Usama Bin Laden’s Son Is Investigated at Egypt Airport
Saturday , November 08, 2008
The son of al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden is being investigated at the Cairo airport on Saturday after his application for asylum in Spain was rejected, said an airport security official.
Spain rejected Omar Osama bin Laden’s application for asylum saying it did not meet its requirements and sent him back to Egypt where he and his wife have lived for the past year.
The Egyptian airport official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said a decision had not yet been made to allow them in the country.
Zaina Alsabah, the younger bin Laden’s 52-year-old British wife, told the Associated Press by phone that the couple had applied for asylum in Spain because their residency permits in Cairo were not renewed and they had been threatened.
“We knew we weren’t safe, if we stayed (in Egypt) we would be imprisoned,” she said. “Our lives are in danger, we’ve been threatened already. We’ve been threatened by two princes in the Bin Laden family.”
The Bin Ladens are an influential construction family in Saudi Arabia. Alsabah has appealed to Saudi King Abdullah to protect them.
“We believe that the king could help us and the king could give us protection,” she said.
The younger bin Laden, 27, flew to Spain on Monday with his wife and asked for asylum, spending a week in a transit area at Madrid’s Barajas Airport while his case was considered.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba confirmed that bin Laden’s son had been deported, saying his application for asylum did not meet any Spanish requirements. The Interior Ministry denied his bid on Wednesday, and turned back the appeal Friday night.
The government says it usually seeks a recommendation from the U.N. refugee agency in asylum request cases, and that the agency had also recommended against asylum.
Omar Osama bin Laden â€” one of the al-Qaida leader’s 19 children â€” caused a tabloid storm last year after marrying a British woman, a 52-year-old who changed her name to Zaina Alsabah.
The couple have been living in Cairo. The younger bin Laden has not renounced his father, but has said he wants to be an “ambassador for peace” between the Muslim world and the West.
Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding in the Pakistan-Afghan border region.
The younger bin Laden moved to Afghanistan with his father in 1996 after living with him in Sudan, and trained at an al-Qaida camp. But Omar has said he has not seen his father since he left Afghanistan in 2000 and returned to his homeland of Saudi Arabia.
Update from Gates of Vienna
Egyptian police said on Sunday they did not interrogate Omar bin Laden, one of the five sons of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, on his arrival at the Cairo International Airport, an Egyptian security source said.
“Omar bin Laden was not prevented from entering the country and was not questioned by the Egyptian Police,” Cairo International Airport Security Chief Mohsen Fahham told AlArabiya.net.
“If he wants to return back to Egypt, he is welcomed. He decided to leave directly to Qatar after returning from a failed bid for political asylum in Spain,” Fahham said, noting out that it was up to Omar to remain in Egypt or leave it.
However, his English-born wife told AFP that they were deported from Egypt after returning from a failed bid for political asylum in Spain.
“ We pray that some country in the world will be merciful and allow Omar a place to live in peace “
Statement by the bin Ladens
Spain on Saturday turned down the 27-year-old bin Laden’s request for political asylum after he said his life was in danger in the Middle East because he is a pacifist.
“The Spanish government said that Omar was safe in Egypt and so had a place to go, but when we arrived in Egypt they deported us,” his wife Zaina Alsabah bin Laden said by telephone from a passenger plane at Cairo airport.
She declined to say where they were heading as it might jeopardize their chances of being able to clear immigration at their destination.
“We’re not feeling very good, seeing that everything we have is in Egypt and we can’t get anything, can’t get (credit) cards, we just have cash.”
However, an airport official said the couple was heading for Qatar.
Omar, one of the children of the fugitive founder of the al-Qaeda terror network, had appealed against Spain’s refusal on Wednesday to grant him asylum after arriving in Madrid from Cairo.
But the Spanish authorities deemed that his security was not in danger and he returned late on Saturday to Cairo, where the couple met and have been living for several months.
“The directive that Spain gave was illegal because they said we would be accepted in Egypt,” Zaina said.
Zaina on Saturday condemned what she said had been a “political decision,” adding that the couple had been trying to raise money to fly to New Zealand instead of returning to Egypt.
“We pray that some country in the world will be merciful and allow Omar a place to live in peace,” the bin Ladens said in a statement issued while they were in Spain.
“Omar is an innocent young man who has never participated in a single violent act. His only desire is to live the rest of his life in peace.”
Spain’s interior ministry said Wednesday’s decision to turn down the asylum claim was in line with the opinion of the U.N. refugee agency.
“Our reasons for leaving Egypt and coming to Spain had nothing to do with any actions of the Egyptian government,” the couple said.
“We are most grateful to the Egyptian government and the lovely Egyptian people. They graciously showed us every kindness, more than any country in the world, in fact. There were outsiders working within Egypt which created genuine concern for Omar’s safety. That is the only reason we left Egypt.”
Omar bin Laden, who has a Saudi passport, is the fourth child from Osama bin Laden’s first marriage. His wife, 52, whom he married in 2007, is British, having changed her name from Jane Felix-Browne.
Omar trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan from age 14, but by 2000 became disillusioned with the Taliban’s fight, according to an interview on earlier this year on CNN, and left with the blessing of his father. But he said he did not know where his father was and did not think his father was a terrorist.
Omar said in the statement that he has not spoken to his father since 2000.
The couple, who met while horse riding, set up the “Al-Mirage” horse ranch just outside Cairo this spring and had planned to make a business out of arranging horse and camel back desert safaris from the ranch, which lies in the shadow of some of Egypt’s lesser-known pyramids.
Zaina said on Sunday that she hoped they would be able to go to Britain in early 2009. In April Omar was denied entry to the United Kingdom, where his wife’s children live, over fears his presence would cause “considerable public concern.”