Osama bin Laden’s sons think U.S. broke international law


Omar bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, in his apartment in Al-Rahad city near Cairo in 2008

The New York Times reported today:

The adult sons of Osama bin Laden have lashed out at President Obama over their father’s death, accusing the United States of violating its basic legal principles by killing an unarmed man, shooting his family members and disposing of his body in the sea.

The statement said the family was asking why the leader of Al Qaeda “was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world.” Citing the trials of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, the statement questioned “the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated,” but the principles of presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial were ignored.

“We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems,” the statement said, adding that “justice must be seen to be done.”

The statement, prepared at the direction of Omar bin Laden, a son who had publicly denounced his father’s terrorism, was provided to The New York Times by Jean Sasson, an American author who helped the younger Bin Laden write a 2009 memoir, “Growing Up bin Laden.” A shorter, slightly different statement was posted on a jihadist Web site Tuesday.

Omar bin Laden, 30, lived with his father in Afghanistan until 1999, when he left with his mother, Najwa bin Laden, who co-wrote the memoir. In the book and other public statements, the younger bin Laden denounced violence of all kinds, a stance he repeated in the sons’ statement to The Times. None of Osama bin Laden’s sons other than Omar was named in the statement, so it was unclear exactly who else had approved the message.

“We want to remind the world that Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of our father, always disagreed with our father regarding any violence and always sent messages to our father, that he must change his ways and that no civilians should be attacked under any circumstances,” the statement said. “Despite the difficulty of publicly disagreeing with our father, he never hesitated to condemn any violent attacks made by anyone, and expressed sorrow for the victims of any and all attacks.”

Condemning the shooting of one of the Qaeda leader’s wives during the assault on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the statement added: “As he condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women.”

The sons’ statement called on the government of Pakistan to hand over to family members the three wives and several children of the terrorist now believed to be in Pakistani custody and asked for a United Nations investigation of the circumstances of their father’s death.

In addition to the statement, Ms. Sasson shared with The Times notes on what Omar bin Laden, who declined to be interviewed directly, has told her by phone in recent days. The notes describe Mr. bin Laden’s struggle, as he came of age, to understand and eventually reject his father’s embrace of religious violence.

Mr. bin Laden told Ms. Sasson the death of his father “has affected this family in much the same way as many other families in the past in the loss of a family member.”

Osama bin Laden

As the U.S. fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bin Laden periodically released audio and video recordings (like this one, from 2007) calling for the destruction of America and its allies.

Osama bin Laden
Naseer Ahmed / Reuters

The End
On May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden had been tracked to a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by a team of Navy Seals. Here, men in Quetta, Pakistan, watch Obama deliver to the world the news of the terrorist leader’s death.

Read more:
President Obama Monitors the bin Laden Mission
Pete Souza / The White House
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