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Osama Bin Laden’s son wants to get rid of his last name’s reputation by painting American landscapes

Omar Bin Laden is trying to do the opposite thing to his father and turn to art to express his feelings.

The Bin Laden surname has been linked for years to horrors, violence, and extremisms, however, there is one man who carries not only the last name but the blood of one of America’s worst enemies and who is trying to end that lineage. Omar Bin Laden, the fourth-eldest son of Osama Bin Laden, wants to bring peace to the world through his art. He is a painter that takes American western and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan landscapes as inspiration.

Although he is not a professional painter –he started exploring his artistic side at the beginning of the pandemic—he does have a lineage of artistry from his mother’s side. “The need to draw and paint runs in my blood,” he said in an interview with Vice.

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Most of his work focuses on landscapes that remind him of his childhood in the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, the place where his father went to hide after the now infamous September of 2001. But he also considers American deserts a muse, despite not having visited them, he recreates them by taking as a reference the landscapes of many western films (one of his favorite genres), especially Unforgiven starred by Clint Eastwood.

Omar’s style has a childlike simplicity, as a way to remember the simplicity of his childhood on Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan where his father had horses, goats, and gazelles before turning it into a military base many years before.

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“I miss the fun times I had, the times when I was too young to know and too innocent to see the world around me,” he told Vice. “I miss the vast stretches of desert dunes and rolling seas. I miss the peace of childhood.”

The difficult teenage years

Omar was 15 when his father ordered him to be taken to al Qaeda’s training camps near the Tora Bora caves to prepare for battle; however, at 18 he decided to abandon the mission and go back with his mother to Syria.

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Omar admitted he wasn’t particularly close to his father, especially because he wasn’t much of a loving and caring one. The last time he saw Osama Bin Laden was at his compound in Afghanistan in 2001 when Omar was 20 years.

For years, Omar has condemned the September 11 attacks and has expressed his sorrow for the thousands of victims who lost their lives. He also has denounced Al Qaeda’s and his father’s violent ideologies, distancing himself from them.

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He began exploring painting during the pandemic, focusing on those landscapes in the Middle East that make him remember the tranquility and peace in his earlier childhood; of course, some of his work depicts as well the sorrow and the sense of violence that he went through, especially during his time in the Tora Bora caves.

But he also finds inspiration in the American landscapes that he sees through western movies.

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Omar’s goal is to become an “ambassador for peace” and do all the opposite things his father did. He also has been dealing and coming to terms with bipolar disorder and all the psychological scars of his past.

“I want the world to learn that I have grown; that I am comfortable within myself for the first time in my life; that the past is the past and one must learn to live with what has gone by,” he says. “One must forgive if not forget, so that one may be at peace with one’s emotions”, told Vice.

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Nowadays, Omar lives in Normandy, France with his wife Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah, and some horses. He enjoys spending time in front of a canvas and giving strokes to bring to life his memories.

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