Former Saudi dissident slams bin Laden


‘How many innocent people, elderly men and children have been killed and displaced under the Al Qaeda banner? Would you be happy to meet God carrying the burden (of their death) on your shoulders?’ Shaikh Salman Al Odah said in a ‘message to bin Laden’ posted on his website, islamtoday.



‘What did we gain from the total destruction of a people as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan? … Who benefits from the attempts to turn Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and other countries into scared countries where people don’t feel secure?’ Odah asked.



‘Who is responsible for crowding the prisons with youths, prisons that have become breeding grounds for new waves of extremism and violence?’ he added.



Odah, a well-known cleric in the Gulf region, was arrested for political and religious activism in 1994 but has since ceased to oppose the Saudi regime and moderated his once radical views.



He was among five Sunni Islamists arrested for criticising Washington and Riyadh over the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis when Saudi Arabia hosted US troops who led a multinational coalition to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.



While the others have been somewhat critical of attacks perpetrated by suspected Al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia since 2003, none has previously openly disavowed bin Laden.



The Saudi-born Al Qaeda chief, who was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994, appeared in a videotape to taunt the United States again on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


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