New Delhi, Sep 22: Is Osama bin Laden a skilled poet? A media report said on Saturday, Sep 20 revealed this new facet of the world's most wanted terrorist. The elusive al-Qaeda leader's literary work will be published soon by an Oxford-educated academic expert in Arabic, it said.
Bin Laden's recitals at wedding banquets and other feasts during the 1990s were recorded on tapes recovered from his compound in Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks in the US. They were studied by Prof Flagg Miller, who teaches Arabic poetry at University of California, Davis, the report said.
Miller first heard the tapes four years ago when FBI translators were scrutinising them for coded messages to sleeper cells. He identified up to 20 featuring the 'distinctive monotone' of bin Laden. "Bin Laden is a skilled poet with clever rhymes and metres, which was one reason why many people taped him and passed recordings around, like pop songs," Miller told 'The Sunday Times'.
According to the report, the first lines of one poem read: "A youth who plunges into the smoke of war smiling stains the blades of lances red. May God not let my eye stray from the most eminent humans, lest they fall."
The verse goes on to portray bin Laden himself as a 'warrior poet', whose words will lead his followers to an idyllic refuge in the Hindu Kush mountains. "He frequently uses mountains as metaphors," Miller said. "As borders they separate Arabs from each other but mountains can also help them from the temptations of the secular world."
Extracts from the tapes will appear in the October issue of the journal Language and Communications. "They reveal Osama Bin Laden as the performer, the entertainer with an agenda," Miller was quoted as saying.
While Miller prepares to write a book analysing bin Laden's poetry and its role in terrorism, the tapes are going to Yale University where they will be repaired and made available to scholars in 2010.