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The diary of Iseema bin Laden

Editor's note: The original entries in the diary of Iseema bin Laden were smuggled out of Afghanistan several weeks ago, through Pakistan, and then to a source in Saudi Arabia, rumored to be a brother of Iseema who once lost half a million dollars to him in a poker game. The hand-written entries have been verified and are definitely the work of Iseema Bin Laden. We are able to publish the excerpts and are working with our source to bring you more up-to-date entries, which we expect to arrive any day now. The problem is the Afghan version of Federal Express: traveling over the mountains via horseback. And that's better than the Afghan Postal Service: donkeys.

A brief biography of Iseema: He is Osama bin Laden's half-brother. They have the same father, different mothers, but apparently are nearly identical in appearance. They apparently also spent their youths in a similar fashion, although Osama is the elder of the two by about a decade. Iseema was attending Harvard University until shortly after the September 11th attacks, when his family sent a private plane to take all the bin Ladens home. Sources say that the family was unhappy with his young man's behavior, particularly after having to pay for repairs on local hotel rooms after Iseema's fraternity parties. Sources also report that the family was unhappy with Iseema's reputation as a playboy.

13 September 2001: On a plane back to Riyadh. The Patriarch must have forgotten to bribe the inspectors back home; not a drop of liquor on the plane. Fortunately I always have a supply with me; vodka mixes with anything. There are no female flight attendants. This is going to be a boring flight. Think I'll catch up on my sleep, the Delta-Delta party was a rough one.

15 September 2001: The Patriarch's idea of a sick joke, I suppose. After I fell asleep on the plane, nobody woke me up when we got to Riyadh. Instead of flying to Jidda, they put me on a plane to Pakistan, a thousand curses on that benighted nation. Worse still, when I got off the plane, some of Osama's men met me and "escorted" me to the religious center of town. There armed mujahadeen put me in the back of a truck and we started driving into the mountains. I'm apparently headed to Afghanistan to talk to Osama. I don't know why; he always hated the way I trailed after him like a puppy when he was back home being the young, rich playboy. Perhaps the Patriarch thinks I will get religion. More likely he thinks I will get killed by one side or the other.

They confiscated my Scotch, but I convinced them my vodka is water. The Taliban guards are not great thinkers. I have two of them believing that waterfalls never empty rivers because when everyone is asleep, the water travels back uphill when no one can see it. This might not be such a bad time, after all. One has to make the best of things.

18 September 2001: We are at one of Osama's hidden camps. I've found out why I'm here. Osama is surrounding himself with look-alikes in case the Americans catch up with him. I curse the day I was born! Why couldn't I look like my mother? May the fleas of a thousand camels infest his beard and the Patriarch's.

No one knows quite yet what the Americans will do, but there is great eagerness for the battle. The Taliban is filled with idiots. When I try to explain to them the kind of weapons the Americans have, the mujahadeen simply laugh and say that Allah will defeat the infidel. Yes, he could, with an American army and American weaponry. I learned to keep my opinions to myself after Mullah Omar overheard me praising the Americans. His stare reminded me of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. That, and his guards' access to and fondness for using whips, is giving me pause.

21 September 2001: If any day is worse than the others, it is the Sabbath day. Not only must we pray, but we must listen to Omar drone on and on about our mission from Allah and the destruction of the infidel. Worse still, he seems to always be looking at me during the sermons, and so I may not nod off. Yesterday he caught me kissing Azra, and had his men give me twenty stripes with the whip. I asked him why they didn't beat Azra; he insisted that I was the one corrupting her. He's hated me since I got here. I'd never seen the man before, how could I know who he was? It was sheer habit to ask the first man I saw to take my bags to my room.

28 September 2001: Pulled through.

3 October 2001: It's getting pretty ripe in these caves. Between moving from cave to cave, the drought, and Osama's lousy hygiene, the only thing good I can say about the burqa is thank Allah it covers up body odors. I can't tell who smells worse, the mujahadeen, the horses, or the women. My money is on the mujahadeen. Oh, for a single stick of deodorant!

5 October 2001: Fell asleep during Omar's sermon. Couldn't help it. There are only so many times you can listen to him vilify America before you automatically tune it out. Woke up chained to a wall in a small, dark room. Well, at least it's quiet here.

6 October 2001: Out of solitary. Stable duty. Wish I was back in solitary.

7 October 2001: The bombing started today. Mullah Omar kept "accidentally" running into me. I said nothing. Went to talk to Osama late in the evening; found a woman in his room, excused myself. The woman removed her veil; it was Osama. Apparently he likes to dress in women's clothing to relax, and the American bombs were distressing him. "Tell no one or you die," he said. Let me tell you, seeing Osama bin Laden in a burqa makes one want to die.

12 October 2001: Made it through Omar's entire sermon. The look of disappointment on his face was worth it. Made the mistake of smiling on my way out of the room. Mucking out stables again tomorrow.

16 October 2001: Got into trouble again today. Damn those all-covering burqas! I saw Azra in a side tunnel and slid my hand across her behind. It turned out to be Amarah, who was grateful for the attention, but is one of the prime reasons the burqa should be implemented: Her face could stop a battleship. Send her out to do battle with the Americans and we'd beat them without another shot fired. Alas, I had to pretend it was her I wanted in the first place, else she'd have alerted the guards and Osama would have had me beaten again. Now I'll probably have to marry her, unless the Americans find us first. They should color-code the burqas. Perhaps I can find a packet of Post-it notes in my baggage, if I could only find my suitcases. Then I could label the women with them. But no, Omar would realize it was I and have his men beat me again.

The real problem is these damned caves. You can't exactly lose yourself in a crowd when you can't be in a crowd. Oh, sure, we've got lots of corridors and some small rooms, but it's not like the market in Riyadh, or even in Kabul. Kabul. You know I've sunk low when I'm wishing I was in a backwater like Kabul. Next thing you know I'll be praying they move us to Kandahar or Jalalabad.

17 October 2001: O Allah, in the name of the Prophet, peace be upon him: Please let us move to Kandahar or Jalalabad! The American bombs are dropping nearer and nearer; I know I wasn't born to die with my fundamentalist big brother. I have places to go, people to meet, women to marry! Not to mention I think Amarah is going to tell my brother I asked for her hand in marriage. It isn't her hand I want, and it wasn't marriage I was thinking of.

To be continued

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