March 1, 2007


Gems, al-Qaida and murder. Mystery over killing of Osama Bin Laden's friend (Nick Fielding, March 2, 2007, The Guardian)

When Muhammad Jamal Khalifa was found dead at a remote gemstone mine in south-eastern Madagascar at the end of January, local police quickly put the murder down to a business deal gone wrong. The Saudi businessman, 49, had had to call in local police to evict a gang who had taken over the mine during the owner's six-year absence. All the evidence pointed towards another of the many killings that dominate the notoriously violent Madagascar gem mining business.

Khalifa had been shot twice, stabbed and hacked at with an axe. His laptop, notebooks and money were missing, as were his two mobile phones. A survivor from the attack said a gang of up to 30 men had burst in to the guesthouse at the mine in Soameloka before setting upon their victim.

But it soon became apparent to the police that this was no ordinary killing. Khalifa was a man with a past, and at the time of his death he was being monitored by the US secret service.

He was married to one of Osama bin Laden's sisters, and was once the closest friend of the al-Qaida leader. He had also been sentenced to death in absentia in Jordan for allegedly funding a bombing campaign, had funded Islamic charities in the Philippines and had played a controversial role in the arrest of the gang that attempted to blow up the World Trade Centre in 1993.

After the September 11 2001 attacks he had been arrested by the Saudi authorities and for several years afterwards had been prevented from travelling abroad. He was a man with many enemies.

At first, the Khalifa family accepted the view that his killing was a simple case of violent robbery. His brother, Malek, flew to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, and the Saudi government paid for a chartered Boeing-777 to bring back the body, sending its most senior diplomat in east Africa to accompany the flight.

But two weeks ago, the family changed its view, saying they now believed it was a "political" killing.

Here's one that just cries out for planting rumors attributing credit for the killing to various nations and leaks from within al Qaeda and Sa'udi Arabia and the like...a perfect opportunity to sow distrust, terror and dissension.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2007 9:05 PM


You need to fix the link to the Guardian article.

Posted by: Pete at March 1, 2007 9:43 PM

Sowing ". . .distrust, teror and dissention." Straight out of the myth of Jason and the dragon's teeth, complete with the self-destruction of the crop of fighters.

Never stop asking, if the self-destruction of all of Wackistan were a bad thing, what would be a better.

What is so thrilling about it all is the possibility that the reformation may be brought off without the patient ever knowing that he has been treated.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 2, 2007 8:37 PM