peta in talks with osama bin laden's family over desert horse race
Saudi Arabia – Following an appeal from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid E Newkirk to Omar Osama bin Laden – the estranged son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden – and his wife, Zaina, urging them to cancel their plans to hold a "gruelling endurance horse race" across the Sahara as a "way of promoting peace", the family is now in touch with PETA about care provisions for the horses. The bin Ladens have given several assurances regarding veterinary care and other safeguards, but PETA is hoping that the talks will lead to a very different kind of race – such as one involving human endurance or vehicles like Jeeps.
The bin Ladens are planning a 3,000-mile horse race across North Africa that is set to begin in March. They are describing the race as an equine version of the Paris-Dakar car rally, which was cancelled this year because of terrorist threats. PETA worries that the race will be anything but peaceful for the horses – it is believed that the animals will cross some 30 miles of desert per day, in addition to facing other hazards.
In an e-mail to PETA, Mrs bin Laden says, "The race will not be undertaken in the summer and we will not ride in the mid day sun", prompting Newkirk to ask for a meeting to discuss details and other options, such as a Jeep race.