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It’s Official: Osama bin Laden Delisted From UN Sanctions


Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda who was killed by United States Navy Seal forces on May 2, 2011, in Pakistan, was at last officially removed from the international sanctions list by the United Nations last month.

What took so long? At the UN, the answer is almost always in the procedures.

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, officially de-sanctioned by the United Nations on Feb. 21, 2013.

The recent announcement by the UN Security Council said that the deletion of Bin Laden from the Al Qaeda sanctions list was approved on Feb. 21, 2013, and that the frozen assets, travel ban and arms embargo set out in various council resolutions on the terrorist leader over the years “no longer apply.” Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been sanctioned in numerous resolutions since 1999. His delisting was approved in a 2012 resolution.

But such procedures for the Al Qaeda sanctions committee are extensive, which may explain why it took nearly two years after Bin Laden’s death for removal to occur and after a movie about his death, “Zero Dark Thirty” was released in 2012. A UN fact sheet on delisting says, among other things, that “for a deceased individual, the delisting request shall be submitted either directly to the Committee by a State, or to the Office of the Ombudsperson by his/her legal beneficiary, together with official documentation certifying that status.”

The request must include a “death certificate or similar official documentation confirming the death” and that the sanctions committee decides on such requests by full consensus of its members — that is, all 15 Security Council members.

The UN press release on Bin Laden’s deletion says that unfreezing his assets remains subject to conditions put forth in the 2012 resolution; that is, UN member states must submit to the Security Council Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee “assurances” that the “assets will not be transferred, directly or indirectly, to a listed individual, group, undertaking or entity, or otherwise used for terrorist purposes in line” with a resolution passed in 2001.

The various dates of birth ascribed to Bin Laden are noted as well: July 30, 1957; July 28 1957; March 10, 1957; Jan. 1, 1957;  or just 1956 or 1957. Bin Laden’s place of birth is also unclear; it’s either Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen (no city or town). The spelling for his name includes about a dozen variations, or “good quality a.k.a.,” such as Usamah Bin Muhammad bin Ladin. “Low quality a.k.a.” include Abu Abdallah Abd Al-Hakim.

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The statement says his Saudi citizenship had been withdrawn and his Afghan nationality had been given to him by the Taliban. His name is written in the original script:  أسامة محمد عوض بن لادن

A Bin Laden relative, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who is married to a Bin Laden daughter, Fatima, was charged last week by the United States with conspiracy to kill Americans. He faces a criminal trial in New York.

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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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