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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 30th June 2017 > DADDY ISSUES

DADDY ISSUES

Forget ISIS—Al-Qaeda is making a terrifying comeback, led by Osama bin Laden’s son

THE FOOTHILLS of the Spin Ghar mountain range, two dozen miles south of Jalalabad in the borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan, were once home to hundreds of olive plantations. For tens of thousands of acres, there used to be farms clustered along the banks of the Nangarhar Canal, a monumental hydroelectric irrigation project completed in the 1960s, when Afghanistan was safe and liberal enough to form a regular stop on the hippie trail from Europe to India and the Far East. By the turn of the new millennium, however, more than 20 years of continuous warfare had almost destroyed the canal’s capacity to pump water to the groves, all but killing what had once been a flourishing business.

One day in the fall of 2001, with yet another foreign invasion brewing, a father sat with three of his young sons in the shade of one of the few remaining olive trees. Together, they performed a simple farewell ceremony. To each of the three boys, the father gave a misbaha—a set of prayer beads symbolizing the 99 names of God in classical Arabic. Then the father took his leave and disappeared into the mountains, heading for a familiar redoubt known as the Black Cave—or, in the local Pashto language, Tora Bora. “It was as if we pulled out our livers and left them there,” one of the sons recalled in a letter in 2009.

The boy who wrote that letter was Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, who was then the leader of Al-Qaeda. Hamza was to spend most of the next decade in captivity. He grew up behind bars, missing his father deeply. “How many times, from the depths of my heart, I wished to be beside you,” Hamza wrote to him in the letter. “I remember every smile that you smiled at me, every word that you spoke to me and every look that you gave me.”

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THE PRINCE'S TRUST In an interview with Newsweek, Britain’s Prince Harry explains how he found a way to give his life meaning after struggling to cope with the death of his beloved mother, Princess Diana.
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