how it was creating trouble in the region.
“The interview was about Iran and the trouble it was creating in the region, but the interviewer disappointed us by changing the subject. Bin Laden isn’t as hot an issue,” said one commentator.
Another said: “I recall that something was said about Saddam Hussein as well when he was captured. A lot of people believed that he wasn’t captured, tried and killed”.
One commentator said Bin Laden had died earlier due to kidney failure and was buried by his relatives.
“Now, the US has come up with its own story to show that he did not die a natural death and that they killed him.”
Al Nefaisi’s interview on Kuwait-based ‘Rotana Khalijia’ was part of a popular Friday programme titled Leqa Al Juma, which in Arabic means ‘Friday Interview’.