May 10, 2011 — -- The sons of Osama bin Laden have issued a statement that accuses the U.S. of violating international law by killing an unarmed man and dumping his body in the ocean.
The statement, which was prepared by an attorney and attributed to Omar bin Laden and his siblings, notes that both Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein were tried in courts of law, and says Osama bin Laden was denied the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. It said the "assassination" of Osama bin Laden "blatantly violated" international law.
"We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems," says the statement. The message, which also asks the Pakistani government to release the bin Laden wives and children currently in custody, is titled "A Statement from the Sons of bin Laden," but it is only signed by Omar. It also says bin Laden's sons do not believe President Obama's account of the operation that killed their father and would be following up with both U.S. and international courts.
"We ... demand an inquiry," says the statement, "[into] the accuracy of the facts as stated by the United States into the fundamental question of why our father was not arrested and tried but summarily executed."
Two versions of the statement have been issued, including a shorter version posted on the Arabic language website mafa.asia. Though the statement says it is from Omar and "my brothers, the lawful children and heirs of Osama bin Laden," it is signed by Omar alone.
Last week, after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, his son Khalid and three other people, Attorney General Eric Holder stressed that the mission was legal. "Let me make something very clear," said Holder. "The operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful. He was the head of al Qaeda, an organization that conducted the attacks of September the 11th. He admitted his involvement."
Omar bin Laden, 30, has not lived with his father since 1999, when he and his mother, Najwa bin Laden, left him in Afghanistan. Omar has denounced violence, and the message includes a reminder that Omar had made clear to Osama that he "always disagreed with [him] regarding any violence."
"As [Omar] condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed women and children."
In an additional personal statement, dictated to Jean Sasson, who helped him write his 2009 memoir "Growing up bin Laden," Omar bin Laden expressed the "sincere upset" that his family is experiencing at the news of Osama's death.
"As a young Islamic child," said the statement, "[Omar] and his siblings had to obey and follow their father's instructions, irrespective of how this affected them personally. This included several upheavals and re-locations, into environments that caused Omar, his mother and siblings great upset and danger."
"As with all young people, the coming of age and the entering of adulthood is marked by the individual making life's decisions for themselves. Omar's first two decisions on becoming an adult, were firstly, that the course of action his father was taking was not correct for him, irrespective of what his father's wishes were. Secondly he asked his father for permission, for not just his own departure but also that of his mother and younger siblings from his father's life."
Omar bin Laden underlines that he is also upset at the course of action that his father and his father's followers chose, "because of the untold grief that such action has had on the famlies of both sides since this action started."
Omar Bin Laden in 2010: After Bin Laden, It'll Be 'Much, Much Worse'
In his book, Omar describes himself as a romantic during his coming of age in the wilds of Tora Bora, Afghanistan. He dreamed of following his older brother Abdullah's example, marrying a Bin Laden cousin and living in the quiet comfort his father left behind in Saudi Arabia.
"I spent hours thinking about a certain cousin, a pretty and sweet girl…imagining us falling in love, getting married, and living in a lovely home filled with sweet-faced children," he wrote, tuning a small radio to hear the love songs of Um Kulthum as part of a "desperate need to create a new life."
When he was interviewed by ABC News in early 2010, Omar had a chilling warning for those who were hunting his father.
He said that if his father were killed, the worst might lie ahead. America might face a broader and more violent enemy, with nothing to keep them in check.
"From what I knew of my father and the people around him I believe he is the most kind among them, because some are much, much worse," said bin Laden. "Their mentality wants to make more violence, to create more problems."
Omar turned his back on his father's philosophy even though his father had picked him to succeed him as the leader of jihad.
"Attacking peaceful people is not being fair, it is unacceptable," bin Laden told ABC News. "If you have a problem with armies or governments you should fight those people. This is what I find unacceptable in my father's way."
But bin Laden was confident at the time that despite the $25 million bounty on his father's head, his father wouldn't be caught.
"It's been 30 years now since he started fighting there," said Omar. "Who could catch him? No one."