20 March 2010 – 20H43
Bin Laden son slams Qaeda, says family doing well in Iran
Osama bin Laden’s son Omar, pictured in 2008, said on Saturday that Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch should keep out of his family’s affairs, after it accused Iran of mistreating his siblings stranded in Tehran.
AFP – Osama bin Laden’s son Omar said on Saturday that Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch should keep out of his family’s affairs, after it accused Iran of mistreating his siblings stranded in Tehran.
The Al-Qaeda chief’s fourth son also confirmed that his sister Iman bin Laden together with their mother Najwa al-Ghanem had been allowed to leave Iran on Thursday after months of trying, and they were now in Damascus.
“We confirm that Iman left Iran with her mother three days ago,” Omar told AFP by telephone from Britain.
On Friday, the Saudi-financed daily Asharq Al-Awsat said Iman, who took refuge in the Saudi embassy in Tehran in November after evading her Iranian minders, and Ghanem who is of Syrian origin had been allowed to leave Iran.
Omar bin Laden criticised charges by both his half-brother Khalid and from the North African branch of Al-Qaeda that Iran had mistreated Bin Laden family members living in Tehran under house arrest since fleeing Afghanistan in 2001.
“From Omar bin Laden to the leader of the Al-Qaeda team in Morocco: violence only breeds more violence,” he said.
“I, as the son of your leader, I am telling you that this case is mine alone. I am in charge of it, I have full responsibility over all my brothers and sisters, wherever they may be.
“I don’t accept or agree with this kind of threat.”
On Friday, the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service reported that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had warned the Iranian government to free bin Laden’s family members.
“They should know we are people of dignity, glory and honour, and we are ready to sacrifice ourselves and all that we own for Sheikh Osama and his family and for every Muslim man and woman.”
That followed the release of a letter from Khalid bin Laden to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei which accused the Islamic republic of harming family members.
“They requested a number of times to leave Iran, only to be beaten and silenced,” Khalid wrote.
Omar, 29, who has condemned his father’s jihadist ideology, denied those charges.
“I know 100 percent that my brothers and sisters have been well treated. They have told me from their own mouths,” he said.
“The Iranian government made me a promise, they kept to their promise” to allow his youngest sister to leave, he added.
He said at least 16 other family members in Iran had not left because they had not found a country to take them in.
“The Iranians have been very caring and kind to my family. If anyone asks why they are still in Iran, it is because we have not been able to find them any country to accept them.”
Omar’s British wife Zaina told AFP the Saudi government had been helpful in securing Iman’s exit, but that family members were not expected to go to Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden’s home country.
His estranged homeland has stripped the Al-Qaeda chief of Saudi nationality.