Friday, February 24, 2012

LUNCH WITH THE FT - AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI

Ayman al-Zawahiri

We meet at a nice kosher restaurant, in the city of Islamabad.

The Chateau Margaux arrives and we are soon tucking in to steaming bowls of chicken soup.

My guest is 'an Egyptian' called Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Zawahiri was born into an upper middle class family in a posh suburb of Cairo, called Maadi.

A house in Maadi

I ask him about his taste in food.

"You know it used to be easy to get my kind of food in Cairo," he says.

"Jewish families, such as Suares and Naggar, owned many of the banks, bus companies, and department stores in Egypt, and they liked good food."

What about al-Zawahiri's parents?

"In 1960, my father, Rabi al-Zawahiri, moved from Heliopolis to Maadi.

"There was a thriving synagogue in our neighbourhood.

"My parents belonged to two of the top families in Egypt."

Nasser, former CIA asset.

I ask al-Zawahiri about Nasser.

"I was still at school when Nasser was president of Egypt," he says.

"Nasser became a strong nationalist and therefore not popular with Israel, the US or UK.

"I was in the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Nasser said that the Muslim Brotherhood was a tool of the British.

"Eventually, the CIA supported the Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser."

Sadat, left, with a guy linked to US naval intelligence, and some former terrorist.

I asked him about Israel's attitude.

"Israel always supports the Islamists against the nationalists," he replied.

Our Matzo Brei with Fresh Chives arrived, and another bottle of wine was ordered.

And what about President Sadat?

"Sadat and his vice president Hosni Mubarak were friends of the CIA.

"Mubarak received money from a weapons delivery company called EATSCO, a CIA front company.

"Sadat fell out with Mubarak over EATSCO."

I pointed out that he, al-Zawahiri, was accused of being part of the Jihad group which allegedly assassinated Sadat.

"I got a short jail sentence, beginning in 1982," he said.

Reagan and his CIA-run Islamist pals.

In 1986 al-Zawahiri moved to Pakistan.

I asked him about his help for the Mujahideen.

"I was helped by the CIA to get arms, training and money for the Mujahideen," he explained.

I wondered if the CIA knew about his activities in Egypt.

"Indeed yes. But the CIA gave us new identities and new passports.'

What about Osama bin Laden?

Al Zawahiri was once Osama's doctor.

"Osama, and his brother Salem, worked for the CIA", explains al Zawahiri.

"Now I am the big boss of al Qaeda", he says, looking proud.

I inquired about al-Zawahiri's brother Muhammad.

"Muhammad helped the CIA in Bosnia and Croatia," he says.

The man from MI6, Ayatollah Khomeini.

I told him I was interested in his attitude to Iran.

Zawahiri had allegedly worked with the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of al-Qaeda.

"I studied the CIA's 1979 Islamic Revolution," says al-Zawahiri.

"Iran collaborated with America in its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq."

I pointed out that there are those in Iran who say that al-Qaeda is a tool of the CIA.

"It's a joke, isn't it," he says. "Both sides working for Washington."

"In a 2008 interview I attacked Shite Iran for blaming the 9/11 attacks on Israel, and thus discrediting al-Qaeda."

It's Ayman!

Al Zawahiri continues: "The bin Ladens are great friends of the USA.

"They have huge investments there.

"I got a warm welcome in America.

"In 1993, I traveled to the United States, and met many people in California.

"I've also had trips to Europe, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong."

"In 1996, I was helping the CIA in Chechnya."

According to January 2000 U.S. Congressional testimony, al-Zawahiri was granted U.S. residence by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Ayman al Zawahiri - Star of David background.

Our Lokshen kugel, or "noodle pudding," was set down on the table.

I asked about the 1997 attack at Luxor in Egypt, attacks blamed on al Zawahiri.

Six men dressed in police uniforms killed 58 foreign tourists.

"The Luxor attacks helped the tourist trade - in Israel", he responded, supressing a smile.

Mossad playing an April Fool trick on some little kid.

In 1998 there were truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

"These attacks brought Osama bin Laden, and me, to international attention."

In 2000, Zawahiri moved to Afghanistan.

In 2007, Al-Zawahiri directed the Lal Masjid siege in Pakistan.

What about the story in the Guardian that Ayman al Zawahiri is in a jail in Tehran?

"There may be more than one Ayman", says Ayman, with a wink!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a fake interview, right?

nobody said...

Hee Hee. And fake? Never!

Aangirfan is an unblinkingly serious blogger who would never stoop to any form of vaudeville, satire, parody, litotes, or any other thing indicating a dry sense of humour.

yours,

Semi-Colon, Dash, and Bracket
(acting for the accused)

Anon said...

I thought it was fake until I discovered there is a Kosher restaurant called Chez Gilani in the diplomatic enclave.

 
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