Abu Jandal

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Abu Jandal (1973?-) was the chief bodyguard and internal troubleshooter of Osama bin Laden in al-Qaeda. He was arrested by German police in 2002. [1] In multiple interviews, he stated his orders were to kill bin Laden rather than permit him to be captured. He also said he protected bin Laden against assassination attempts by Takfir wal-Hijra‎, a specific takfiri group.

In an interview with CBS News, he indicated that he no longer fights in jihad, but still actively supports al-Qaeda. He said he "admires American civilization, but will fight America until it gets out of the Middle East."[2] This is a good example of where the enmity is less theological, and more violently opposed to policies as with Ramzi Yousef, or, as in Michael Scheuer's analysis, [3] Scheuer does see this al-Qaeda viewpoint as Islamic, but more focused on a sense of Muslim unity than classic Salafism. Abu Jandal himself spoke of takfir groups as far more extreme than bin Laden.[4]

Released from prison in 2002, the Yemeni government made a deal with Abu Jandal: "don't plot against Yemen, don’t try to leave the country and we'll leave you alone." [2] During the interview, he said bin Laden sent him on a mission to Yemen in early 2000, to obtain basing rights there should he be ejected from Afghanistan. To gain acceptance in Yemen, he wanted a Yemeni wife, and asked Abu Jandal to find one for him.

He talked of his personal relationship with bin Laden, whom he considered a spiritual father. After a rally in July 2001, when bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri joined forces, he volunteered for a suicide mission. Bin Laden told him he was rushing into that role, but eventually gave permission for him to talk to Mohammed Atef, whom he knew as Abu Hafs, then the military commander. [5]

Scheuer said of him,
Anyone who is as dedicated as he is and clearly desires to be a martyr, we ought to be taking care of him one way or another...Oh, I think he's probably far more important than anybody we've got in Guantanamo. Because he had direct exposure to Osama bin Laden. He’s very, very knowledgeable about the organization worldwide


  1. German police interrogation (2006), Peter Bergen, ed., The Osama bin Laden I know: an Oral History of Al-Qaeda's Leader, Free Press, pp. 259-260
  2. 2.0 2.1 Daniel Schorn (July 30, 2006), "Dire Prediction From Osama's Bodyguard; Tells Bob Simon He Is Certain U.S. Will Be Attacked Again", 60 Minutes, CBS News
  3. Michael Scheuer (March 28, 2006), "Al-Qaeda Doctrine: Training the Individual Warrior", Terrorism Focus, The Jamestown Foundation
  4. Bergen, pp. 259-260
  5. Bergen, pp. 269-272