Below is an English translation of a eulogy by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri for "the two martyrs," Abu 'Ubaydah al-Banshiri (real name: 'Ali Amin al-Rashidi) and Muhammad "Abu Hafs" 'Atef, two late Al-Qa'ida Central (AQC; Qaeda, Qaida) leaders. Al-Banshiri drowned when the boat he was on capsized in Lake Victoria in May 1996. 'Atef was killed in heavy aerial bombing by the United States military in November 2001. The text is taken from the second edition of al-Zawahiri's book and memoir, Knights Under the Prophet's Banner (Al-Fursan tahta Rayat al-Nabi).
The two martyrs
Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri
Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri
I can't finish this chapter without mentioning some of the aromatic biography of the martyred loving leading brothers Abu Ubaida Albanshiri and Abu Hafs the Commander (Alcomandan).
Abu Ubaida Albanshiri is Ali Alrashidi, God gave him a strong body, and goodness in the heart, a smile that never leaves him, and his humor was always present. He was a Hafiz of the Book of Allah, and was studious in reciting it.
He used work as a sports trainer for the police forces, and was arrested after the assassination of Anwar Alsadat, he was nominated to be among the assassination group, and was the brother in law for the martyr – as we expect him to be – Abdulhamid Abdulsalam, one of the four assassins of Sadat, and Amir of the assassination group, after getting out of prison he migrated to Afghanistan, he engaged in jihad against the Russians and Communists in several fronts, may be one of the most important of them was his journey to the Panjshir Valley with a group of Arab brothers, the journey was a month long through the snow and mountains, and from this journey he took his nickname, then his participation in the battles of Jagi against the Russian forces in 1987. He also participated in the jihad in Gardez and Khost.
He participated in establishing Alqaeda from its first days, and became the right arm of for Sheikh Osama bin Laden may Allah preserve him, and I remember that I heard that Sheikh Osama bin Laden in Peshawar say: From the Grace of Allah on me that I came to the Afghan jihad to know Abu Ubaida. He supervised the camps of training and preparation, which hundreds graduated from them, he wasn't satisfied only with the field of Afghanistan but he widened his activity to other continents, so he visited many countries in Asia and Africa, and may be the most important of his activities is his participation in reviving the jihad in Eastern Africa in general and Somalia in particular. He – Rahimahullah – had many journeys and travels in the cause of Allah, and his family suffered much from his absence. He was martyred by drowning in Victoria Lake in 1996, when a passengers ferry with him on it overturned because it was carrying more than its capacity.
He loved the unity among the Moslems and he perused it with what he owned, and sometimes if the unity between the mujahedeen organizationally, he pursued to practice it on the field, exceeding the organizational buriers and sensitivities of the groups, all used to feel that they were close to him, he used to listen to all with attention and tries to meet their demands with what he could.
Abu Ubaida has a working energy that never calm down, he was eager to spend what he could to push the wheel of jihad, and he his activity gave him a political experience, and he used to acknowledge favor of the Afghan jihad in that, since he said to me once: my age has increased one hundred years in Afghanistan.
From his many travels he became an expert in the procedures of travel and the customs of countries, he asked me once do you have Dollars of one and five notes, so I told him I'll search for you, but I might find notes of ten and fifty, so he said to him known humor: No. I want from the one Dollar notes, it's my currency in the airports of Eastern Africa, even that the employers of the airports know me, and if they saw me they would call me to finish my procedures and get a few Dollars.
From his jokes – Rahimahullah – that about a year before his martyrdom whenever he met me, he would ask me about English words and phrases that would benefit him, then he would write them in his notebook, and I would wonder about his new interest in English language, he used to tell me that he needs these phrases in travel, then I discovered after his death – Rahimahullah – that he was married to second wife which was Kenyan and didn't know Arabic.
He hoped for the unification of the groups of Aljihad and Alqaeda, and he pursued that actively, that's why I mentioned him – Rahimahullah – in my speech on the day of the unity and creation of the Qaedat Aljihad group, so I said what meant:
"In this celebration I remember noble brothers, who would have been happy to be between us today, to witness this big event, and I expect that from them is our big brother the martyr – who we don't recommend before Allah - Abu Ubaida Albanshiri, so sleep sweetly Abu Ubaida the unity that you hoped for has happened".
Both Abu Ubaida and Abu Hafs were eager in establishing and developing the global jihad movement, Abu Ubaida was its flowing spirit, and Abu Hafs was its quite engineer. Like each one of them completed his brother.
While the companion of Abu Ubaida, Abu Hafs the Commander – or the Alcomandan as his brothers used call him – Subhi Abdulaziz Abu Sita, was an example of high manners and discipline, and eagerness on the feelings of his brothers, he was Given as his companion Abu Ubaida a strong body and prettiness and a beard that white hair appeared in it very early.
Abu Hafs was from Elbehira province from the Abu Sita tribe, which is an Adnanian tribe that migrated from Palestine.
He was very eager on the unity between Muslims, and I have mentioned before his rule in establishing Qaedat Aljihad.
And from the oddity of agreement that I was a neighbor to both of them, even I sometimes left my residence to both of them, and also I was their doctor several times, and the most important that passed by me was my participation in the treatment of Abu Ubaida from a severe evil Malaria that nearly killed him not for the kindness of Allah, the specialists were confused in treating it for a while, even that some brothers began talking about a theory of Abu Ubaida being poisoned, then he was cured and recovered from it with Allah's Grace, I also conducted two operations to Abu Hafs the first was participating in treating him from his wounds in the battle of Jalal-a-bad where he was injured with a deep wound in the chest that was near the diaphragm, but didn't penetrate his abdomen from a shell that broke it's arm and ribs.
Abu Hafs was an example for high manners, discipline, leniency, generosity, and asceticism, he disinclined disagreements and hassles and coming to work and tender, he gained a wide military experience that began from his work in the Egyptian army as a reserve officer, then it increased with his developing jihadi life.
He has spent his extreme effort to develop Alqaeda and organize its affairs until it reached in growth and wideness that allowed it to strike America several blows that was culminated by the blessed raids (9/11 attacks).
He was very impressed by the brothers, who carried out the raids, especially the martyr hero Gazi commander – as we expect him to be so – Mohammad Atta, and I have mentioned his story with Mohammmed Atta when he asked him: what can we do for Palestine? And Abu Hafs Rahimahullah never forgot that question and was affected by it.
He was martyred Rahimahullah in Kandahar in the beginning of the Crusade invasion to Afghanistan.
May Allah have a wide mercy on both of them, and make us join them on good.
Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri
Note: this is an edited version from the second edition of the book "Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet" for Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri, published by As-sahab Medai, 2010. (pages 483 – 485) – Arabian poetry were omitted for reasons relating to translation -