Osama Bin Laden children ‘found’ living in Iran
Tehran regime took al-Qaeda leader's family in at time of 9/11 ‘for their own safety’
Some of Osama bin Laden's closest family, including a wife and six children who were living with him at his hideout in Afghanistan until 9/11, have been discovered to be living in a high-security compound outside Tehran, the Iranian capital. The regime has always denied holding any Bin Laden family members, who a relative now describes as "the forgotten victims of 9/11".
During the eight years they have been in the compound, some of the children have been reported killed in bombings and/or accused of joining their infamous father in planning further al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
But according to a report in the Times, apart from two recent escapees, they are still living safely in the walled compound where they were placed by the Tehran regime after they arrived at the Iranian border in 2001, just before the al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre.
According to a relative who says he finally learned of their whereabouts last month, the family members were detained "for their own safety" and have been allowed out only occasionally for shopping trips.
The six children ranged in age from 20 to seven when they were first taken into the compound eight years ago. The exact nature of the compound is unclear but there are apparently other Afghan families living there and one or more of the Bin Laden children has been able to marry and start a family, according to the Times.
One of the children is Muhammed bin Laden, now 25, who it was once speculated had become his father's number two. But it turns out he is still living in the compound.
Two of the children have managed to escape. Saad, who at 20 was the oldest of the children to be taken in by the Iranians, apparently ran away less than 12 months ago, thus disproving the American theory that he was killed by a US drone attack in the Afghan/Pakistan border region 18 months ago.
One of Saad's sisters, Iman, now 17, escaped recently during a shopping trip outside the compound and is reported to be living in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran, seeking permission to leave the country.
The Times has spoken to Omar Ossama bin Laden, 29, the al-Qaeda leader's fourth-eldest son (above with his wife), who has publicly denounced his father and lives in Qatar with his English wife Jane Felix. He said he was unaware until last month that his brothers and sisters were being held in the Tehran compound and now hopes they might be released to live either with his mother in Syria or with him and his wife in Qatar.
"They are all just innocent victims," he said, "just the same as anyone else hurt by the dreadful events of 9/11 and 7/7. These babies and children have never had any education, never hurt a single soul, never trained with any weapons or ever been part of al-Qaeda... The child can't be judged by the sins of their father."
Robert Fox, who writes on security and the Afghan-Pakistan situation for The First Post, said today: "The presence in Iran of members of Bin Laden's family has been an inspired rumour for quite some time, despite constant denials from the Tehran regime. It is a bizarre story which, given the present circumstances, could now turn out to be true.
"Quite why the Iranians would hold the family in the first place, and continue to do so, is not clear. It could just be that you never get rid of a potential hostage. You never know when they might come in useful." ·
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