Slain Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden urged his children to go live peacefully in the West and get a university education, his brother-in-law said in an interview published Sunday.
Zakaria al-Sadah, the brother of bin Laden’s Yemeni fifth wife Amal, told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that the Saudi-born extremist believed his children “should not follow him down the road to jihad.”
“He told his own children and grandchildren, ‘Go to Europe and America and get a good education,'” al-Sadah told the Sunday Times.
Al-Sadah said bin Laden told them: “You have to study, live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”
Bin Laden was killed in a commando raid in May 2011 by US Navy SEALS at a house in the garrison town of Abbottabad, northwest Pakistan, where he had been living for several years.
Al-Sadah said that in November he had seen his sister for the first time since she was shot in the knee during the raid, and had since been allowed to have a number of meetings with her in the presence of guards.
He said the three wives and nine children who were in the compound — some are bin Laden’s children and others are his grandchildren — have been held for months in a three-room flat in Islamabad.
They are guarded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, he said.
The Sunday Times published what it said was the first photograph to show some of the young children from the compound: two sons and a daughter, and two grandsons and a granddaughter.
The children were still traumatised after seeing the raid in which bin Laden died, al-Sadah said.
“These children have seen their father killed and they need a caring environment, not a prison — whatever you think of their father and what he has done,” he said.
A Pakistani commission investigating the raid said in October that it had lifted travel restrictions on Bin Laden’s family and al-Sadah flew to Islamabad in November to take Amal and her children home.
But he said Pakistani officials had refused to let him take them.
There was no immediate response to the claims from Pakistani officials.