Son rejects bin Laden’s violence, but Spain denies him asylum


Madrid : Omar bin Laden, son of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Thursday distanced himself from his father’s violence while appealing against Spain’s decision not to grant him political asylum.

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Omar bin Laden was a “man of peace” who rejected his father’s “activities”, bin Laden, 28, and his British wife Zaina al-Sabah, 52, said in a communiqué issued in Madrid.

It was “unfair” for Spain to deny bin Laden asylum because of his family name, the couple complained.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, however, said Spain intended to reject bin Laden’s appeal.

Bin Laden and al-Sabah arrived Monday on a flight from Cairo to Casablanca in Morocco, when it made a stopover in Madrid.

Bin Laden immediately requested asylum on the grounds that he did not feel safe in Saudi Arabia, which he is a citizen of, or in Egypt, where he lives, or in any other Arab country.

The government rejected the request partly on the basis of a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR saw no evidence that bin Laden’s life was in danger in Saudi Arabia, according to the daily El Pais.

Omar, who is one of Osama bin Laden’s 19 children, was “only a child when he lived with his father in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan,” the communiqué said.

Omar later understood his father’s “activities” and “realized that they disagreed on many important points,” it explained.

Admitting that Omar had been accused of ambiguity in commenting on his father, the communiqué pointed out that Muslim culture “prohibits children from criticizing their parents”.

The couple denied allegations that they were seeking publicity for an eventual book or movie.

Omar bin Laden was “depressed and very worried” about the couple’s security, but would persist in attempts to obtain asylum in Spain, al-Sabah, formerly known as Jane Felix-Browne, said.

In April, Britain denied a visa to bin Laden, saying his presence would create public concern.

Omar bin Laden is the fourth of Osama bin Laden’s 11 children by his first wife. He has said he left his father before the attacks of Sep 11, 2001 in the United States.

Omar bin Laden later worked as a metal trader in Saudi Arabia. He met al-Sabah in Egypt in 2006.