Recent reports in the Afrikaans language newspaper Rapport indicate that Osama bin Laden’s wealthy family has worked for years to increase the influence of Islam in South Africa, specifically in the Zulu-speaking community.

This activity includes giving millions to translate the Koran into Zulu and converting Zulus in key legal and law-enforcement positions to Islam fundamentalism.

Yousouf Deedat, 45, of Durban, South Africa confirmed that his Islamic center received substantial funding from the bin Laden family and that Deedat family members often traveled to Saudi-Arabia and had met Osama bin Laden there over the years. They also claim bin Laden is being turned into a scapegoat by American authorities.

Deedat, who triggered a storm when he distributed thousands of anti-Semitic handbills featuring a picture of Adolf Hitler during the World Conference Against Racism in Durban last month, said he and his father first met bin Laden in 1989 in Saudi Arabia and again in the 1990s while the Deedats were drumming up support for the Islamic Propagation Center International in Durban.

The Deedats have had close links with the bin Laden family since first meeting Osama’s elder brother, Sheikh Bakr bin Laden, in 1986. Since then, many of the 27 Bin Laden brothers have contributed generously to the center. The sheikh alone gave the center $3.1 million over eight years to buy a building, print the Koran in English and Zulu, and print and distribute Islamic literature. At least 100,000 Zulu translations of the Koran were distributed in South Africa, say both Islamic and government sources.

In appreciation, the Deedats named their building on Durban’s Victoria Street after the family in 1988.

Deedat told the South Africa media that bin Laden had also invited him on a number of occasions to attend his lectures in Saudi Arabia.

“He moved me to tears. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke in public, he had this magnetic effect on all who listened to him.” Whether he was guilty or not, Deedat said, the U.S. would “always use him as a scapegoat.”

Other Muslims in Durban also told the newspapers that they frequently met bin Laden in Saudi Arabia, where he reportedly holds regular lectures and maintains close ties with his entire bin Laden clan.

This information from Durban contradicts claims from U.S. government sources that bin Laden had been “estranged” from his Saudi tribe for many years – and had in fact been living in Afghanistan. Evidence coming out of South Africa suggests that bin Laden’s entire Saudi family backs his activities completely.

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