It isn’t unheard of for a person to be arrested while driving a car. They can get caught driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence (those are actually two different violations in many states, synonymous though they might seem), or forget to turn on their lights at night when they drive fifteen feet to a new parking space (fuck you quota-cop), and they’ll surely feel the blow of the gavel of justice.
But one driver near the border of Yemen and Afghanistan isn’t being tried for any specific traffic violation. He’s being tried as the one at the helm of the car that carried the leader of the not-free world, Osama bin Laden. For Salim Ahmed Hamdan, 39, what began as a simple valet job at a posh Afghan restaurant, until he caught the eye of a wily terrorist and was soon swept deep into the heart of intrique and evil, ended with what, in the world of the War on Terrorism, is described as a big international no-no.
Some say he had his foot on the pedal of the Vehicle of Terrorism. And he used his other foot – the left one – for the brakes. That’s right: he proceeded contrary to what you might have learned in driver’s ed.: he used a different foot for gas and brakes. But this adversity fell in line with his M.O. He wasn’t, after all, driving a Buick down the paved streets of America’s Philadelphia. He was driving the Vehicle of Terrorism (in this case a GMC Denali) through the Shelob-sized spider holes of Tora Bora.
Initial reports show that our driver (I mean, their driver) was an otherwise considerate driver. He never talked on a cell phone while manning the wheel of the VoT. He generally used his turn signal. Sure he exceeded the speed limit on occasion, but it was only when he was sure there weren’t any other cars on the road. Or when they were being chased by an Apache Warcopter. One source close to the automobile pilot said that he remembered him frequently using a low gear when descending steep hills. This witness, identified by AP only as “Osama B.L.”, also noted that Hamdan would frequently get a kick out of the chirp-chirp sound of the remote lock. “He would laugh like a little boy,” said Osama. “But he eventually ended up with a habit of locking the doors two or three times after we’d park. So he was told to ‘refrain or be sacrificed’ – a short-lived, but popular phrase – because all the chirping was putting passengers on edge.” Hamdan, known for his multi-pocketed vest stolen from the corpse of a photo-journalist, and for his Tom-Cruise-in-Risky-Business style Wayfarer sunglasses, is especially notorious for having once driven all the way from Sharan to Kabul with the parking break on. The journey lasted the entire night, with everyone onboard being pretty strung out from the events of the day. It wasn’t until they neared Kabul that a passenger, “Ibrahim C.”, became alarmed by an odd smell. So he pointed a gun at Hamdan’s head and demanded an explanation. Hamdan himself had become aware of the smell, and also its source – his mistake – about an hour earlier. But he had been too embarrassed and frightened to do anything about it. He just continued onward, hoping no one else would notice.
With a gun to his head, he feared reaching down to release the lever. Later, he was heard to say that at this moment he was getting close to passing out from terror. It was bin Laden himself who came to the rescue. Bin Laden speared Ibrahim with his cane, told him to “chill out”, and then note groggily that it was probably just the e-brake. Hamdan had to agree, and he released the level and exhaled a rapid string of ten apologies. From there the laughter spread throughout the car.
It should be noted that Ibrahim later defected from the cell, and is rumored to be a key player in Hamdan’s arrest.
Free the driver?! (“Free Hamdan” icon will soon follow. and then become wildly popular… seriously, does anyone else think it’s funny how newcasters have so simplified this man’s position?)