Osama Bin Laden’s mother says her son was ‘brainwashed’ at university

In a wide ranging interview, Alia Ghanem who is in her mid-70s now said her son, Osama Bin Laden, was not to blame but that he was “brainwashed” by extremists while attending university in Saudi city Jeddah. “Everyone who met him in the early days respected him. At the start, we were very proud of him. Even the Saudi government would treat him in very noble, respectful way. And then came Osama the mujahid.” “The people at university changed him,” she said.

“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.” Bin Laden studied economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

His half-brothers Hassan and Ahmad who share a mansion with their mother in Jeddah were also interviewed for the piece after they were given permission from the Saudi government who keep a close watch over the family. Ahmad admits Osama’s mother’s views are biased. “It has been 17 years now [since 9/11] and she remains in denial about Osama. She loved him so much and refused to blame him. “Instead, she blames those around him. She only the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side.”

His half-brother Hassan says he was “shocked, stunned” by the events that occurred in September 2001 which led George Bush to declare a war on terror. “It was a very strange feeling. We knew from the beginning [that it was Osama], within the first 48 hours. From the youngest to the eldest, we all felt ashamed of him,” said Hassan. “We knew all of us were going to face horrible consequences. Our family abroad all came back to Saudi.”

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