Bin Laden's Son: Worst Is Yet to Come

Omar bin Laden warns that his father's death may unleash more violent enemies.

May 2, 2011, 11:29 AM

May 2, 2011 — -- ABC News' Lara Setrakian interviewed Osama bin Laden's son Omar bin Laden in early 2010 to discuss his book "Growing Up Bin Laden." Below are his thoughts on his father's life, what it was like to grow up the son of world's most wanted man, and a dire warning to the world about what might happen in the event that his father was killed:

Osama bin Laden's son had a chilling warning for those who were hunting his father with drones, secret agents and missile strikes.

From Omar bin Laden's up-close look at the next generation of mujahideen and al Qaeda training camps he says the worst may lie ahead, that if his father is killed America may 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," Omar bin Laden, who was raised in the midst of his father's fighters, told ABC News in an exclusive interview in February 2010. "Their mentality wants to make more violence, to create more problems."

Omar bin Laden turned his back on his father's philosophy, a remarkable step for a man in an Arab culture where it is a sin to disobey his father and taboo to openly criticize him. It was doubly significant for Omar bin Laden because his father had picked him to succeed him as the leader of jihad.

Omar bin Laden spoke out shortly after hearing his father in an audio tape praise the attempt by the so-called "underwear bomber" to blow up a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009:

"Attacking peaceful people is not being fair, it is unacceptable. 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," Omar told ABC News.

"My father should find some letter to send to all of these people, at least to tell them they shouldn't attack the civilians," he said.

When asked whether there is anything his father likes about the United States, Omar says "their weapons," and nothing else.

The son of Osama, however, had praise for the U.S. saying, "They don't care what is your race, what is your skin, where you come from, this is very good."

Despite the $25 million bounty on his father's head and the ever-searching drones, Omar was confident that his father would not be caught and that no Afghan would turn him in:

"It's been 30 years now since he started fighting there. Who could catch him? No one.... This is the country that whoever gets in is stuck, be it the armies or the mujahideen," he said.

Omar told ABC News that as of February 2010, even he did not know where his father was.

Osama Bin Laden Urged His Sons to Be Suicide Bombers

Osama bin Laden raised his family of five wives (plus one marriage that was annulled) and more than a dozen children in a way meant to make them tough and ready for the rigors of war. He shunned air conditioning and refrigerators in the desert heat, banned toys and the kind of laughter that showed too many teeth, refused to wince when his men used Omar's puppies as the victims in chemical weapons tests. He would cane his children for the slightest misbehavior, at times hitting them so hard the stick would break.

"He didn't treat us differently than any of his followers. He just expected us to act like everyone else, because he was the leader," said Omar. He and his brothers were given weapons training. In a breaking point between them, Osama encouraged them to sign up for suicide missions, volunteering to blow themselves up.

"We were shocked. Why would our father say something like this to us? After he went away we just talked about it and said this was never going to happen, this was not our way." Omar found the rare and substantial nerve it took to talk back.

"I objected, and said why did you do this? What is the point? He didn't respond. We were not more important than his big goal...and nothing would stop him from this."

Omar shrugged off the notion that his father had a cruel streak. He saw the spartan treatment as part of Osama's worldview. In his book "Growing Up Bin Laden," Omar noted the change in his father when he lands back in Afghanistan amid the violence of war and begins a rugged trip to a complex of barren caves in the Tora Bora mountains.

"I looked at my father. He did not seem to mind the trying conditions, but seemed exhilarated by them," Omar wrote. He added with a grudging admiration, "No matter what, my father was a tough man."

In Omar's book, his father became infuriated with the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, arriving to protect against an attack by Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War. (Omar says his father disliked the secular Saddam, and that there was "no contact, no connection" between the men.)

In August 1996 Bin Laden declared war on America from his Afghan cave, citing the fact that U.S. forces were still in the Persian Gulf.

His father's pitch to the incoming mujahideen was different, focused on Arab discontent over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue with broader appeal. They came in droves, a new generation of men seeking jihad, or holy war, against the infidels of the West.

Omar described how during meetings of mujahideen in Kandahar, leaders would play videos of perceived Israeli atrocities, the demolition of homes and the killing of civilians. Men would leave the meeting raging to fight. Between Israel and America, Osama saw America as an easier target.

"He thinks America is weaker than Israel. America is easier to get attacked, with its huge cities," Omar said. "He sees America is the main power, but in fact is weak in certain ways."

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