Bin Laden’s son calls on Khamenei to free siblings

16 Mar 2010

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One of Osama Bin Laden’s sons has called on Iran’s supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei to release members of his family believed to be under house arrest there since they fled Afghanistan in 2001, according to a letter posted Monday on the Internet. Khalid Bin Laden accused Iranian authorities of mistreating about 30 siblings, saying they had been “beaten and repressed.”
The letter, which was dated early January, appeared to have been written shortly after news reports surfaced about of one his sisters who escaped from her Iranian guards and reportedly is taking refuge in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The letter was addressed to Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khalid bin Laden insisted his relatives were in Tehran and expressed surprise at denial of Iranian officials of knowledge of their presence. It has long been believed that Iran holds in custody some of Bin Laden’s children who fled Afghanistan in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S., most notably his sons, Saad and Hamza, who were thought to have held positions in Al-Qaeda. Iranian officials have said they knew Bin Laden’s daughter was at the Saudi Embassy but denied knowledge of how she got to Iran or when. Tehran also has never confirmed it was holding other members of the Bin Laden family.
Little is known about Khalid Bin Laden, who is said to be in his 20s and believed to have been with his father in Afghanistan until 2001. The letter identified him as Sheikh Khalid, a reference to a holder of an esteemed religious position. He said his family members, mostly women and children, were forced to flee to Iran “informally” from Afghanistan because of the U.S. airstrikes in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks, and were detained by local authorities within a year.
“We learned of it and we communicated with the Tehran government many times,” he wrote. “We asked scholars and dignitaries to mediate their release promising they won’t return to Iran. But to no avail.”
Another Bin Laden son, Omar, told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in December that the family had not been certain about the fate of the siblings who fled through Iran until Eman provided the information after her escape.

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