My son was radicalised in university – Osama bin Laden’s mother

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Alia Ghanem, the mother of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 deadly attack on the United States, has spoken about her son, saying he was a shy boy who was radicalised in the university.

Over 3,000 people died in the terror attack which has been described as the deadliest in human history.

Osama was later killed by the US military in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, approximately 10 years after the attack.

Ghanen said she always told her son, who was the founder of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation, to stay away from bad gangs but that he never admitted his activities to her because he (Osama) loved her so much.

The woman, who is in her mid-70s, told Guardian UK that she was “extremely upset” when she found out, because it never crossed her mind he could become a jihadist.

She said the family saw him last, two years before the 9/11 attack took place.

“We were extremely upset. I did not want any of this to happen. Why would he throw it all away like that?” She said.

In the historic 9/11 attack, 19 militants associated with the al-Qaeda terrorist group hijacked four passenger airplanes and flew two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, another plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, DC, while the fourth plane crashed on a field in Pennsylvania.

Ghanem said, “He was academically capable. He became a strong, driven, pious figure in his early 20s while studying Economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, where he was also radicalised.

“The people at (the) university changed him. He became a different man. One of the men he met there was Abdullah Azzam, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was later exiled from Saudi Arabia and became Osama’s spiritual adviser. 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. They got money for their cause. 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.”

One of his younger brothers, Hassan, said the family was initially proud of him when he travelled to Afghanistan to fight the Russian occupation, but that things later changed.

He said, “I’m very proud of him being 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.”

Another brother of the late terrorist, Ahmad, also said their mother remained in denial about him (Osama) even after 17 years because she loved him so much.

“She only knows the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side,” he added.

He said the family knew within 48 hours after the attack that he was the one responsible for the attack. “From the youngest to the eldest, we all felt ashamed of him; we knew all of us were going to face horrible consequences,” he added.

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