London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Zaina Bin Laden, the wife of Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden’s fourth son Omar, has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that she has applied for a visa to visit Iran, and that she plans to break the deadlock in the case of her sister-in-law Iman Bin Laden, who remains in the Saudi embassy in Tehran. She also said that her husband’s five siblings, along with Osama Bin Laden’s wife Khayriyah (Umm Hamzah), are living a good life within a residential compound on the outskirts of the capital, Tehran.
In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Zaina Bin Laden said that she and her husband Omar had spoken with 27-year old Othman Bin Laden on Thursday, and he confirmed that the Iranian authorities are treating them well. Zaina also revealed that the Bin Laden children are living in adjacent houses with gardens, they have a laptop but no internet access, and there is a swimming pool in the compound.
She also confirmed that through communication with the relevant authorities in Tehran, she had learnt that the Bin Laden children had entered Iran with non-Saudi passports and under false names. Zaina Bin Laden also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that her husband Omar left Afghanistan using a Sudanese passport under the name Omar Mohamed Abboud. She expressed her thanks to President Ahmadinejad for the Iranian authorities’ good treatment of the Bin Laden children.
For his part, 29-year old Omar Bin Laden, the fourth son of Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, spoke of his hope that the Saudi government would intervene on behalf of his siblings in order to secure their release to Saudi Arabia. In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Omar Bin Laden said “none of my siblings have anything to do with accusations of terrorism made against my father; they are innocent of this blight.”
He added, “Man shall have nothing but what he strives for…That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight [Surat An-Najm, Verse 39-40]. Our loyalty yesterday, today, and tomorrow, was and is to Saudi Arabia, and we swear to God Almighty on that.”
Omar Bin Laden added that all of his siblings are in dire need of re-integrating into Saudi Arabian society, and this requires a special recommendation [from the Saudi government].
Omar Bin Laden also spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about his experience prior to leaving Saudi Arabia, and the difficulties that he faced as a result of being Osama Bin Laden’s son.
Omar Bin Laden’s siblings Saad who is now 30 years old, Othman who is 25, Fatima who is 22, Hamzah who is 20, Iman who is 17, and Bakr who is 15, as well as Osama Bin Laden’s wife Umm Hamzah, have been living in Tehran since the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.
Omar Bin Laden, who is now living in Qatar, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iranian authorities had provided his siblings with housing in a heavily-guarded residential complex in Tehran, and they [the Iranians] are generous in subsidizing the family, and said that Tehran “did not know what to do with this large group of Arab families who are not wanted by any party.”
He said that his siblings who are married and living in Iran have 11 children, and he expressed his hope that the Iranian authorities would permit all members of the family to leave Tehran and return to Saudi Arabia or Syria.
Omar Bin Laden told Asharq Al-Awsat Friday that he believed that his siblings would return from Iran soon, one by one, rather than all at once, and “they will return to the embrace of the homeland, under the banner of the just and honourable [Saudi] government, believing in the holy [Quranic] verse ‘No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another’ [Surat al-Anaam, Verse 164] which is the best well of comfort for them with regards to integrating with the community with their family and relatives.”
He added, “Today we are in need of patronage from the Saudi government that has not abandoned us because we are their children, and that has our pledge and allegiance.”
Asharq Al-Awsat published an interview with Omar Bin Laden last Wednesday in which he revealed that six of his siblings and his father’s wife, Umm Hamzah, have been present in Iran since 2001, also confirming that his sister Iman Bin Laden sought asylum in the Saudi embassy in Tehran after escaping from the guards assigned to her. Osama Bin Laden’s first wife, Najwa al Ghanem told Asharq Al-Awsat the next day that “my children Saad, Othman, Mohamed, Fatima, and Bakr, and their wives and children, in addition to Khayriyah (Umm Hamza) the wife of Bin Laden are being detained in a residential complex.”
Omar Bin Laden also thanked the Syrian authorities for hosting three of his siblings, namely Abdul Rahman, Ruqqiya, and Noor Bin Laden, as well as his mother Najwa al Ghanem.
He praised the Iranian authorities for hosting his six siblings since 2001, as they have not been harmed during this time, and he told Asharq Al-Awsat “the truth is that they are living well, and the Iranians are treating them well.” However Omar Bin Laden added that he prays to God that the Iranians will continue the good deed [of looking after the Bin Laden children] and allow his siblings to leave.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki revealed last week that the Saudi embassy in Tehran had informed the Iranian authorities that Osama Bin Laden’s daughter, Iman, was present in the embassy and wished to leave the country.
Speaking on Iranian television Mottaki said, “The Saudi embassy informed us some time ago that one of Bin Laden’s daughters was present in the Saudi embassy in Tehran.”
He added, “We do not know…how she entered the Saudi embassy, or how she entered Iran in the first place…We were not able to confirm her identity…and if her identity is confirmed she can leave Iran with passage documents.”
Mottaki did not make reference to any other members of the Bin Laden family living in Iran.