Iran Confirms Bin Laden's Daughter Is At Saudi Embassy
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 25.12.2009 16:03
Iran has confirmed that a daughter of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has recently turned up at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran seeking permission to leave the country.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told Iranian television the Saudi Embassy informed Iranian authorities “some time ago that one of Bin Laden’s daughters is at the embassy in Tehran.”
“We do not know how the individual they referred to as Bin Laden's daughter entered the Saudi Embassy and Iran in the first place," Mottaki said. "The Foreign Ministry has taken measures as per the Saudi Embassy's request and informed the foreign nationals' office accordingly."
“Her real identity is not yet clear to us,” Mottaki said. “Upon determination of her real identity she will be able to leave Iran with proper permits.”
Earlier this week, Saudi and British media reported that some of Bin Laden’s family members, including one of his wives, several of his children, and 11 of his grandchildren, were living in a secret compound outside Tehran.
According to media reports, his 17-year-old daughter Eman managed to elude guards during a rare trip outside the compound and made her way to the Saudi Embassy.
He did not mention the other members of Bin Laden family allegedly living in Iran.
Bin Laden, who is believed to have several wives and 19 children, reportedly took at least one of his wives and several children with him when he went to Afghanistan in the late 1990s.
The family was believed to have been in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
A ‘Normal’ Life
One of Bin Laden’s sons, 29-year-old Omar, who lives in Qatar, told media he did not know whether his brothers and sisters were alive until they called him in November.
Omar said family members have told him they fled from Afghanistan shortly before September 11 attacks and came to the Iranian border.
The family, including Bin Laden’s sons Mohammad, Hamza, Othman, and Bakr and his daughter Fatima, have been living in Iran for the past eight years.
Omar said they have been living as normal a life as possible, cooking meals, watching television, and reading.
Apart from rare shopping trips, the family was not allowed to leave the walled compound “for their own safety.”
Omar expressed his gratitude to Iran for keeping his relatives safe.
“The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe,” Omar told media. “For that we owe them much gratitude, and thank Iran from the depth of our hearts.”
Omar said he hopes his relatives will be given permission to leave Iran and join the rest of the family in Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Qatar.
Bin Laden’s father Mohammad, who died in 1967, was the founder of a multimillion dollar construction company, the Binladen Group.
Bin Laden has more than 50 siblings and his extended family is one of the wealthiest clans in Saudi Arabia.
Bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 because of his militant activities and shortly after, he was disowned by the family.
Compiled from agency reports.
Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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