Tags: osama bin laden | mother | alia ghanem | the guardian | interview

Osama Bin Laden's Mother Thinks He Just Lost His Way

Osama Bin Laden's Mother Thinks He Just Lost His Way
Osama bin Laden at a 1998 news conference in Khost, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

By    |   Friday, 03 August 2018 08:46 AM

Osama bin Laden’s mother, speaking out for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, said her son the al Qaeda terrorist leader simply lost his way after being "brainwashed" into a life of jihad.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, approved by Saudi Arabia’s new leadership and published on Thursday, Alia Ghanem said her son was transformed in college.

"The people at university changed him," Ghanem said, referring to Abdullah Azzam, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who would become bin Laden's spiritual adviser. "He became a different man.”

"He was a very good child until he met some people who pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s. You can call it a cult. They got money for their cause,” Ghanem said. “I would always tell him to stay away from them, and he would never admit to me what he was doing, because he loved me so much."

Ghanem had refused to talk about Osama bin Laden – as had most of his wider family – throughout his reign as al-Qaida leader that ended more than nine years later with his death in Pakistan. The enormously wealthy bin Laden family is still very influential in Saudi Arabia but their movements and engagements remain closely monitored.

Led by the ambitious 32-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi government agreed to let The Guardian speak to the family in hopes of deflecting Osama bin Laden’s legacy, viewed as a grave blight on the kingdom. Most of the family shares that view.

Senior officials believed that, by allowing the bin Ladens to tell their story, they could demonstrate that an outcast – not an agent – was responsible for 9/11, The Guardian said. Critics have long alleged that Osama bin Laden had state support. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.

Along with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., Osama bin Laden was accused of being the mastermind behind the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and was long on the FBI's "most wanted" list, according to History.com.

He was killed on May 1, 2011 when U.S. Navy SEALs raided his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Ghanem told The Guardian she never thought that her son had become a jihadist, wanting to focus on his younger years in the interview.

"It never crossed my mind," Ghanem told the newspaper. "We were extremely upset. I did not want any of this to happen. Why would he throw it all away like that?"

Bin Laden's half-brother Ahmad told The Guardian that a mother is "rarely an objective witness" and that she wants to believe the good in her son.

"It has been 17 years now (since 9/11) and she remains in denial about Osama," Ahmad told The Guardian. "She loved him so much and refuses to blame him. Instead, she blames those around him. She only knows the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side.

"… We knew from the beginning (that it was Osama), within the first 48 hours. From the youngest to the eldest, we all felt ashamed of him. We knew all of us were going to face horrible consequences. Our family abroad all came back to Saudi," Ahmad told The Guardian.

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Osama bin Laden’s mother, speaking out for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, said her son the al Qaeda terrorist leader simply lost his way after being "brainwashed" into a life of jihad.
osama bin laden, mother, alia ghanem, the guardian, interview
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2018-46-03
Friday, 03 August 2018 08:46 AM
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