In the first television interview with an al Qaeda member close to bin Laden since 9/11, Abu Jandal tells 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon first-hand details about the world's most wanted man this Sunday, April 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Abu Jandal, who was with bin Laden in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2000, says bin Laden's last tape on which he threatened consequences to the U.S. is not a threat, but a promise.
"When Sheik Osama promises something, he does it….So I believe Osama bin Laden is planning a new attack inside the United States, this is certain," he tells Simon in the interview conducted in Yemen earlier this month.
It's been long speculated that bin Laden is hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan, but Abu Jandal says Afghanistan is the place. "Not Pakistan. I know the Pakistani tribe along the border very well. Yes, they can be very trustworthy and faithful to their religion and ideology, but they are also capable of selling information for nothing," he says.
Even if found, bin Laden will not be captured, says Abu Jandal, who says the al Qaeda leader gave him the authority to kill him if he was surrounded. "If he was going to be captured, Sheik Osama prefers to be killed than captured," he tells Simon. "There was a special gun to be used if Sheik Osama bin Laden was attacked and we were unable to save him, in which case I would have to kill him," says Abu Jandal.
The closest the Americans came to getting bin Laden before 9/11, recounts Abu Jandal, was the U.S. missile attack on al-Qaeda training camps near Khost, Afghanistan – a retaliatory strike for the al-Qaeda bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. It was luck that saved him the night before the strike. "There was a fork in the road," remembers Abu Jandal, "one road leading to Khost and the training camps and another one leading to Kabul. I was with Sheik Osama in the same vehicle with three guards…he turned to us and said, 'Khost or Kabul?' We told him, 'Let's just visit Kabul.' Sheik Osama said, 'Okay, Kabul.'
So the missile strike the next day failed to get bin Laden, but the man they think provided information that led to it was discovered. "It was the Afghan cook," said Abu Jandal. He says he would have killed the man who betrayed bin Laden himself, but bin Laden forgave him and sent him home. "Sheik Osama even gave him money and told him, 'Go provide for your children.'"
Among the other things he remembers about bin Laden was the way the al Qaeda leader forbade cursing. "I remember once I used the wrong word, so he suspended me from guard duty for three days," says Abu Jandal.
Abu Jandal says the rumor that bin Laden suffered from a kidney problem and needed dialysis was nonsense. "Never. The only problem Sheik Osama suffered from is with his vocal chords. He was affected by missiles that contained some chemicals during the jihad against the Soviets. Only his vocal chords were affected," he tells Simon.
He reveres bin Laden to this day and wishes he were still with him. Abu Jandal must stay in Yemen, however, under an agreement with the government, which detained him for almost two years after the al Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. But he has a son. "I have great hopes for him and pray to God that he will finish what his father was unable to finish," Abu Jandal says. "Frankly, I hope that my son gets killed and becomes a martyr for the sake of God almighty."
Produced By Draggan Mihailovich