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Documentary on life with bin Laden
Updated: 2004-03-07 10:17

Osama bin Laden likes poetry and volleyball, had squabbles with his children, and banned any American conveniences like ice and soft drinks, according to a Canadian TV documentary on a family that had close ties to the al Qaeda leader until 2001.

The program showed a softer side of the world's No. 1 fugitive, but it also reflected his fundamentalist Islamic attitudes toward women and his terrorist war against the United States.

The show's main interview subject, Abdurahman Khadr, said he was captured in Afghanistan and worked for a time with the CIA, FBI and the U.S. military. Khadr said his father, Ahmed Said, dragged the whole family into the world of al Qaeda by moving them into bin Laden's compound.

Abdurahman Khadr, a 21-year-old Canadian who returned to Canada last year, described bin Laden as "a normal human being" during the two-part show Wednesday on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

"He has issues with his wife and he has issues with his kids. Financial issues, you know. The kids aren't listening, the kids aren't doing this and that," Khadr said.

The Khadr family, including Ahmed Said -- a suspected terrorist and al Qaeda founder who was killed last year in Pakistan -- lived from 1996 to 2001 in the same compound as bin Laden, his four wives and family near Jalalabad in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden spent several hours a day with his children, playing volleyball or encouraging them to read poetry. He awarded them horses when they learned the Quran by heart.

Women in the household, however, had "lots of restrictions, where they go, when they go, where they come, when they come, who visits to them and how long you can stay in their house and all that," said Abdurahman Khadr's sister, Zaynab.

The Khadrs said bin Laden forbade the use of American products, as well as ice, cold water and electricity, and lived in mud huts.

"He never jokes, very quiet person, very polite. Can be a saint, something like a saint. I see him as a very peaceful man," said a brother, Abdullah.

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