CBS, Coke, Nesquick and More Brands Endorsed By Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden suggested CBS as unbiased for a taped message. See more Western institutions he endorsed.

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JOHN P. FILO

CBS

 The Combating Terrorism Library at West Point on May 3, 2012 published 17 correspondences that were discovered at Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound during the deadly raid a year earlier—and the terrorist leader’s news preferences start to come out. For the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, bin Laden considered sending a tape to one of the American news channels, and suggested that “we should look for an American channel that can be close to being unbiased, such as CBS, or other channel that has political motives that make it more interested in broadcasting the point of view of al Mujahadin.” Bin Laden asked Adam Gadahn, the American who became an al Qaeda spokesman to do some research into what channel they should use. Gadahn’s answer? They’re all the same, except for Fox News, which he wrote “falls into the abyss, and you know, lacks neutrality too.” He doesn’t share bin Laden’s love of CBS, writing “I see it like the other channels, but it has a famous program (60 Minutes) that has some popularity and a good reputation.” Gadahn’s choice? MSNBC, pre-Keith Olbermann’s firing, that is. “I used to think MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit, but it has lately fired its most famous journalists—Keith Olbermann and Octavia Nasser the Lebanese—because they released some statements that were open to argument.”

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Pepsi/Coke

Though one of his followers remarked, "The Americans love Pepsi Cola, but we love death," Osama bin Laden was also a big fan of Pepsi and Coke. Businessweek reported that according to grocer Anjum Qaisar, whose store is located about 150 meters from the late terrorist's Abbottabad compound, two polite Pakistanis who called themselves Akbar and Rashid Khan made daily shopping trips to his store for bulk food orders that regularly included Pepsi and Coke—two soft drinks that, in an uncharacteristically diplomatic move, were equally favored by the terrorist. "I was curious about why they bought so much food, but I did not want to be rude by asking" such a personal question, Qaisar told Businessweek. The Khans also have been identified as the owners of bin Laden's compound.

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Mitsubishi and Suzuki

Bin Laden's unknowing grocer, Anjum Qaisar, also told Businessweek that the al Qaeda leader's two errand boys, Akbar and Rashid Khan, "never came by foot, they always drove a Pajero or a little Suzuki van, and they bought enough food for 10 people." The Mitsubishi Pajero is a sport-utility vehicle whose name pajero is, coincidentally enough, a slang term for "wanker" in some varieties of Spanish. Perhaps even the world's most wanted terrorists buy Japanese these days.

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Avena Syrup

NBC News got hold of the list of items in the 54-year-old terrorist's medicine cabinet, and among the myriad items one really stuck out: Avena syrup. An extract of wild oats, Avena is widely marketed as an herbal form of Viagra, used to treat impotency. It's also used as an artificial sweetener, for a sour stomach. "The caution is, we don't know who used what," Cynthia Reilly, a pharmacist and director of practice development for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, told NBC News. "And we know that in the United States, 40 percent of medication use is off-label," meaning it is used to treat conditions for which it has not been approved.

Vaseline

Spending five years inside a compound, receiving little natural sunlight, won't do wonders for your skin. Among the items discovered on ABC News' exclusive video inside bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was a family-size jar of Vaseline—a petroleum jelly commonly used as either a lubricant or to provide moisture for dehydrated skin tissue. Since the al Qaeda leader spent five years planted in front of TV and computer screens, perhaps the former is more likely.

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Nestle Milk

In addition to loading up on Pepsi and Coke from Anjum Qaisar's grocery store in Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden's Boys Friday, Akbar and Rashid Khan, "always bought the best brands—Nestle milk, the good-quality soaps and shampoos," Qaisar told Businessweek. "They always paid cash, never asked for credit." It's no surprise that bin Laden favored Nestle. According to Ogilvy Noor, the unit of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather that focuses on marketing to Muslims, Nestle is the second-most "Muslim-friendly" brand in the world.

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Arsenal F.C.

According to accounts from bin Laden's childhood friend, Khaled Batarfi, as well as his bodyguard of four years, Nasser al-Bahri, the al Qaeda leader was a huge football (soccer) enthusiast. Furthermore, bin Laden biographer Adam Robinson has attested that the terrorist was a big fan of the British football club Arsenal during his time living in London from 1993 to 1994, The Mirror reported. Robinson claims bin Laden attended four matches while living in London, where he was looking to finance his operations—which happened to coincide with the Gunners' run to the European Cup Final. When reports emerged shortly after the 9/11 attacks of bin Laden's Arsenal fandom, a club spokesman stated in November 2001: "We've seen the reports in the papers. Clearly he wouldn't be welcome at Highbury in the future."

