Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an exclusive interview with Asharq al Awsat, Jaafar al Qahtani condemned his son, Mohammad”s appearance in a videotape broadcast on the al Arabiyah news channel were he praised the September 11 attacks and held militant groups responsible for influencing his son and introducing him to violence in the wake of the US invasion of Afghanistan .
Previously a good and honest man, Mohammad had changed dramatically since leaving to Afghanistan and became angry and violent, according to his father.
Addressing his son through Asharq al Awsat, Jaafar advised him not to commit any crimes and take part in bombings. Instead, he hoped Mohammed would return to his country, Saudi Arabia, through Iran.
He said, “Your country is more deserving of you and your father needs your protection”, stressing that the fight in Afghanistan will not server any purposes. "You cannot engage in jihad (holy struggle) without the consent of your parents. You have already committed many mistakes. I urge you to return to Saudi Arabia through Iranian territory. If you stay in Afghanistan you will perish, you will either be killed or you will be captured by US forces.”
Clearly upset and emotional, Jaafar indicated that a “painful fate” was awaiting his son in Afghanistan and feared he would die in fighting or be taken into custody by the US army and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
One of forty prisoners who escaped from the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where Islamic militants are jailed, Mohammed served in the Saudi army in 1990 and took part in the liberation of Kuwait. He then joined the border guards and worked in the Rub al Khali desert and then in Khobar until he resigned in 1999.
It was then, Jafaar admitted, that his son started to become more interested in religion and grew his beard. He blamed Mohammed”s fearless courageous character for pushing him towards al Qaeda.
The family did not hear from Mohammed for some time after his departure to Afghanistan until he started calling them, every two months, to set their minds at rest and let them know he was alive and well.
Recalling their first conversation, he said: “When he called me from Afghanistan, I was very upset. I immediately visited the Governor of Riyadh, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and informed him of my son’s location. I was very angry and he clamed me down, telling me, “Your son only represents himself”.
Afghanistan was the first foreign country Mohammed visited. He spent his holidays with his family in Wadi Jash. He described him as a decent and sociable young man who always sought to do good.
Mohammed bin Jaafar al Masradi al Qahtani was born in 1973 in Riyadh. He attended elementary school in Khobar and later studied in Wadi Jash, in Tathleeth province in Asir. An avid learner, Mohammed sometimes behaved badly like other children his age. He married in 1993 and had two sons, Abdulaziz who later died, and Nasser, aged five, who lives with his mother in Jaafar’s custody.