Omar bin Laden
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|Omar bin Laden|
|Born||1981 (age 34–35)
Sugan, Saudi Arabia
|Parent(s)||Osama bin Laden
|Relatives||Abdallah bin Laden (brother)
Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (grandfather)
Hamida al-Attas (grandmother)
Omar bin Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (Arabic: عمر بن أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن, ʿUmar bin ʾUsāmah bin Muḥammad bin ʿAwaḍ bin Lādin; born 1981), better known as Omar bin Laden, is one of the sons of Osama bin Laden and his first wife and first cousin Najwa Ghanem (see Bin Laden family). He is the fourth-eldest son among 20 children of Osama bin Laden. Older reports have described Omar and his brother Abdallah bin Laden as nephews or cousins of Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden was born the grandson of Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, the founder of one of the wealthiest non-royal families in Saudi Arabia, and the son of Osama bin Laden, whose partisan activities shaped his childhood. Bin Laden accompanied his father on his exile to Sudan from 1991 to 1996, and then to Afghanistan after that. He said that he trained in al-Qaeda camps beginning at the age of 14, but after training with al-Qaeda for six years and sharing a house with al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, he left al-Qaeda in 2000 because he did not want to be associated with killing civilians and his father Osama did not object.
Bin Laden runs his own company in Jeddah as a contractor and scrap metal dealer. Jeddah, a major city and important transit port for Saudi Arabia, is the site of the headquarters of the Saudi Binladen Group and has been reported to be "truly" ruled by Bakr bin Laden.
Marriage to Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah
Omar married Jane Felix-Browne, who also goes by the name Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah, a parish councillor from Moulton, near Northwich in Cheshire in the United Kingdom, on September 15, 2006. The marriage was conducted in September 2006 in Islamic ceremonies in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, after which the couple spent a few months together in Jeddah before Zaina returned to Britain for several weeks. Zaina has been married five times previously, beginning with a Saudi man at the age of 16, who introduced her to several members of the bin Laden family. She believes she met Osama bin Laden at a party in London in the 1970s.
It has been reported that Felix-Browne met bin Laden while she was undergoing treatment for multiple sclerosis. They met on a horseback ride at the Giza pyramids in Egypt. She is his second wife and is 24 years older than he is, with five grandchildren. She was aware when she married Omar that he had been married and divorced, with a 2-year-old son.
After their wedding, Al-Sabah described the stress of bin Laden's family background: "Omar is wary of everyone. He is constantly watching people who he feels might be following him. Not without reason he is fearful of cameras. He is the son of Osama. But when we are together he forgets his life." The couple announced their divorce in September 2007, which was said to be in response to threats to their "lives and liberty" from two unspecified sources known to them in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Al-Sabah said she didn't regard herself as divorced and that as the divorce was done under duress did not have legal standing under Sharia law. After 2 weeks, Zaina and Omar decided not to part.
In January 2008, bin Laden applied for a British spousal immigration visa which would have permitted him to reside indefinitely at his wife's home in Moulton, Cheshire, a process which required him to provide original documentation of his divorce from his first wife. The couple stated their desire to have a child using a surrogate mother. One report stated the visa application was denied because Omar failed to provide his father's permanent address. However, a later report by The Times of Omar's appeal stated that the visa had been denied by an entry clearance officer at the UK embassy in Cairo because Omar's entry would cause "considerable public concern." The officer was quoted, "I note that statements made during recent media interviews indicate evidence of continuing loyalty to your father, and your presence in the UK could, therefore, cause considerable public concern." This written statement was shown to The Associated Press by the couple's legal firm, but Britain's Home Office declined to comment to the press on an individual case. In April 2008, bin Laden and Al-Sabah said they planned to appeal the ruling, calling it "unjust and arbitrary", stating that Al-Sabah requires medical attention in Britain and that her appeal to live with him in Saudi Arabia could take years to process. As of April 2008, bin Laden has a house in Cairo.
In April 2010, bin Laden was denied a visa to promote his book Osama bin Laden: A Family Portrait in France and elsewhere in Europe. Specifically, the countries of the Schengen zone, a block of 25 nations across Europe including Germany, France and Spain, rejected his request for a visa.
In July 2010, Felix-Browne told the media that bin Laden suffers from bipolar disorder and that he was in a Qatari mental institution after hearing voices. Felix-Browne told the media that when bin Laden returned to the UK, Felix-Browne told him she wanted a divorce. As of 2015, Omar and Zaina have been married for 9 years and are living in an undisclosed country. All previous talk of divorce was publicized under duress and threats to their lives and their families lives.
