The mother of the former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has spoken publicly about her son for the first time, describing him as a “very good child” who was radicalised while studying at university.
In an interview with British newspaper the Guardian, Alia Ghanem said her son had been a shy and good child growing up, but he “became a different man” while studying economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
“The people at university changed him,” Ms Ghanem told the Guardian.
While studying at the university, bin Laden met Abdullah Azzam, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Azzam was later exiled from Saudi Arabia and became Osama’s spiritual adviser.
“He was a very good child until he met some people who pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s,” Ms Ghanem said.
“You can call it a cult. They got money for their cause.
“I would always tell him to stay away from them, and he would never admit to me what he was doing, because he loved me so much.”
Ms Ghanem was interviewed along with bin Laden’s two half-brothers and the man who raised all three children, Mohammed al Attas.
In the interview, the family say they last saw bin Laden in 1999, two years before the September 11 attacks, when he was living in Afghanistan.