New York, Aug.11 : Several Americans are outraged that Salim Hamdan - who was Osama bin Laden's chauffeur before his arrest six years ago - will be out of jail before the end of the year.
But Hamdan's jury of six military officers apparently agreed with Nasser al-Bahri, an al Qaeda operative interviewed by Jonathan Mahler for his book "The Challenge," who called Hamdan "a really naive, simple guy who doesn't know the first thing about jihad and was just tagging along for the job."
While doing research for the book, Mahler interviewed al-Bahri in a prison in Yemen after the USS Cole bombing in 2000. He also spoke to Hamdan's family in Yemen.
While Mahler declined to comment, a source said al-Bahri was sympathetic to a man he felt was "just a poor, uneducated guy who needed a job in a country with an overwhelmingly high unemployment rate."
Prosecutors wanted a sentence of 30 years to life in prison for Hamdan. But after convicting him providing material support to al Qaeda, the jury sentenced him to 51/2 years, and he was given credit for five years already served at Guantanamo Bay.