Born in a northern border city in Saudi Arabia in 1969, was a
student who scored 94 percent in the secondary school
By Mowaffaq Al-Nowaiser
May 04, 2002,
Mansour Al-Suwailem, elder brother of the leading Chechen fighter
who was recently assassinated by Russians, said it was an old
who inspired Khattab to fight for the Chechens.
Khattabs real name is Samir
Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem. In his early
youth he wanted to study in the
United States. Mansour shed light on several
aspects of Khattabs personal
life in an interview with Arab News. The
interview was conducted at his
fathers house in Alkhobar in the Eastern
Mansour said Khattab used to call their mother in Saudi Arabia before
carried out attacks against the Russians. Last week, Russian state
broadcast pictures of Khattabs body and said he had been
killed on March
19-20 after a yearlong operation by Russian special forces.
The station said
he did not die in a battle but did not elaborate on how he
died. Khattab is
the most important Mujahedeen commander killed since
Russian troops launched
their latest campaign against the Chechen
freedom struggle two and a half
Mansour said there were two differing reports of how his brother had
killed. According to one report, it was five minutes after he opened
poisoned letter given him by a trusted aide two weeks ago. The
report says that he was given poisoned food in a private party about
month ago. The last time Samir called his family was three months ago.
He had visited Saudi Arabia only twice since he decided to go to
Afghanistan in 1987.
"He called our parents whenever he had a chance and specially called
mother before carrying out any operation," he added. Samir was an
child who had dreams of owning a castle with "a garage big
enough for five
cars". He also wanted all family members to live
together and was concerned
about the welfare of all family members and used to
weep for the slightest
reasons. He was loved by all. No one remembered him
seeing angry. He loved
jokes and used to play with children.
Samir, who was born in an Arar, a northern border city in Saudi Arabia
1969, was a brilliant student who scored 94 percent in the secondary
Unlike other family members, he used to evince more interest in
periodicals and tapes. He was very much impressed by the history of
second Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him)
therefore accepted the title Khattab. He joined a training
conducted by the Aramco. He planned to continue his studies in the
United States. He used to be very kind and helpful to others.
Once he found a stranger, a Sudanese expatriate, asking for a lift on
airport road. The man said his car broke down and he was afraid he may
reach the air[port in time. The man was, apparently, worried about
his car on the road. After taking him to the airport, Samir went back
car and towed it to a workshop for repairs. When the Sudanese man
he was surprised to find his car repaired. Samir refused to accept
of the repair. There are several other instances of selfless
Mansour could not give any specific reason for Samirs sudden change
mind about his plan to go to the United States for studies. He joined
the Afghan Arabs fighting the Russians at the age of 17 in 1987. The young
boy refused to come home even after his father promised to buy him a house.
He did not visit the Kingdom in the past 14 years except two times, the
last one in 1993. He was gravely wounded four times and the most serious
them was when he set foot on a land mine. He was the lone survivor
his truck exploded, it was reported.
Mansour explained how Samir got the idea of going to Chechnya
watching a news broadcast on the Afghan TV. The news broadcast
several Chechen groups wearing headbands with "No God But Allah
Muhammad is His Messenger" written on them. They shouted Allahu
Allahu Akbar. Samir felt curious about the jihad going on in Chechnya
and decided to go there. But he did not know how to go there and the map
bought did not show Chechnya. So he set out to Baku in Azerbaijan which
is close to Chechnya.
While he was making inquiries about how to reach Chechnya, he received
letter from Fathi Abu Sayyaf, a Chechen of Jordanian origin describing
the land of which he wrote, "a man who enters it is lost and one
out of it is like a reborn."
Somehow or other, he managed to reach Chechnya where he first went
as a TV reporter meeting with people and inquiring about the common
attitude toward the jihad. His proficiency in Arabic, Russian, English,
Pashtu helped him mix with all kinds of people. In his travels he
with Shamil Basayev.
It was about this time that he met an old Chechen woman who stressed
need for jihad against the Russians. She told him confidently: "We want
to quit our land so that we can return to Islam." When he asked
her how she
would help in a jihad against Russians, her reply was that she
a jacket and she would donate it for the cause of Allah.
Suwailam said his brother had sobbed until "his beard became wet with
tears" when he spoke to the woman, and that the meeting had been a
point in his life.
Khattabs actions were based on certain strong principles drawn from
Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet. They can be summed up
follows: The objective of jihad should be the establishment of
religion of Allah, there is no negotiation with the enemy, the
should not end until the enemys threat was totally removed, jihad does
not depend on the life of a leader, leadership does not mean
position, unity is the most important requisite for fighting
Russia. He also stressed the need for treating civilians gently and
doing any harm to them.
Samir had been seeking martyrdom for the past 14 years, Mansour said.
failed to achieve it in Afghanistan, then he sought it in Tajikistan.
again disappointed, so went to Chechnya where finally Allah granted
him, the brother said with pride.
Samir was married to a Dagistani woman and has three children.