On July 21, 2008, Pakistan's independent television network Geo News aired an exclusive interview with Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, Al-Qaeda's No. 3 man and top commander in Afghanistan. The interview, conducted in Arabic, was broadcast on Geo News with a voiceover in Urdu. It was later posted on Islamist websites, and its content was published in Pakistani newspapers.
Abu Al-Yazid, also known as Sheikh Sa'id, is a 52-year-old Egyptian with two wives and 14 children. In 1981 he was arrested in Egypt for involvement in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat, but was released a year later. In 1988, after heading various militant groups, he joined Al-Qaeda and shifted his base of operations to Afghanistan. In 1991 he worked for Osama bin Laden in Sudan as an accountant, and later became director of Al-Qaeda's financial affairs. He has also been a member of Al-Qaeda's Shura Council, in charge of financial planning, organizational affairs, and public relations.
The following are excerpts from the Geo News interview:
Pakistan Caused Great Damage to Al-Qaeda by Supporting U.S.
In the interview, Abu Al-Yazid stated that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad last June. He said that the bomber was a Saudi, and added: "We are proud to have carried out [this operation], and we congratulated our brothers for completing this task. We timed the attack in such a way that no Muslims were in the vicinity." Abu Al-Yazid also stated that Al-Qaeda had been responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On a previous occasion, he claimed that the organization had carried out the December 27, 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto.
Referring to the permissibility of suicide bombings, Abu Al-Yazid said that eminent Islamic scholars around the world had issued fatwas sanctioning them. He added: "Suicide attacks are justified by Islamic shari'a. [However, Islamic] scholars [who are affiliated with] governments issue whatever fatwas they are told to issue... However, suicide attacks inside mosques are forbidden."
About the role of the Pakistani government in the U.S.-led war on terror, the Al-Qaeda commander remarked: "The Pakistani government is the government that has caused the greatest damage to the mujahideen. It was [Pakistani President] Pervez Musharraf...who caused the most damage to his neighbors, the mujahideen [of the Taliban], though it was [only] thanks to their sacrifice that the USSR did not invade Pakistan [in the 1980s]."
Abu Al-Yazid praised Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who is currently on trial in the U.S., saying: "Khaled is a fearless man of whom the entire Muslim nation can be proud."
"The Allegation that Al-Qaeda Is Promoting U.S. Interests Is a Lie"
Asked about a conspiracy theory that has gained currency in Pakistan, namely that Al-Qaeda was created by the U.S. in the 1980s with the purpose of fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, Abu Al-Yazid said: "This is a lie and falsehood, and was exposed as such years ago... when Sheikh Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the U.S. Since then, [Al-Qaeda has carried out] a series of operations against the U.S... first the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, then the attacks on U.S. targets in Yemen and Somalia, and culminating in the pious action of 9/11. This series of attacks on the U.S. is clear proof that this allegation - [namely] that Al-Qaeda is promoting U.S. interests - is [nothing but] a lie and falsehood."
Abu Al-Yazid added: "Al-Qaeda is waging jihad against the U.S. because it is the head of the infidels and the pharaoh of our times. The U.S. is the flag-bearer of the new modern crusade... against the Muslim nation. We are [also] fighting the U.S. because it is standing by Israel and providing it with all sorts of assistance and power..." http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD2008