The following are excerpts from an interview with Osama bin Laden's brother Yaslam bin Laden, which was aired by Al-Arabiya TV on July 3, 2005.
Presenter: Where were you on 9/11?
Yaslam bin Laden: On 9/11, I was at the Geneva airport, with a Swiss friend who was flying back to Zurich. We sat in the airport and had coffee. I got a call from an American friend who lives in London and works as a broker on the stock market. He told me a plane crashed into a building in New York. With the first plane, we thought it was an accident, since there are always aviation accidents. We continued to drink our coffee at the airport, and we didn't think anything of it. The same guy called me again a little later, and told me another plane crashed into a building. Then we thought there might be some mistake – How could this possibly happen to two planes within half an hour? My friend entered the airport and left for Zurich, and I drove into town.
Presenter: Did you suspect Osama Bin Laden was responsible? Who did you think could do this?
Yaslam bin Laden: I didn't think anything like that. I thought that something might have gone terribly wrong with the computers directing the planes, or with something else. In no way could anyone imagine such a thing.
Some time later, I called my brother Khalil, who was in America, and he told me that, Allah be praised, everything was fine. Obviously at that time all the brothers and family members in America had to leave as quickly as possible. This was not the time to be in America. Allah be praised, with the help of the Saudi government… The Saudi government helped us and got the entire family out of America.
From a young age, many of us were sent overseas to study. Some went to Lebanon, some to Syria, some to Egypt, and some remained in Saudi Arabia. Some of my brothers and I studied in Lebanon. I left for Lebanon at the age of six or seven, and returned only after graduating from university in America. Osama was one of those who did not leave Saudi Arabia. I think there were four or five brothers who didn't leave. Since I returned from America in 1977 or 1978, until 1981 – I think 1981 was the first time left Saudi Arabia for Afghanistan – I met Osama bin Laden three or four times during this period.
Presenter: What did you think of him?
Yaslam bin Laden: Osama was more religious than the rest of us. Those of us who went to Lebanon had other things on our mind.
Presenter: Perhaps if he had been taken to Lebanon, he wouldn't have turned out Osama Bin Laden. His mother is Syrian. Why didn't he study in Syria?
Yaslam bin Laden: This was the decision of my father, may he rest in peace. I don't know why. I'm telling you that if he had gone to Lebanon, he might have turned out a little different.
Presenter: Was he religious? Your former wife wrote in her book that he refused to look at her face.
Yaslam bin Laden: Yes, I think it's true. He did not like to listen to music or to watch TV, and he prevented his children from doing so. I thought that was odd.
Presenter: You didn't discuss this with him?
Yaslam bin Laden: He can do what he wants in his home, as I can in mine.
Presenter: Was he charismatic?
Yaslam bin Laden: He was still young then. We were all young.
Presenter: Do you think he's dead?
Yaslam bin Laden: No, I don't.
Presenter: How do you know he's not dead? Where is Osama Bin Laden then? The great America, which occupied two countries, or you could even say the entire world, has not yet managed to find Osama bin Laden.
Yaslam bin Laden: You should ask them.