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Spain rejects Bin Laden son's asylum request

Dismiss that his life would be in danger in Middle East

Published:

Spain has rejected a request by one of Osama bin Laden's sons for political asylum because it does not accept his argument that his life is in danger in the Middle East, the interior ministry and a source close to his entourage said Wednesday.

"The reason they gave is that they don't believe his life is in danger," the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, told AFP.

A Spanish interior ministry spokesman confirmed that the asylum request had been rejected, adding the decision met the rules of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Omar bin Laden, who says he has not seen his father since 2000, now has 24 hours to appeal the decision.

The 28-year-old, who has urged his father to give up violence, had argued that his life was threatened in the Middle East because of his pacifist positions.

He made the asylum request on Monday immediately after he arrived at Madrid's Barajas airport on an Egypt Air flight from Cairo, where he currently lives with his British wife Zaina Alsabah bin Laden, 52, formerly known as Jane Felix-Browne. They married in 2006.

In April British authorities turned down a request from Omar, a former scrap metal merchant, for a settlement visa.

At the time he said he wanted to live in England with Zaina at her home in northwestern England in the village of Moulton, near Northwich in Cheshire.

The British embassy in Cairo said it had based its decision on fears that his presence in the country would cause "considerable public concern".

It is thought the authorities were referring to comments made by Omar that he could not be certain that his father was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States that killed over 3,000 people.

He has appealed that decision. The results of the appeal are expected early next year.

January headlines

Saudi-born Omar is the fourth of 11 children born to his father's first wife, and he is one of 19 children Osama bin Laden has fathered.

He made headlines in January when he urged his father to renounce violence in an interview broadcast on CNN.

"I try and say to my father: 'Try to find another way to help or find your goal. This bomb, this weapons, it's not good to use it for anybody,'" said Omar, who sported dreadlocks that dangled halfway down his back.

In a video broadcast in October 20004, just before the last U.S. presidential elections, Osama bin Laden said he ordered the airline hijackings that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In 2004 Spain suffered one of Europe's deadliest attacks when bombs planted by Islamic extremists inspired by Al-Qaeda and angered by the country's participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq exploded on packed commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people.