London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Osama Bin Laden’s daughter, Iman, is preparing to leave Iran for Syria today or within the next few days. The sources also revealed that Iman Bin Laden – who sought refuge in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran in early December – has completed the required paperwork at the Tehran bureau that specializes in foreign residents in order to obtain an exit visa to leave Iran.
Asharq Al-Awsat learnt that the bureau in question dealt with Iman Bin Laden in a positive manner however her security guards were harassed by plainclothes Iranian security men once she had left the bureau. Iranian sources also revealed that Iman Bin Laden – along with her mother Najwa Ghanem who arrived in Tehran to be with her daughter – were transferred to the Istiqlal Hotel in Tehran in preparation for their forthcoming departure to Syria.
According to informed Iranian sources, Najwa Ghanem arrived in Iran around 10 days ago, and the Iranian authorities immediately confiscated her passport and her mobile phone. However sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iranian authorities returned her passport and mobile telephone to Najwa Ghanem yesterday evening.
Sources also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “a group of Osama Bin Laden’s children arrived in Syria, while another group remains in Tehran.” The sources added that Bakr Bin Laden had previously arrived in Damascus [from Tehran] where he remained for a week before returning to his family [in Saudi Arabia]. The sources refused to comment on whether Bakr Bin Laden had been questioned by the Syrian authorities.
Asharq Al-Awsat attempted to contact the Syrian embassy in Tehran in order to obtain a comment about the group of Bin Laden children in Damascus, but calls were not returned at the time of going to press.
Asharq Al-Awsat also made several attempts to contact the Saudi embassy in Tehran, but similarly at the time of going to press, calls had not been returned.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal previously stated that “Iman Bin Laden is present in the embassy…we consider this issue to be a purely humanitarian issue and we are in negotiations with the Iranian government to deal with this issue on the same level, and we do not want to get involved in the political issues relating to this case because I do not want to complicate the issues, and possibly delay Iman’s departure from Tehran.”
Asharq Al-Awsat previously learnt that Iman Bin Laden had obtained [Saudi] “travel permits” from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran in order to facilitate her departure from Iran. These travel permits are equivalent to a passport and include identification information such as picture, date of birth, and other information.
Asharq Al-Awsat exclusively revealed on 23 December 2009 that Iman Bin Laden had sought refuge in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and that 6 Bin Laden children and one of Bin Laden’s wives were being held by Iran. This story contradicted the hypotheses of the international intelligence community with regards to the location of Bin Laden’s children. This story was later picked up by the international media, and events began to unfold quickly after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that the Saudi embassy in Tehran had informed the Iranian authorities that one of Bin Laden’s daughters was present in the embassy and wanted to leave the country. Mottaki said “We were not able to confirm her identity…and if her identity is confirmed she can leave Iran.”
At the same time, Iman Bin Laden’s mother Najwa Ghanem praised Mottaki’s acknowledgement of her daughter’s presence in Tehran. She told Asharq Al-Awsat that Mottaki’s comments came as a great relief, as this was the first time that the Iranian Foreign Minister had acknowledged her daughter’s presence in his country. Najwa Ghanem added that events developed quickly after Asharq Al-Awsat revealed that six of Bin Laden’s children, in addition to one of his wives, had been secretly held by Tehran for more than eight years.
Iman Bin Laden previously informed Asharq Al-Awsat, via her brother Omar Bin Laden, that she has missed her mother, Najwa Ghanem, greatly. She spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat that her faith in God and affirmed her belief that He will not let her perish. Iman Bin Laden revealed that she has confidence that the prayers she has made continuously at night for God to lessen the ordeal that her and her siblings are going through will be answered. Iman explained that she has found goodwill and generosity in the officials at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, as they are making a difficult situation easier for her. She indicated that “those officials are not making me feel like a stranger but rather [they are treating me] like one of their daughters