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Friday, 11 Jan 2002

   2001/09/16


   2001/09/16



Location: Sunday 16 Sep 2001 > National news

SA activist's Bin Laden ties

War on America

Buddy Naidu

A SA Islamic activist has forged strong ties with the Bin Laden family, receiving substantial funding from them and, in the process, meeting Osama bin Laden, the man named as prime suspect in this week's terror attacks.

Yousuf Deedat, 45, who triggered a storm when he distributed thousands of anti-Semitic handbills featuring a picture of Adolf Hitler during the World Conference Against Racism in Durban last week, said he first met Bin Laden in 1989.

Deedat and his father, Muslim scholar Ahmed Deedat, met Bin Laden on several other occasions in Saudi Arabia that year and in the 1990s while they were drumming up support for the Islamic Propagation Centre International in Durban.

"He was quiet-spoken, respectful and humble. When he met my father, he did not look him in the eye. That is the greatest honour an Arab can bestow on an elder," said Deedat.

The Deedats have had close links with the Bin Laden family since first meeting Osama's elder brother, Sheikh Bakr bin Laden, in 1986. Since then, many of the 27 Bin Laden brothers have contributed generously to the centre. Sheikh Bakr alone gave the centre $3.1-million over eight years to buy a building, print the Koran in English and Zulu, and print and distribute Islamic literature.

In appreciation, the Deedats named their building in Durban's Victoria Street after the family in 1988.

During his tenure as secretary-general of the propagation centre, the Bin Ladens reportedly paid Yousuf Deedat a monthly salary of R900 000.

Deedat said Bin Laden had invited him on a number of occasions to attend his lectures in Saudi Arabia. "He moved me to tears. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke in public, he had this magnetic effect on all who listened to him." Whether he was guilty or not, Deedat said, the US would "always use him as a scapegoat".


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