Saudi Father Says Son Suspected in US Terror Attacks was Mentally Ill
The father of two Saudis suspected of hijacking one of the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center in New York said he had lost track of them months ago, and that one was mentally ill.
Mohammad Ali al-Shihri told Al-Iqtissadia daily that his 26-year-old son Wael had been working as a teacher, obtained an extended leave without pay from his work to seek treatment, and never returned.
Younger son Waleed was a student at a local teachers training college and went to accompany his brother.
"My sons left Khamees Mshait (in southern Saudi Arabia) for the holy city of Medina last Ramadan (in December) for treatment of mental illness by a cleric," he said.
The father said he was not certain that the two men on the list of suspected hijackers released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday were his sons.
"I thought they were away for such a long period because of treatment, especially since Wael's illness was mental," he said.
The FBI said Waleed and Wael al-Shihri were believed to be pilots.
Meanwhile the family of Saudi-born Islamist dissident Osama bin Laden, Washington's prime suspect in the September 11 terror attacks, again disowned him and condemned his actions.
"We reaffirm what we announced in February 1994, namely that the Bin Laden family has nothing to do with his actions and behavior," said a statement by the head of the family, Abdullah Awad Abboud bin Laden.
"We extend our condolences to the families of the innocent victims," he said in a statement published in the Saudi press.
All members of the family "strongly condemn and deplore this painful act which resulted in the death of many innocent men, women and children, and which contradicts our religion and is rejected by all religions and humanity," said the statement.
Bin Laden, who is being sheltered in Afghanistan by the hardline Islamist Taliban militia, was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 on charges of financing terrorist training camps and funding local extremists.
His family disowned him that same year.
Saudi Arabia has condemned the terror attacks in the United States and its leaders said they were ready to join international efforts against terrorism.
In a related development, some Saudi businessmen canceled travel plans to Europe and the United States in the wake of a wave of harassment of Arabs and Muslims in the West following the attacks.
Fawzi al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman, told the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat that he was advised to call off a trip to Germany to attend a motor show after stringent measures at airports singled out Arabs.
A local Saudi Arabian Airlines employee said a large number of bookings for Western destinations were cancelled after the attacks, but he gave no figures -- RIYADH (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)