CAIRO (AFP) – Osama bin Laden’s son Omar was deported from Egypt on Sunday after returning from a failed bid for political asylum in Spain, his English-born wife told AFP.
The couple were not allowed to enter Egypt on their return from Spain which on Saturday turned down the 27-year-old bin Laden’s request for political asylum after he said his life was in danger in the Middle East because he is a pacifist.
“The Spanish government said that Omar was safe in Egypt and so had a place to go, but when we arrived in Egypt they deported us,” his wife Zaina Alsabah bin Laden said by telephone from a passenger plane at Cairo airport.
She declined to say where they were heading as it might jeopardise their chances of being able to clear immigration at their destination.
“We’re not feeling very good, seeing that everything we have is in Egypt and we can’t get anything, can’t get (credit) cards, we just have cash.”
However, an airport official said the couple were heading for Qatar.
“Egyptian authorities… have expelled him to Qatar in accordance with his wishes,” the official told AFP.
Omar, one of the 19 children of the fugitive founder of the Al-Qaeda terror network, had appealed against Spain’s refusal on Wednesday to grant him asylum after arriving in Madrid from Cairo.
But the Spanish authorities deemed that his security was not in danger and he returned late on Saturday to Cairo, where the couple met and have been living for several months.
“The directive that Spain gave was illegal because they said we would be accepted in Egypt,” Zaina said.
Zaina on Saturday condemned what she said had been a “political decision,” adding that the couple had been trying to raise money to fly to New Zealand instead of returning to Egypt.
“We pray that some country in the world will be merciful and allow Omar a place to live in peace,” the bin Ladens said in a statement issued while they were in Spain.
“Omar is an innocent young man who has never participated in a single violent act. His only desire is to live the rest of his life in peace.”
Spain’s interior ministry said Wednesday’s decision to turn down the asylum claim was in line with the opinion of the UN refugee agency.
“Our reasons for leaving Egypt and coming to Spain had nothing to do with any actions of the Egyptian government,” the couple said.
“We are most grateful to the Egyptian government and the lovely Egyptian people.
“They graciously showed us every kindness, more than any country in the world, in fact. There were outsiders working within Egypt which created genuine concern for Omar’s safety. That is the only reason we left Egypt.”
Omar bin Laden, who has a Saudi passport, is the fourth child from Osama bin Laden’s first marriage. His wife, 52, whom he married in 2007, is British, having changed her name from Jane Felix-Browne.
He says he has not spoken to his father since 2000, when he decided to leave a training camp in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden’s consent.
The couple, who met while horse riding, set up the “Al-Mirage” horse ranch just outside Cairo after Britain in April rejected a residence application because his presence might cause “considerable public concern.”
They had planned to make a business out of arranging horse and camel back desert safaris from the cream-coloured ranch, which lies in the shadow of some of Egypt’s lesser-known pyramids.
Zaina said on Sunday that she hoped they would be able to go to Britain in early 2009.