Omar Osama bin Laden, 29, bin Laden's fourth oldest son, said he did not know his family members were alive until they called him in November. He had lived in exile with his father in Sudan and Afghanistan, but left before the 9/11 attacks and now lives in Qatar with his wife, Zaina.
The family told him they had fled to Iran from Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks and were kept in the compound "for their own safety." The children were Saad, 20 at the time, Ossman 17, Muhammad 15, Fatma 14, Hamza 12, Iman 9, and Bakr, 7.
It has been believed before that Muhammad was the second in command of al Qaeda and that Saad had helped plan and execute terrorist attacks until he was killed by an American drone bombing about 18 months ago. But the bin Laden family says Muhammad is still living in the compound and that Saad ran away less than a year ago.
"They are all just innocent victims, just the same as anyone else hurt by the dreadful events of 9/11 and 7/7. These babies and children have never had any education, never hurt a single soul, never trained with any weapons or ever been part of al-Qaeda," bin Laden said. "We just want to be together as a family."
Iman escaped from the compound one week after talking to her brother, and made her way to the Saudi Arabian embassy, where she is staying while seeking permission to leave Iran.
Omar bin Laden hopes his family will be allowed to leave and join his mother, brother and sisters in Syria or him and his wife in Qatar.
"Some may find this story unnerving, but the child can't be judged by the sins of their father," he said.
Read more at The Times.