North African horse race
In January 2008, an Associated Press interview in Cairo featured bin Laden with cornrows and a black leather biker jacket promoting a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) horse race for peace across North Africa. PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk called for the cancellation of the race in an "urgent letter" from the organization, predicting that the gruelling race would lead to fatalities among the horses.
Omar described the race as an equine counterpart to the cancelled 2008 Paris-Dakar car rally, saying, "I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida. I don't think they are going to stop me." The race was canceled after the killings of four French tourists near Aleg, Mauritania on Christmas Eve 2007. Following the murders race organizers received threats directly from heavily armed and organized groups linked to al-Qaeda, which led them to cancel the race on January 4, 2008 and soon after to plan the 2009 event for South America. Police in Guinea-Bissau said that two of five men arrested for the crime on January 11, 2008 admitted their involvement with al-Qaeda.
Relationship to his father and al-Qaeda
Omar said that his father felt that he was just trying to defend the Islamic world, and that his father was not a terrorist "because history tells you he's not". In an interview with ABC News he said, "My father is very kind man. And he very sorry when he do something like 11th September." Osama ordered the attacks "Because he believes if he put two buildings down, maybe some people, little will die, but millions other will (be) save(d). He believed that. ... I believe he did it the wrong". In a January 21, 2008 CNN interview, he said "I try and say to my father: 'Try to find another way to help or find your goal. This bomb, this weapons, it's not good to use it for anybody". Regarding the September 11 attacks, he said, "I don't think 9/11 was right personally, but it happened. I don't think ... [the war] in Vietnam was right. I don't think what's going on in Palestine is right. I don't think what's going on in Iraq is right. If we make what is right and not right, we will make a very big list."
Bin Laden stated that he had not been in contact with his father since leaving Afghanistan in 2000. He said, "The last time I saw my father was in 2000, 2001. I was in Saudi Arabia and felt a terrible sorrow for all the victims [of the September 11 attacks]", "My father has a kind heart", and "I do not believe my father is dead, otherwise I would have known it; the world would have known it." When asked whether he would tell the Americans if he found out where his father was living, he said with a smile, "Actually, I would hide him. Because he is my father."
According to Time, Omar has stated a desire to become an "ambassador of peace" between Muslims and the West. Omar said that his father offered a truce to Europe in a 2004 videotape and a conditional truce with the United States in a 2006 videotape. "My father is asking for a truce but I don't think there is any government (that) respects him. At the same time they do not respect him, why everywhere in the world, they want to fight him? There is a contradiction." The truces offered in these videos of Osama bin Laden were promptly rejected at the time.
After arriving in Rome from Switzerland amid heavy security on February 2, 2008, bin Laden said in a television interview that night "I would very much like to meet the Pope in Saint Peter's, but I have been told that it is not easy."
On November 3, 2008, Spain's Interior Ministry, upon recommendation by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees denied, for "insufficient evidence of danger or threat to [his] life", Omar's political asylum petition, after he was refused a UK visa. Omar had 24 hours to appeal, after he made his claim at Madrid's Barajas International Airport upon a stopover on a flight from Cairo, Egypt to Casablanca, Morocco.
Bin Laden and his wife arrived in Doha, Qatar (where, as a Saudi citizen with a Saudi passport, he would have right of entry), on November 9, 2008, after deportation by Egypt per its denial of their entry.
Bin Laden and his mother Najwa bin Laden published a book authored with Jean Sasson in late October 2009, titled Growing Up bin Laden. According to media coverage, the book details that "the kids grew up in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Afghanistan without laughter or toys, were routinely beaten, and lost their pets to painful death from poison gas experiments by their father's fighters." It states that Osama bin Laden tried to persuade his son to volunteer for suicide missions and exposed him to dangerous conditions visiting training camps in Afghanistan and sending him to the front lines of the Afghan civil war. The book describes the family living in Jeddah without air conditioning or refrigeration, treating asthma with honeycombs and onions, and eventually moving to stone huts in Tora Bora without electricity or running water in 1996.
Death of his father
Bin Laden published a complaint on May 10, 2011, that the burial at sea of his father Osama deprived the family of a proper burial. Amongst making several other claims regarding the mission that killed his father, such as stating that no one living at the compound was armed, he requested that the UN and other international groups investigate the killing of Osama as a criminal matter; his requests were ignored by the U.S. and no actions based on them have been taken as of 2016.
- Farah, Douglas; Priest, Dana (2003-10-14). "Bin Laden Son Plays Key Role in Al Qaeda". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-20. [title refers to Saad bin Laden ]
- David Brown (2007-07-11). "Briton marries bin Laden’s son". The Times (London).
