Ex-Bin Laden bodyguard writes against Qaeda

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A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, Yemeni Nasser al-Bahri, wants to dissuade young people from joining Al-Qaeda, and has co-authored a book with a French journalist to get his message across.

"The main purpose of the book is to teach youth how to say no" to extremists such as Al-Qaeda, Bahri tells AFP, adding that he is surprised that France denied him a visa for a trip to publicise "In the Shadow of Bin Laden."

Bahri explains that, as a supporter of holy war against what he considered "Western injustice" he had joined Al-Qaeda but found it "not very convincing from the inside." He left the organisation in 2000.

He counsels young people who might be swayed by the arguments of Islamic extremism to opt instead for dialogue with the West.

"I advise young people not to be hasty. They should be moderate and listen to others. It is true that there are ideological differences with the West, but we need to talk."

He regretted what he said was France considering him still to be a terrorist and denying him a visa.

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero, asked about the case by Bahri's co-author, Georges Malbrunot, said "we judge his presence on French territory to be inopportune."

Earlier this month, France also denied a visa to bin Laden's son Omar to promote his new book in France, his French publisher said.

The Qaeda chief's fourth eldest son had planned to travel to Paris for the release of "Osama bin Laden: A Family Portrait," which denounces his father's murderous ways.

The book was co-written with his mother Najwa, a Syrian and the first of Osama's five wives, and American journalist Jean Sasson, said a spokesman for the publishers Denoel.

In his book, Omar chronicles life as one of 20 children in the family of the world's most wanted man.

© 2010 AFP

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