WASHINGTON - The adult sons of Osama bin Laden have lashed out at President Barack Obama over their father's death, accusing the United States of violating its basic legal principles by killing an unarmed man, shooting his family members and disposing of his body in the sea.
The statement said the family was asking why the leader of al-Qaida "was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world." Citing the trials of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, the statement questioned "the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated," but the principles of presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial were ignored.
"We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems," the statement said, adding that "justice must be seen to be done."
The statement, prepared at the direction of Omar bin Laden, a son who had publicly denounced his father's terrorism, was provided to the New York Times by Jean Sasson, an American author who helped the younger Bin Laden write a 2009 memoir, Growing Up bin Laden. A shorter, slightly different statement was posted Tuesday on a jihadist website.
Omar bin Laden, 30, lived with his father in Afghanistan until 1999, when he left with his mother, Najwa bin Laden, who co-wrote the memoir. In the book and other public statements, the younger bin Laden denounced violence of all kinds, a stance he repeated in the sons' statement tothe Times. None of Osama bin Laden's sons other than Omar was named in the statement, so it was unclear exactly who else had approved the message.
"We want to remind the world that Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of our father, always disagreed with our father regarding any violence and always sent messages to our father, that he must change his ways and that no civilians should be attacked under any circumstances," the statement said. "Despite the difficulty of publicly disagreeing with our father, he never hesitated to condemn any violent attacks made by anyone, and expressed sorrow for the victims of any and all attacks."
The sons' statement also called on the government of Pakistan to hand over to family members the three wives and several children of the terrorist now believed to be in Pakistani custody and asked for a United Nations investigation of the circumstances of their father's death.
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Ex-Pakistan leader denies U.S. deal report
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf denied Tuesday that his administration struck an agreement with the United States years ago to let American special operations forces kill or capture Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan. The denial follows a report in a British newspaper that Washington and Islamabad reached a secret deal nearly a decade ago allowing the United States to conduct operations against bin Laden and two other top al-Qaida leaders on Pakistani soil.