Tehran, Dec. 23 (ANI): A son of Osama bin Laden has revealed that several missing members of Al Qaeda leader's family are living in a secret compound in Iran.
Osama bin Laden's closest relatives include one of his wives, six of his children and 11 of his grandchildren, who have been prevented from contacting the outside world while Iran has repeatedly denied that any of the relatives were living in the country.
Omar Ossama bin Laden, 29, Osama's fourth-eldest son, said he had no idea that his brothers and sisters were still alive until they called him in November.
"The Iranian Government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe. For that we owe them much gratitude, and thank Iran from the depth of our heart," The Times quoted him, as saying.
The eldest of the children, Saad, was 20 at the time, Ossman 17, Muhammad 15, Fatma 14, Hamza 12, Iman 9, and Bakr, 7.
There had been speculation that Muhammad was second in command of al-Qaeda and that Saad also instigated and plotted terrorist attacks until he was killed about 18 months ago by an American drone.
Osama's relatives, however, said that Muhammad is still living in the compound and that Saad ran away less than a year ago in an attempt to find his mother.
A week after making contact with her brother, Iman escaped during a rare trip outside the compound and made her way to the Saudi Arabian Embassy. She is now living there while seeking permission to leave Iran.
Bin Laden said that his relatives live as normal a life as possible, cooking meals, watching television and reading. They are allowed out only rarely for shopping trips. As a number of families are being held in the compound some of the older siblings have been able to marry and have their own children.
bin Laden, who had lived with his father in exile in Sudan and Afghanistan but left before the 9/11 attacks, insists: "They are all just innocent victims, just the same as anyone else hurt by the dreadful events of 9/11 and 7/7. These babies and children have never had any education, never hurt a single soul, never trained with any weapons or ever been part of al-Qaeda." (ANI)