- "Bin Laden's braided peacenik son on a mission". CNN. 2008-01-18.[dead link]
- "Profile:Omar bin Laden".
- Michael Petrou (2007-03-19). "Happy 50th, Osama: More than five years since 9/11, bin Laden, at mid-life, terrorizes us still".
- Paul Schemm (2008-01-17). "Bin Laden Son Wants to Be Pe Activist". Bismarck Tribune.
- Aneesh Raman (2008-01-21). "Bin Laden's son to father: Change your ways". CNN.
- Tom Leonard (2008-01-23). "Osama bin Laden's son asks 'find another way'". London: Telegraph.co.uk.
- Nick Watt (2008-01-21). "Bin Laden's Son Wants to Make Up for Father's 'Mistake'". ABC News.
- Omar Bin Laden: Mental Illness Caused by Genes or Stress? - ABC News
- Georg Mascolo and Erich Follath (2005-06-06). "Osama's Road to Riches and Terror".
- "Councillor weds Bin Laden's son". BBC News Online. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "U.K. divorcee reportedly marries bin Laden son". 2007-07-11.
- BBC One - Mr and Mrs Bin Laden
- "British woman says she wed Osama's son". USA Today. 2007-07-11.
- "Brit bin Laden "Bahu" Raises Eyebrows".
- "Briton to divorce bin Laden's son". BBC News Online. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-18.
- "Bin Laden's son wants a visa - so he and his grandmother bride can live in Cheshire and have a surrogate baby". Daily Mail (London). 2008-01-13.
- "Bin Laden's son applies for British visa". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-01-14.
- "British Divorcee Marries Son Of Osama Bin Laden". CBS. 2007-07-11.
- "Bin Laden's son plans legal challenge to battle for UK visa". Daily Mail (London). 2008-04-30.
- Erlanger, Steven (2010-04-15). "France: Bin Laden Son Is Denied Visa". The New York Times.
- Bin Laden's Son Denied Visa for European Book Tour - FOX 13 News
- Sloan, Jenna. "Omar bin Laden’s wife on why they split up – The Sun –Features". The Sun (London).
- "Bin Laden's son and British wife split after he heard 'Osama's voice in his head'". Daily Mail (London). 2010-07-09.
- "Bin Laden Son Wants to Be Peace Activist".
- "PETA urges Laden’s son to cancel horse race". 2008-02-04.
- "People: Kylie Minogue, James Blunt, Emma Thompson". The Times (London). 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20. (Collection of news shorts)
- Schemm, Paul (2008-01-19). "Omar Osama bin Laden organising horse race for peace". Herald Sun.
- "Tourists shot dead in Mauritania". BBC. 2007-12-24.
- "Terror threat leads to cancellation of Dakar Rally".
- "Dakar Rally to Relocate to South America?".
- "Bissau extradites al Qaeda suspects to Mauritania".
- "Bin Laden son: I am for peace". New York Post. 2008-01-18. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008.
- "Bin Laden wants to meet pope". 2008-02-05.
- "Friday, Jan. 18, 2008 - Quotes of the Day". Time. 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Osama's son wants to be peace ambassador between West and Muslims".
- "UK 'Bin Laden' offers Europe truce". BBC. 2004-04-15.
- "Europe: No deal with bin Laden". CNN. 2004-04-15. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "U.S. rejects bin Laden tape's 'truce' offer". CNN. 2006-01-20. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- news.bbc.co.uk, Bin Laden son asylum bid rejected
- nytimes.com, Spain: Asylum Denied to One of bin Laden’s Sons
- edition.cnn.com, Bin Laden son loses asylum plea
- africa.reuters.com, Bin Laden son, rejected by Egypt, arrives in Qatar
- english.chosun.com, Egypt Refuses Entry to Bin Laden's Son
- www.channelnewsasia.com, Osama bin Laden's son in Qatar after being deported from Egypt
- Andrew Lee Butters (2009-10-07). "Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Son Speaks". Time Magazine.
- Susannah Cahalan (2009-10-11). "Tales from the Bin Laden clan:Wife and son bare secrets of terror kingpin". New York Post.
- Donna Abu-Nasr (2010-01-06). "Osama bin Laden's family, parenting exposed in son's book".
- "Son of Osama bin Laden describes brutal childhood". Associated Press. 2010-01-10.
- Growing Up Bin Laden:Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World, Jean Sasson, Omar bin Laden, and Najwa bin Laden (St. Martin's Press) 2009. ISBN 978-0-312-56016-4, ISBN 0-312-56016-8
- "Statement From the Family of Osama bin Laden", May 10, 2011, New York Times