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Reports say Osama bin Laden told children not to follow his path

9:22 PM, Feb 13, 2012   |    comments
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Osama bin Laden. Photo Courtesy of FBI/Getty Images.

By Brian Todd

(CNN) - He was the world's most wanted terrorist, but there are new reports that before his death last year, Osama bin Laden urged his children and grandchildren not to follow in his footsteps.

He was committed to a life and death struggle with the west, but an extended family member now claims Osama bin Laden didn't want that for his children.

"You have to study, live in peace, and don't do what I am doing or what I have done." That quote is attributed to bin Laden by the brother of bin Laden's youngest wife.

Zakaria al-Sadah relayed the remark to the Sunday Times of London. Al-Sadah told the Times, "Bin Laden advised his children and the grandchildren to go to Europe and America and get a good education."

Can the brother-in-law be believed?

CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen says while living at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bin Laden would more likely have discussed those topics with his wives and children than anything about operations.

"They know about what Bin Laden was eating, and they could tell you a bit about his routine. But Bin Laden wasn't telling his wives, 'Hey I'm planning to attack Chicago.' Or anything like that. He would not have had those conversations with them," said Bergen.

But Michael Scheuer, who once ran the bin Laden tracking unit at the CIA, is skeptical about bin Laden telling his offspring to take a different path.

[Reporter]: "Are you buying him saying that?"

"I think it's very unlikely. At least there's no precedent. There's no evidence in anything he said over the course of his life, that would have indicated that he would turn 180 degrees. He once said that I would rather die with my children than live in Europe," said Scheuer.

The man who relayed the quotes to the Sunday Times is identified as the brother of Amal al-Sadah, also known as Amalahmed Abdulfatah, bin Laden's wife from Yemen. He says their daughter, a young girl named Safiyah, is the child most traumatized by the raid that killed her father.

He says Safaiyah was cradling the head of her wounded mother, when Pakistani security forces arrived after the raid.

The brother-in-law, according to the Sunday Times, met with his sister in Pakistan. In the wake of the Abbottabad raid, Pakistani officials contacted their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Yemen to arrange repatriation for the three wives bin Laden had been living with.

But a senior official, who's close to the bin Laden investigation, tells CNN the wives and their children remain in Pakistani custody. The official says that's because the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen have not made their own arrangements to repatriate them, so the Pakistanis are holding them for their own safety.

CNN has called and e-mailed Saudi and Yemeni officials in Washington to ask why their governments haven't moved to take back bin Laden's wives and children. CNN has not heard back.


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