linkA Canadian documentary about a family closely linked to Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) portrays the al Qaeda chief as a well-meaning family man who banned ice in drinks, loves volleyball and has trouble controlling his children.
The program, broadcast on CBC television Wednesday night, lifted the veil on the private life of the world's most wanted man, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide attacks in the United States.
It included lengthy interviews with the widow and children of Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-born friend of bin Laden and an accused al Qaeda financier.
Khadr was killed in a gun battle with Pakistani police last October, and his son, Omar, 17, is in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay accused of involvement in the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Another son, 21-year-old Abdurahman Khadr, was released from Guantanamo Bay late last year and now lives in Toronto. In the documentary he described bin Laden as quite normal.
"He has issues with his wife, and he has issues with his kids, financial issues, you know, the kids aren't listening, the kids aren't doing this and that. It comes down to (the fact) he's a father and he's a person," he said.
Khadr's 23-year-old daughter Zaynab, who lives with her mother in Pakistan, said bin Laden was athletic.
"He loved playing volleyball. And he loved horse riding... Kids played around him....And (when) they'd go shooting he'd go with them. If he missed his (shot), they'd laugh at him and stuff like that," she said.
The Khadrs lived in the bin Laden family compound in the Afghan town of Jalalabad for several years, leaving the compound soon before the United States attacked Afghanistan in late 2001. One son, 14-year-old Abdul Karim, was paralyzed in the fight which killed his father.
BE READY TO SURVIVE
Zaynab said bin Laden imposed many restrictions on his three wives and their children and banned the use of electricity in their part of the compound.
"He didn't allow them to drink cold water...because he wanted them to be prepared (so that if) one day there's no cold water, they'd be able to survive and it wouldn't be so difficult for them," she said.
"He didn't like to buy American soft drinks, Coke and Pepsi and all that."
Abdurahman recalled: "He was against using ice, and he actually forbade it (for) the people that lived around him... He didn't want them to be spoiled."
Ahmed Said Khadr was arrested in Pakistan in 1996 on suspicion of financing a fatal bombing of the Egyptian embassy there. He insisted he was an innocent charity worker, and was released after then Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien intervened in the case.
"I admit it that we are an al-Qaeda family. We had connections to al-Qaeda," said Abdurahman Khadr, who says he opposed violence and had resisted his father's urgings to become a suicide bomber.
But another son, 22-year-old Abdullah Khadr, backed the idea of martyrdom for Islam. "Every Muslim dreams of being a shahid (martyr) for Islam," he said. "Everybody dreams of this, even a Christian would like to die for their religion."
The documentary offered no clues on when the Khadr family had last seen bin Laden, who is still the subject of a manhunt in the tribal areas which straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Abdurahman and Zaynab remembered the al Qaeda leader as a man who loved horses and camels.
"Their father had promised them that he would get them a horse if they memorized the Koran. They were so anxious to finish memorizing it so that they could get a horse, which shows you that they're normal children too," said Abdurahman.
Wow 3 wives