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What is it with football stars who end up as terrorists?

Bin Laden was a big fan of Arsenal and watched many of the club’s games

Published: Updated:

The operation that targeted al-Jawhara stadium in Jeddah (West of Saudi Arabia) was foiled by the Saudi security devices. It reminds us of the plots that were to take place in in France and Belgium in May 2016 and kill hundreds of Russian and British fans during the finals of the Euro League that was hosted in “Saint-Denis”.

In 2014, ISIS warned Qatar from hosting the 2022 World Cup.

So what is the relation between terror and the beautiful game of football?

Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was a big fan of the British club Arsenal. He attended many of the Euro Cup games held in Highbury in the heart of London.

According to the Mirror newspaper, bin Laden visited London many times. During one of his visits, he was keen on attending many games in the Euro League 1994 in which Arsenal was playing. He attended the first game that Arsenal played against Belgian rivals Royal Standard de Liège, accompanied by his sons and friends. Arsenal scored 7 goals during that game.

Football fan

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “caliph” of so-called ISIS, was also a football fan. According to the Telegraph, he was the best football player within the Masjed team in Baghdad.

Al-Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin who was killed during the confrontation in the Saudi capital Riyadh on June 18, 2003, and who had plotted the kidnapping and slaughter of American architect Bob Johnson in the Saudi capital Riyadh, was the goalkeeper of his school team in the west of Riyadh.

In Yemen, Jalal Belaidi, leader of Ansar al-Sharia, a branch for al-Qaeda in Yemen, was a football player in one of the under-18 clubs before reaching the first division.

Egyptian 24-year-old Mahmoud Ghandour was a referee before he changed his name to ‘Abu Dagana Ghandour’.

Mohammed al-Moezzi was a British citizen of Kuwaiti origins. After retiring from football, he became ‘Jihadi John’ who became infamous as the masked man holding a knife to kill ISIS hostages.

Mohamed Hassan al-Kawash was also a football player in the Tunisian African Club. He retired from football after being fired from the first division team, and died after becoming an ISIS fighter.

Burak Curran, former player in the ranks of the German national youth team, moved to Syria and joined al-Baghdadi’s organization. He was killed in an air strike.

Michael dos Santos was a football player in the French team CO Vincennes. He retired from football and named himself Abu Othman when he left for Syria and participated in the killing of 18 hostages.

Portuguese Celso Rodrigues da Costa, allegedly a former Arsenal player, joined the fighting in Syria and called himself Abu Isa al-Andaluzi.

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