Slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was blind in one eye and had been a member of the Saudi Arabian branch of Muslim Brotherhood in his youth, his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri revealed in a video posted online Wednesday.
In the almost hour-long video, the third in a series titled “Days with the Imam,” Zawahiri said bin Laden lost sight in the right eye after an unspecified accident in his youth. He also narrated stories about his predecessor who was killed in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in a military operation carried out by the U.S. Navy SEALs in May last year.
Bin Laden was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most influential Islamic movements with origins in Egypt, for his extremist ideas of waging jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Daily Mail reported, citing the video.
Zawahiri said bin Laden traveled to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, close to the Afghan border to deliver cash to the Taliban, but defied the Brotherhood’s command and joined the armed jihad instead.
Zawahiri, believed to be in hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas, is battling difficulties of communication that have plagued the original alQaeda group, commonly called “al-Qaeda Central,” in recent years.
The video posted on a jihadist forum is reportedly around two months old as Zawahiri offered greetings to Muslims on the start of the holy month of Ramadan that ended Aug. 20.
In another video released on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Zawahiri declared that the U.S. was at war with Islam and that American Muslims should prepare for a "holocaust.”
In an interview with CNN Sept. 11, Zawahiri’s brother Mohamed al-Zawahiri proposed to mediate a peace deal between the West and the Islamists.
He said he was offering to be an intermediary between the Islamists and the U.S. and the West, putting himself at risk from radical Islamists, but maintained that he was not acting from weakness or for personal gain. "I don't represent a certain group. My role is a mediator between the West and them."
"If this idea had succeeded, September 11 would not have even happened in the first place. I hope this opportunity today is not wasted,” he said.