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He left his pregnant wife for bin Laden: how a football player became a terrorist

Nizar Trabelsi came home and hugged his pregnant wife for the last time. The conversation turned out to be short: the Tunisian announced the end of his football career and divorce. “Now I will become a martyr in the name of Allah,” he said. “He has mental problems”
Trabelsi rocked at a junior level. The first scout of the Belgian Liege noticed his talent. But it did not work out to gain a foothold in the youth team of the club: the 16-year-old midfielder often lashed out at his partners and behaved unnecessarily arrogantly.

Nizar was intercepted by the German Fortuna. At first, Trabelsi played for the second team, but very soon he demanded a transfer to the base.“I always told Nizar that he is a talented guy. He explained that it was not yet time to play for the senior team, but Trabelsi was terribly impatient. He had mental problems, and after training he could even cry,” recalled the coach of “Fortune” Alexander Ristic.

Nizar did not know how to lose. He flooded any failure with alcohol, and by the age of 20 he was addicted to drugs. After Fortune, it was impossible to stay in one club for a long time – Trabelsi regularly changed teams from the lower divisions of Germany. He continued to combine football with wild life. He was even detained a couple of times – all because of petty theft.

Befriended bin Laden
Once in a bar he met Tarek Maarufi, a native of Tunisia, with whom talked about the infringement of the rights of Muslims and options for correcting the current situation in the world.

Trabelsi spoke honestly about his life. The interlocutor listened to him carefully and stated that theft and sale of drugs is the wrong way for a football player. They met several times. Soon, the athlete learned that Maarufi was a member of Al-Qaeda *.

Nizar admired his new friend. So much so that he even decided to follow him to a secret camp in Afghanistan where terrorists were trained. 24-year-old Trabelsi gave up everything – both football and his pregnant wife.

Nizar quickly became his own in a new circle of like-minded people. In 2000, the first meeting with Osama bin Laden took place.

“We drank tea and talked a lot about pan-Islamism. He knew a lot about me – even that I played football, – Nizar told a few years later. Pretty soon he became one of the close associates of the leader of the group."I treated Osama like a father. We had a great relationship, we talked a lot. He definitely didn’t play with me and always behaved sincerely,” Nazer said. a serious task – a terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Paris. The former football player had to pretend to be a diplomat and carry a suitcase with explosives into the building. But the plan failed – the local police arrested one of Nizar's accomplices.

Planned a terrorist attack in September 2001
Al Qaeda did not stop. Islamists conceived a series of terrorist attacks in September 2001. Bin Laden planned an explosion at a US military base in Belgium. Trabelsi was supposed to break into the territory and blow up the truck filled with explosives along with him.But after the September 11 terrorist attack, the intelligence services of European countries became more active and were able to quickly expose Al-Qaeda agents. Two days after the collapse of the twin towers, Nizara and more than two dozen accomplices were detained in the suburbs of Brussels. Several forged passports, weapons and hundreds of kilograms of explosives were found in the house.

In court, Trabelsi did not even try to repent.


“I love Islam, I love Muslims, and I love all people except Americans. I don't care what bin Laden did on 9/11, I don't care. For me, he will remain a close person,” said Nizar.

The former football player was sentenced to ten years in prison in Belgium. Trabelsi tried to escape several times, but all attempts were brutally suppressed. Then he decided to wait until the end of the term. Nizar sincerely believed that he would be released.

< Sits in jail for nine years
In 2013, Trabelsi was released from a Belgian prison and extradited to the United States, where a criminal case was opened against him for threatening his life the American military. He was facing a life sentence without the right to parole. However, the verdict was not delivered like that – the lawyers of the former athlete insisted that their client could not be tried twice for the same crime.

Nizar is still sitting in solitary confinement awaiting a new meeting. According to the ex-wife, it will never take place. “The Americans interrogated me. They said that he would never see the blue sky again,” the woman said in an interview.

* Terrorist organization banned in Russia.


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