Once radical cleric breaks with bin Laden

Sept. 18, 2007 at 4:16 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- A leading Saudi religious scholar and former radical has broken with Osama bin Laden, accusing him of having the blood of millions of innocents on his hands.

“How much blood has been spilled? How many innocent children, women and old people have been killed, maimed and expelled from their homes in the name of al-Qaida?” asked Sheik Salman al-Oadah in an open letter posted on his Web site and read aloud on a Saudi satellite TV channel.

"Are you happy to meet Allah with this heavy burden on your shoulders? It is a weighty burden indeed -- at least hundreds of thousands of innocent people, if not millions.”

Oadah was one of the leaders of the “sahwa” or revivalist movement among Saudi clerics in the early 1990’s, and one of the first to preach against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaida expert and author Peter Bergen said that Oadah’s imprisonment in 1994 had “a radicalizing effect” on bin Laden.

Bin Laden biographer Hamid Mir, said that, in interviews, the al-Qaida leader claimed Oadah had written pamphlets for the group on jihad but that these weren't published under his name.

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