Just four days before he was about to legally change his first name, Iraqi teenager Osama Bin Laden Hussein died after being electrocuted, a cousin said on Thursday.
The 16-year-old was named by his father after Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, whose group carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, his cousin, Mohannad, told AFP.
“He was born at the end of 2001, just after the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers [in New York],” said Mohannad, who declined to give his surname.
At time Iraqi media under former dictator Saddam Hussein “depicted Ben Laden as a hero, not a terrorist” and Hussein’s father chose that first name for his newborn son as a tribute, he said. But that choice backfired.
After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US soldiers raided the Hussein family home after they learned that “Bin Laden” lived there, an episode that scarred the young boy, said the cousin.
Hussein was afraid of venturing out of the family home, staying indoors to avoid encountering a patrol which would ask for his papers.
Eventually he dared to go out and sold tea on the street to earn some pocket money.
His luck changed after he was interviewed by a local television channel two months ago.
Interior Minister Qassem Al Araji saw the show and invited Hussein and his family to a meeting in Baghdad’s high-security “Green Zone”, said Ahmad Al Hajj, the journalist who conducted the interview.
The family was “terrified” when they received the call from the interior minister asking to meet them but the visit went well, Hajj told AFP.
The minister “joked with Hussein, gave him an Iphone and asked him to choose a new first name”, said Hajj.
Hussein could not think of one and the minister opted for Ahmad, and a new identify card bearing his name change was due to be delivered on Sunday.
Buoyed by his good fortune, Hussein went looking for a job and a week ago found one in a shop that sells spare parts.
On Wednesday, he climbed on the roof of the shop to bring down some supplies but slipped and grabbed onto an electricity cable, said Mohannad.
“He was electrocuted and died,” the cousin said.
Around 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 plane attacks on the United States, while Bin Laden was killed in a 2011 US raid on a compound in Pakistan.
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