Osama Bin Laden's mother says her son was 'brainwashed' at university
The mother of Osama Bin Laden has said her son who was responsible for the 9/11 attack in New York was a “good child” until he was brainwashed at university.
Bin Laden was responsible for ordering the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 which took the lives of almost 3,000 people including tourists and members of emergency crews.
Another 6,000 people were injured in the attacks which seen two passenger planes hijacked and flown into the towers in lower Manhattan.
In a wide ranging interview with the Guardian, Alia Ghanem who is in her mid-70s now said her son was not to blame but that he was “brainwashed” by extremists while attending university in Saudi city Jeddah.
“Everyone who met him in the early days respected him. At the start, we were very proud of him. Even the Saudi government would treat him in very noble, respectful way. And then came Osama the mujahid.”
“The people at university changed him,” she said.
“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.
“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.”
“It never crossed my mind,” she said of his radicalisation.
“We were extremely upset. I did not want any of this to happen. Why would he throw it all away like that?”
Bin Laden studied economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. Later he regularly got involved with fighting Russian occupation in Afghanistan, something he was commended and respected for by Saudi people.
His half-brothers Hassan and Ahmad who share a mansion with their mother in Jeddah were also interviewed for the piece after they were given permission from the Saudi government who keep a close watch over the family.
Ahmad admits Osama’s mother’s views are biased.
“It has been 17 years now [since 9/11] and she remains in denial about Osama. She loved him so much and refused to blame him.
“Instead, she blames those around him. She only the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side.”
His half-brother Hassan says he was “shocked, stunned” by the events that occurred in September 2001 which led George Bush to declare a war on terror.
“It was a very strange feeling. 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,” said Hassan.
“We knew all of us were going to face horrible consequences. Our family abroad all came back to Saudi.”
The family say they last saw him at his base in Afghanistan in 1999, two years before the deadly attack.
In May 2011 under Obama’s watch and after decade long search, Bin Laden was captured and killed by the US military at a base in Abbottabad Pakistan.
His youngest son, Hamza has been branded a ‘global terrorist’ by the US after pledging to avenge his father’s killing.
Then the next thing I knew, Hamza was saying, ‘I am going to avenge my father’, I don’t want to go through that again,” said Hassam, who is Hamza’s uncle.
“We thought everyone was over this,” he says.
“I would tell him ‘God guide you. Think twice about what you are doing. Don’t retake the steps of your father. You are entering horrible parts of your soul.”