Mumbai/Jeddah: In a first, the mother of Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, recently opened up about various aspects of the global terrorist leader's life.
In an interview with The Guardian, Alia Ghanem, Laden's mother, described him as a "good son" who was "brainwashed" by fundamentalists.
Ghanem, who is in her mid-70s, lives with her family in a palatial mansion in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah. The family still remains one of the most influential families in the region.
They were allowed to speak to the British daily newspaper only after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to the request. The move was seen as "allowing the Bin Laden's to tell their story" and also to help "demonstrate that an outcast – not an agent – was responsible for 9/11".
Speaking about Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Ghanem recalls that when she learned about her son's business, she was "extremely upset."
“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. 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 told The Guardian.
She also mentioned the people who were behind this and said Bin Laden was radicalised at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
His half-brother, too, is aware of the fact that the family knew about Osama's terrorist activities early on as well as his role in the 9/11 attacks.
On Laden's rise to terrorism, his brother Ahmad said, "I am very proud of him in the sense that he was my oldest brother. But I don’t think I’m very proud of him as a man. He reached superstardom on a global stage, and it was all for nothing.”
The family also revealed that Osama’s s youngest son Hamza, 29, has been designated as a global terrorist and is believed to be in Afghanistan. He has sworn to avenge his father's death who was killed by a US special operations team in 2011.
However, his uncle Hassan said that he would urge Hamza to not follow in his father's footsteps. Hassan said his advice to Hamza would be to "think twice about what he was doing and to not retake the steps of his father. Adding that, "he will enter horrible parts of his soul”.