Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Canon 5DSR + 35mm 1.4L
Osama bin Laden's mother, Alia Ghanem, photographed at her home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 23rd June 2018 for The Guardian. For many years Alia and her family have remained publicly silent, throughout Osama bin Laden's two-decade reign as al-Qaida leader, a period that included the devastating attacks in New York and Washington DC on September 11th 2001 and ended in 2011 with his death in Pakistan. The Guardian was able to arrange an interview and photographs with Alia Ghanem after months-long negotiations, both with the Bin Laden family and the House of Saud. Inside a spacious reception room at the family mansion and surrounded by framed photographs of her son, Ghanem describes Osama bin Laden as a man who is, to her, still a beloved son who somehow lost his way. To begin with she recalled her firstborn as a shy boy who was academically capable. He became a strong, driven, pious figure in his early 20s and then became radicalised, Ghanem says, while studying economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. "He was a very good child until he met some people who pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s. You can call it a cult", Ahmad, a half-brother of Osama bin Laden who was also present in the room at the time of the interview/portraits, adds, "it has been 17 years now [since 9/11] and she remains in denial about Osama. She loved him so much and refuses to blame him. Instead, she blames those around him. She only knows the good boy side, the side we all saw. She never got to know the jihadist side." Some of the information in this caption has been sourced from the original Guardian article written by Martin Chulov, for which the portraits were commissioned to illustrate. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/03/osama-bin-laden-mother-speaks-out-family-interview). Photograph by David Levene email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 07966 254129
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