Osama's mother breaks silence for the first time, traces her son’s path to radicalization

Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden’s mother Alia Ghanem has spoken for the first time about her son's transformation from being a "good kid" into one of the most the infamous men in the world.

Osama Bin Laden's mother Alia Ghanem breaks silence, traces her son’s path to radicalization
Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden. Photo: AP (File)
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 03 Aug 2018 06:00 PM
NEW DELHI: Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden’s mother Alia Ghanem has spoken for the first time about her son's transformation from being a "good kid" into one of the most the infamous men in the world.

In an interview to the Guardian, she recalled Osama as an academically capable shy boy who became a strong, driven pious figure in his early 20s while studying at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, where he was radicalized.


“The people at university changed him,” she said. “He became a different man.”

Ghanem claimed while studying, Osama met some people who brainwashed him and he changed his ways.

“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," she added.

Even when he fled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Russian occupation, the family remained proud of him.

“At the start, we were very proud of him. Even the Saudi government would treat him in a very noble, respectful way. And then came Osama the mujahid,” Hassan, Osama's brother said.

Ghanem said it “never crossed my mind” that Osama, who "liked to study" and was "very good" at school, would become a jihadist.

When asked about how the family felt after it realised that Osama chose the path of destruction, she said: “We were extremely upset. I did not want any of this to happen. Why would he throw it all away like that.”

The last time the family saw Osama was in Afghanistan in 1999, a year in which they visited him twice at his base outside Kandahar.

"It was a place near the airport that they had captured from the Russians,” Ghanem said.

However, Osama’s half-brother Ahmad said that their mother still remains in denial as she still loved her son.

"Instead, she blames those around him. She only knows the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side," Ahmad told the Guardian.

Ahmad said the family knew within the “48 hours” that Osama was behind the Twin Towers attacks on September 11, 2001, which left over 3,000 dead.

"From the youngest to the eldest, we all felt ashamed of him. We knew all of us were going to face horrible consequences. Our family abroad all came back to Saudi," he said.

The Al Qaeda leader was killed in the May 2, 2011, Abbottabad raid by US Navy SEALs after nearly 10 years in hiding following the September 2001 attacks.

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