Daniel Woolls, AP, Nov. 4, 2008
A son of Osama bin Laden who grabbed headlines by marrying a British woman last year has flown to Spain and requested asylum, the Spanish government said Tuesday.
Omar Osama bin Laden, 27, is a metals trader who had been living in Cairo, Egypt with his wife. He has not renounced his father, but has said he wants to be an “ambassador for peace” between the Muslim world and the West.
His wife said, however, that he was denied a British residency request this year after officials there said he had demonstrated continuing loyalty to his father.
Omar Osama bin Laden—one of the al-Qaida leader’s 19 children—arrived in Madrid Monday on a flight from Cairo to Casablanca, Morocco, an Interior Ministry official said.
He had been traveling on a Saudi passport, and remained at the airport Tuesday while the ministry considered his request for Spanish asylum, the official said on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy.
The official did not know on what grounds asylum was being sought. The ministry has 72 hours to make a decision, and the petitioner has a right of appeal.
Omar Osama bin Laden caused a tabloid storm last year after marrying Jane Felix-Browne, 52,who has since taken the name Zaina Alsabah. The couple later said they were planning a 3,000-mile horse race across North Africa next year to draw attention to the cause of peace, but the plan was downgraded to a desert horse race within Egypt in light of the difficulties of obtaining permission to cross borders in North Africa.
He has refrained from publicly criticizing his father, saying Osama bin Laden is just trying to defend the Islamic world.