May 6, 2011

In Fla., another bin Laden mansion sits empty

Tamara Lush, The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For sale: a five-bedroom, Mediterranean-style mansion with a red, barrel-tiled roof and arched doorways and windows. It even comes with some notoriety as it was once owned by one of Osama bin Laden's brothers.

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This undated photo shows a five-bedroom, Mediterranean-style mansion once owned by Khalil bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's brothers. Khalil, one of the terrorist mastermind's 54 siblings, bought the home in 1980 for $1.6 million, but the wealthy businessman and his family fled their vacation spot under police escort shortly after 9/11, fearing they might be targeted because of the terror attacks. The 1920s-era mansion has sat empty ever since.

AP/Autumn Norris-Makin

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Khalil bin Laden, one of the terrorist mastermind's 54 siblings, bought the home in 1980 for $1.6 million, but the wealthy businessman and his family fled their vacation spot under police escort shortly after 9/11, fearing they might be targeted because of the terrorist attacks. The 1920s-era mansion has sat empty ever since.

The home is in Oakland, Fla., a quiet small town about 20 miles west of Orlando. There's a pool, horse stables and a four-car detached garage. It has fallen into a bit of disrepair due to vandals and humid Florida weather, but the real estate agent in charge of selling the property said it can easily be restored to its previous grandeur.

Asking price: $1,999,000.

Khalil bin Laden's children used to run up and down the stairs, playing near the quiet lake in the back when the bin Laden name meant wealth and prestige. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

Eventually, boards covered windows that overlooked the 1,200 feet of private lake shoreline.

In February 2006, at the height of Florida's housing boom, Khalil bin Laden sold the property for $4 million, property records show, to a businessman who later went bankrupt and was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.

The home was eventually foreclosed on, said Autumn Norris-Makin, the Florida real estate agent who has been trying to sell the property for over a year. It was recently named by Forbes as one of the "creepiest abandoned mansions" in the U.S.

Norris-Makin said she's had a lot of interest despite the asking price. One person was thinking about turning the property into a bed and breakfast.

"It's an amazing property," she said Wednesday. "But not a lot of people have that kind of money right now. It would sell in a second if everyone knew the economy would turn around."

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