Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Osama Bin Laden's Family in Iran: New Strain on Saudi-Iran Ties

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Osama Bin Laden's Family in Iran: New Strain on Saudi-Iran Ties

Article excerpt

Six children and one wife of Osama Bin Laden have reportedly been living in Iran since fleeing Afghanistan shortly before 9/11. His 17- year-old daughter recently escaped to the embassy of Saudi Arabia, Iran's traditional rival.

Seven members of Osama bin Laden's immediate family have been under

house arrest in Iran and living in a high security compound outside

Tehran since 2001, news outlets reported on Wednesday.

The group includes six children of the Al Qaeda leader and one of

his wives, all of whom reportedly fled Afghanistan and walked to the

Iran border just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and

Washington, according to The Times in London.

One 17-year-old daughter, Iman, escaped from from the Tehran

compound and has been holed up in the Saudi Arabia Embassy for 25

days, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

The asylum request - and public revelations about the continuing

Bin Laden family presence in Iran - are sure to complicate

relations between the two traditional rivals for power in the Middle

East: Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

During his first term, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on a charm

offensive to woo Saudi and other Arab leaders. But Iran's rising

influence and that of its "Axis of Resistance" - with Hezbullah,

Hamas, and Syria - raised concern in Riyadh and other Arab

capitals.

The disputed June election was final proof for many in the Arab

world that Iran's regional power was on the wane again. For Saudi

Arabia, evidence of that came just last week when it was able to

precipitate an unlikely meeting between Syrian President Bashar

al-Assad, an Iran ally, and Lebanon's pro-West Prime Minister Saad

Hariri - who for five years has accused Syria of killing his

father.

US turned down Iranian offer for Al Qaeda operativesOne of Bin

Laden's oldest sons, Saad, was known for years to be among some 35

Al Qaeda operatives that fled to Iran after the US toppling of the

Taliban government and expulsion of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan in late

2001. …

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