Natrilix

While bin Laden's youngest widow, 29-year-old Amal, told Pakistani authorities, "He was neither weak nor frail," refuting reports that the former al Qaeda leader was on kidney dialysis, she also said he "believed in his own medication." Among the items found in Osama's medicine cabinet at his compound in Abbottabad was Natrilix—a drug used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, reported NBC News. According to Cynthia Reilly, a pharmacist and director of practice development for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the drug should not be used for people with kidney failure.

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Marijuana

Among the strange discoveries at Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad is an alleged $1 million worth of marijuana plants found just yards from the home, according to CNN's Nic Robertson. The property included a farmer's field growing cabbages and potatoes on three sides of the compound, and marijuana up the side of the compound. The Daily Mail reported that since bin Laden reportedly suffered from kidney problems, the pain would have been eased by marijuana. In fact, many Americans can be prescribed medicinal marijuana for kidney failure. Pakistan makes an estimated $4 billion a year through the drug trade, although the country's top drug is opium, not marijuana.

Al Jazeera

In the five never-before-seen videos of Osama bin Laden released by the U.S. on Saturday, one shows bin Laden watching himself on Al Jazeera. With a name that translates to "the island," (which stands for "the Arabian Peninsula"), this Arabic-language satellite television network (which also has an English-language channel) first gained widespread attention immediately following the 9/11 attacks for broadcasting controversial videos in which Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith defended the attacks. The airing of the tapes led to the U.S. government accusing the network of providing a forum for terrorist propaganda. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently praised the network for its coverage of the uprisings in the Middle East, saying Al Jazeera was, "changing peoples' minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective."

Volleyball

Osama bin Laden's bodyguard of four years, Nasser al-Bahri, released a memoir in 2010 that detailed some of bin Laden's hobbies. In addition to playing center forward in football, which he excelled at despite never taking off his turban, bin Laden, according to al-Bahri, was quite handy on the volleyball court—not a huge surprise given his height, listed between 6-foot-4 inches and 6 foot-6 inches by the FBI, and the fact that he's left-handed. "He is so tall that he does not need to jump up to do a smash," said al-Bahri, according to The Sunday Times. No word on whether he enjoyed the infamous "volleyball scene" in Top Gun.

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The Euro

Everyone seems to be into the euro these days. First, rapper Jay-Z dissed the U.S. dollar, instead choosing to flaunt a wad of euros in his 2007 music video for "Blue Magic," and supermodel Gisele Bündchen stated that she preferred to be paid in euros because of the dollar's volatility. Now, according to Politico, bin Laden reportedly had €500 in cash and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed—signs that he was ready to flee his compound in Abbottabad at a moment's notice. The details were told to members of Congress by CIA Director Leon Panetta, and a source at the meeting says it was because bin Laden believed "his network was strong enough he'd get a heads-up" that the U.S. was closing in.

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Whitney Houston

One of the most outrageous Osama bin Laden-related stories surfaced in 2006, when Sudanese poet and novelist Kola Boof, who claimed to have served as bin Laden's sex slave for four months in the 1990s, alleged that the al Qaeda leader was obsessed with singer Whitney Houston. "He said that he had a paramount desire for Whitney Houston, and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke of someday spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting with the superstar," Boof told The Daily Mail. Boof also claimed bin Laden wanted to gift Houston with a mansion he owned in a suburb of Khartoum, and talked about "how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband, Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women's husbands killed."

Jimmy Carter's Book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

Nasser al-Bahri, Osama bin Laden's longtime bodyguard, claims that the terrorist was a "voracious reader" who often quoted the memoirs of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and Charles de Gaulle, reported The Mirror. In addition to those tomes, The New York Times reported that messages by bin Laden were found commenting on the writings of Noam Chomsky, and that he praised former President Jimmy Carter's book supporting Palestinian rights, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Of course, bin Laden didn't just have lust "in his heart," as Carter notoriously told Playboy that he himself did; the terrorist had 24 children with four wives.

BBC News

In addition to watching himself on Al Jazeera, dyeing his beard black for his detestable video-recorded messages, reading up on Jimmy Carter and Noam Chomsky, and fantasizing over Whitney Houston, Osama bin Laden was reportedly a big fan of the BBC. The New York Times reported that bin Laden's son, Omar, who lived with him in Afghanistan until 1999, described his hermit-like father as sitting around constantly listening to the BBC. There's no word yet on whether bin Laden had a radio in his raided compound in Abbottabad, where he was killed.