Al-Can't see the ironyAl-Can't see the irony

Bin Laden got down to Jewish, Zionist singer

Among audio cassettes belonging to late al-Qaeda leader are the songs of Enrico Macias — an Algerian Jew who said last year he planned to move to Israel

Osama bin Laden (photo credit: AP/file)
Osama bin Laden (photo credit: AP/file)

Playing in Osama bin Laden’s tape deck while he waged jihad against the US, the West and the Zionists were the French pop tunes of an Algerian Jewish singer who has talked about living in Israel.

A collection of 1,500 audio cassette tapes once belonging to al-Qaeda chiefs which were left behind when bin Laden fled Kandahar in 2001, during the US invasion, made their way to Afghan Media Project at Williams College in Massachusetts, the BBC reported Monday.

Among the sermons, recordings and songs sifted through by University of California Davis Arabic expert Flagg Miller was the music of Gaston Ghrenassia, better known as Enrico Macias, an Algerian Jew who made it big in France, and then across the globe, in the 1960s and 70s.

“These songs suggest that that someone, at some point in their life, was enjoying the songs of this Algerian Jew – and may have continued to enjoy them despite other struggles that clearly would have suggested doing so was heresy,” Miller told the BBC.

Enrico Macias and Yasmin Levy perform in Tel Aviv in 2011 (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)
Enrico Macias and Yasmin Levy perform in Tel Aviv in 2011 (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)

“I think this collection of French songs reveal the extent to which Afghan-Arabs in Kandahar spoke many languages, and had many world experiences. Many had lived in the West for long periods and it can’t be said enough that they had led multiple lives,” Miller told the BBC.

Macias, née Gaston Ghrenassia, was born in the Algerian city of Constantine and moved to France in 1961, toward the end of the Algerian War of Independence. There he launched his music career with its distinct Oriental and Arabic sound. A staunch Israel supporter, Macias has visited the Jewish state on multiple occasions.

Last year, Macias announced that he would apply for Israeli citizenship and settle in the country permanently. “I feel free, I feel babayit sheli [at home],” Macias told Channel 2.

The 75-year-old explained that the increased threat of European anti-Semitism spurred his decision to relocate to Israel.

Here’s Macias singing Israel’s national anthem (probably not in the bin Laden collection):

While bin Laden is better known for his violent struggle against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan and orchestrating deadly terrorist attacks against the US, one of his speeches recorded on a tape in the collection features him citing Mahatma Gandhi — an advocate of nonviolence.

“Consider the case of Great Britain, an empire so vast that some say the sun never set on it,” says Bin Laden. “Britain was forced to withdraw from one of its largest colonies when Gandhi the Hindu declared a boycott against their goods. We must do the same thing today with America.”


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