Four sons of Osama bin Laden, thought to be the 3 eldest, as well as the named Omar bin Laden, have published a statement on their father's death in the New York Times. They released the statement with the help of Jean Sasson, an American writer and the woman who helped Omar bin Laden and his mother Najwah bin Laden write a memoir Growing Up Bin Laden (2009), an accounting of their life with Osama bin Laden to 1999, and Omar's wish to dissociate himself from the violent means being used by his father, at the same time protecting his mother and younger siblings from an increasingly hardship filled life. At that time Osama bin Laden granted them the right to leave. Omar has also spoken out publicly and clearly on many occasions, against the violent means used by his father, while maintaining his loyalty and respect for him as a father.
The statement reads much the same way. It specifically denies support for the extreme beliefs and violent means used by Osama bin Laden, but asks for the respect that should be accorded to him by international justice systems, and hence an investigation into his execution and that of others who were unarmed. It also asks that the women and children who had been living with him, (his wives, his children, and perhaps others under his protection) been returned to the family, that is to the protection and care of his eldest sons, as is customary.
The statement begins with a request for proof that their father was killed, and ends with at time limit of 30 days for satisfactory responses otherwise further legal action would be taken. These are standard openings and closings for legal statements, which are predicated on proofs before a grievance becomes actionable, and then sets time lines and consequences. In between, the sons address the issue of the burial or disposal at sea of Osama bin Laden's body, as opposed to returning it to the family for proper Muslim rites and burial.
While I don't condone Osama bin Laden's belief system or actions, I admire that his sons have released a statement that is respectful of their father and their culture, even as they distance themselves from his political beliefs and behaviours. The statement is in full accordance with norms of Western and international law, yet seeks to accomplish the usual Muslim customs around burial and custody of dependents. Indeed, as regards custody of minors and support for dependent wives, these norms are universal.
I admire the statement in the same way as I admire the stance of other children of "rogues". The children of General Mohamed Oufkir, Morocco's lead henchman during Hassan II's "Years of Lead", have never denounced their father for his professional actions. They have written books, and Malika's have been translated into English. The first, La prisonnière, translated as Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail was an Oprah's Book Club Selection, and earned her a place of honour on Oprah's couch. She maintains that she is unaware of and doesn't believe the cruelties for which her father is widely held responsible. The oldest son, Raouf, has written his own accounting of the punishment meted out by Hassan II to the General's wife and children (including the 2 year old), but maintains his father's innocence of a lifetime of crimes including 2 attempted coups d'état (the General "committed suicide while in custody" after the last one).
Raouf Oufkir is also engaged in media and legal battles with Béchir Ben Barka the son of one of his father's victims, Mehdi ben Barka--"Morocco's Che Guevara", and an activist for international revolutions of decolonization. Béchir is now a lawyer leading the way to find the truth of his disappearance off the streets of Paris. Implicated among others are: the French police, the French secret service, the Moroccan secret service, the CIA, Mossad, General Oufkir, and Driss Basri (last Minister of the Interior under Hassan II). Béchir's efforts on behalf of his father are also admirable.
Below is the statement from the sons of Osama bin Laden, as published in the New York Times (I have done no copy editing).
Statement From the Family of Osama bin Laden
Published: May 10, 2011
Statement from the family of Sheikh Osama bin Laden
I Omar Ossama Binladin and my brothers the lawful children and heirs of the Ossama Binladin (OBL) have noted wide coverage of the news of the death of our father, but we are not convinced on the available evidence in the absence of dead body, photographs, and video evidence that our natural father is dead. Therefore, with this press statement, we seek such conclusive evidence to believe the stories published in relation to 2 May 2011 operation Geronimo as declared by the President of United States Barrack Hussein Obama in his speech that he authorized the said operation and killing of OBL and later confirmed his death.
If OBL has been killed in that operation as President of United States has claimed then we are just in questioning as per media reports that why an unarmed man was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world. If he has been summarily executed then, we question the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated but USA has set a very different example whereby right to have a fair trial, and presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a court of law has been sacrificed on which western society is built and is standing when a trial of OBLSadam Hussein and Serbian President Slobodan Miloševic'. We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems and crime's adjudication as Justice must be seen to be done.
It is also unworthy of the special forces to shoot unarmed female family members of Binladen killing a female and that of one of his son.
Most importantly, when it is a common knowledge that OBL's family is residing at one place outside KSA, why they were not contacted to receive his dead body. His sudden and un witnessed burial at sea has deprived the family of performing religious rights of a Muslim man.
Finally, now that the operation is concluded we wish the Government of Pakistan to release and hand over all minors of the family and all the family members are reunited at one place and are repatriated to their country of origin, especially female members of the family to avoid further oppression and we seek international support to that effect.
Without agreeing to the ways of OBL as to how he professed, believed and operated, We Omar Ossama Binladin, and my brothers, the lawful children of the Ossama Binladin (OBL) herewith demand an inquiry under UNO to reach to the accuracy of the facts as stated by United States into the fundamental question as to why our father was not arrested and tried but summarily executed without a court of law. We are putting these questions to the United Nations, OIC, President of United States that a necessary evidence is presented to the family in private and or public to make us believe what they claim, and all the remaining family members are repatriated and united after necessary initial investigation.
In making this statement, we want to remind the world that Omar Ossam Binladin, 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. 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. As he condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women.
Failure to answer these questions will force us to go to International forum for justice such as International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice and UN must take notice of the violation of international law and assist us to have answers for which we are lawful in seeking them. A panel of eminent British and international lawyers is being constituted and a necessary action may be taken if no answers are furnished within 30 days of this statement.
Your comments, thoughts, impressions?
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