WASHINGTON — The sons of Osama bin Laden broke their silence Tuesday, denouncing his “arbitrary killing” and saying the whole family felt demeaned and humiliated by the father’s burial at sea.
In a statement given to the New York Times, the sons asked why their father “was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that the truth is revealed to the people of the world.”
Bin Laden was killed by US forces on May 2 after being tracked down to a Pakistani compound where he is believed to have lived for years, despite a massive global hunt for the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The statement denouncing his father’s killing is said to have been prepared at the direction of his son, Omar bin Laden, 30, and also called for the Al-Qaeda leader’s three wives and children to be released.
“We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems,” the statement said, adding that “justice must be seen to be done.”
It also called into question “the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated.”
Pakistani officials have said three of bin Laden’s wives were recovered from the house in Abbottabad after the raid, all of them Yemeni or Saudi, and 13 of their children.
His Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, was shot in the leg during the US Navy SEALs operation in which her husband died.
Omar bin Laden, who the Times said was the son of bin Laden and another wife, Najwa bin Laden, condemned the shooting in the statement, which did not name any of his brothers.
“We want to remind the world that Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of our father, always disagreed with our father regarding any violence and always sent messages to our father, that he must change his ways and that no civilians should be attacked under any circumstances,” the statement said.
“Despite the difficulty of publicly disagreeing with our father, he never hesitated to condemn any violent attacks made by anyone, and expressed sorrow for the victims of any and all attacks.”
The statement was given to the New York Times by American author by Jean Sasson, who helped Omar bin Laden write a 2009 memoir, “Growing Up bin Laden.”
A shorter, slightly different statement was posted on a jihadist Web site Tuesday in which the sons said bin Laden’s burial at sea “demeaned and humiliated” his family.
“It is unacceptable — humanely and religiously — to dispose of a person with such importance and status among his people, by throwing his body into the sea in that way, which demeans and humiliates his family and his supporters and which challenges religious provisions and feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims,” the shorter statement, provided by the SITE monitoring group, said.
US President Barack Obama was “legally responsible” for “a criminal mission” which “obliterated an entire defenseless family … contrary to the most basic human sentiment, and they rushed to dispose of the body,” it added.
The United States has said it expects Pakistan will soon let it question the three widows. But the exact whereabouts of the bin Laden family has been unclear since the September 11, 2001 attacks.