Childhood, education and personal life of Osama bin Laden,
Osama bin Laden, a militant Islamist and a reported founder of al-Qaeda in 1988, believes Muslims should kill civilians and military personnel from the United States and allied countries until they withdraw support for Israel and withdraw military forces from Islamic countries. He has been indicted in United States federal court for his alleged involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, and is on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
In 1974, at the age of sixteen, Laden married his first wife Najwa Ghanem at Latakia. Osama bin Laden is reported to have married four other women and divorced two others who had borne sons Ali and Abdullah bin Laden. Bin Laden has fathered anywhere from 12 to 24 children.
Osama Muhammed bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In a 1998 interview, later televised on Al Jazeera, he gave his birth date as 10 March 1957. His father, the late Mohammed Awad bin Laden, was a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before World War I, ,emigrated from Hadhramaut, on the south coast of Yemen, to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he began to work as a porter. Starting his own business in 1930, Mohammed built his fortune as a building contractor for the Saudi royal family during the 1950s.
Though there is no definitive account of the number of children born to Mohammed bin Laden, it is generally put to 52. Various accounts place Osama as his seventeenth son. Mohammed bin Laden was married 22 times, although to no more than four women at a time per Sharia law. Osama was the only son of Muhammed bin Laden and his tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas, née Alia Ghanem, who was born in Syria.
Osama's parents divorced soon after he was born, according to Khaled M. Batarfi, a senior editor at the Al Madina newspaper in Jeddah who knew Osama during the 1970s. Osama's mother then married a man named Muhammad al-Attas, who worked at the bin Laden company. The couple had four children, and Osama lived in the new household with three stepbrothers and one stepsister.
Education and politicizationSee more about 9 11:
Bin Laden was raised as a devout Sunni Muslim. From 1968 to 1976 he attended the "élite" secular Al-Thager Model School. In the 1960s, King Faisal had welcomed exiled teachers from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan, so that by the early seventies it was common to find members of the Muslim Brotherhood teaching at Saudi schools and universities. During that time, bin Laden became a member of the Brotherhood and attended its political teachings during after-school Islamic study groups.
Bin Laden studied economics and business administration at the Management and Economics School of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. Some reports suggest bin Laden earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Other sources describe him as having left university during his third year,never completing a college degree, though "hard working." At university, bin Laden's main interest was religion, where he was involved in both in "interpreting the Quran and jihad" and charitable work.A close friend reports, "we read Sayyid Qutb. He was the one who most affected our generation." Sayyid Qutb himself, author of Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq, or Milestones, one of the most influential tracts on the importance of jihad against all that is un-Islamic in the world,was deceased, but his brother and publicizer of his work, Muhammad Qutb, lectured regularly at the university. So did another charismatic Muslim Brotherhood member, Abdallah Azzam, an Islamic scholar from Palestine who was instrumental in building pan-Islamic enthusiasm for jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and in drawing Muslims (like bin Laden) from all over the Middle East to fight there.
Osama is described by University friend Jamal Khalifa as extremely religious. Neither man watched movies or listened to music, because they believed such activities went against the teachings of the Qur’an. During his University career he witnessed many world-changing events, especially in 1979. First he watched the Iranian Revolution, in which Ayatollah Khomieini successfully overthrew Iran’s Western supported government to install an Islamist state. Then he saw the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by radicals in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi government’s pathetic response and reliance on Western power. It was not until the French special forces came in that the government was able to regain control of Mecca’s holiest city. Bin Laden was disgusted with his government’s lack of ability to protect the sacred city, and began to see the royal family more and more as corrupt. Finally, he ended 1979 ready to fight off the invading Soviets in Afghanistan.
In regards to his Islamic learning, Bin Laden is sometimes referred to as a "sheikh," considered by some to be "well versed in the classical scriptures and traditions of Islam", and is said to have been mentored by scholars such as Musa al-Qarni. He has no formal training in Islamic jurisprudence however, and has been criticized by Islamic scholars as having no standing to issue religious opinions (fatwa).
In 1974, at the age of seventeen, bin Laden married his first wife, his first cousin from Syria, Najwa Ghanem, his maternal uncle's daughter in Najwa's native land, at Latakia, in northwestern Syria. After the birth of his first son, Abdullah, they moved from his mother's house to a building in the Al-Aziziyah district of Jeddah.
Bin Laden is reported to have married 4 other women and divorced two, Umm Ali bin Laden (the mother of Ali) and Umm Abdullah. Umm Ali bin Laden was a University lecturer who studied in Saudi Arabia, and spent holidays in Khartoum, Sudan, where Osama later settled during his exile in the years 1991 to 1996. According to Wisal al Turabi, the wife of Sudan's ruler Hassan Turabi, Umm Ali taught Islam to some families in Riyadh, an upscale neighborhood in Khartoum. The three latter wives of Osama bin Laden were all university lecturers, highly educated, and from distinguished families. According to Wisal al Turabi he married them because they were "spinsters," who "were going to go without marrying in this world. So he married them for the Word of God".
Umm Hamza, a professor of child psychology, was reportedly his favorite wife, and most mature, seven years his senior. She had only one child, a son. Though she had a frail constitution and was not beautiful, she was from "a wealthy and distinguished family," exuded a "regal quality," and "was deeply committed to the jihadi cause".
Umm Khaled, teacher of Arabic grammar (both women kept their university jobs and commuted to Saudi Arabia during their time in Sudan).
Umm Ali, asked for a divorce while in Sudan. According to Abu Jandal, bin Laden's former chief bodyguard, Osama's wife Umm Ali asked Osama for a divorce because she said that she "could not continue to live in an austere way and in hardship".
Umm Abdullah, or Najwa, was bin Laden's first wife and the mother of eleven children, the youngest and least educated. Her children did not like life in Khartoum and even less life in Afghanistan. She left bin Laden around 2001, about the same time as his marriage to Amal al-Sada, a fifteen-year-old Yemeni girl who bin Laden married apparently as part of a "political arrangement" between him and "an important Yemeni tribe, meant to boost al-Qaeda recruitment in Yemen".
Bin Laden has fathered anywhere from 12 to 24 children. The children of his wife, Najwa, including Abdallah (born c. 1976), Omar, Saad and Muhammad. His son Muhammad bin Laden (born c. 1983) married the daughter of the former al-Qaeda military chief Mohammed Atef (aka Abu Haf) in January 2001, at Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Appearance and behaviour
The FBI describes Osama bin Laden as tall and thin, between 6'4" and 6'6" (193–198 cm) in height and weighing about 165 pounds (75 kg). Interviewees of Lawrence Wright, on the other hand, describe him as quite slender, but not particularly tall. He has an olive complexion, is left-handed, and usually walks with a cane. He wears a plain white turban and no longer dons the traditional Saudi male headdress, generally white.
In terms of personality, bin Laden is described as a soft-spoken, mild mannered man. His soft voice is also a function of necessity. Interviews with reporters have left his vocal cords inflamed and bin Laden unable to speak the following day. His bodyguard contends Soviet chemical weapons are to blame for this malady; reporters have speculated that kidney disease is the cause.
The author Adam Robinson has alleged that bin Laden supported Arsenal Football Club, visiting the team's stadium twice when he visited London in 1994.
In early November 2001, the Taliban government announced they were bestowing official Afghan citizenship on him, as well as Zawahiri, Mohammed Atef, and Shaykh Asim Abdulrahman.
Bin Laden's "wealth and generosity ... simplicity of ... behaviour, personal charm and ... bravery in battle" have been described as "legendary." According to Michael Scheuer, bin Laden claims to speak only Arabic. In a 1998 interview, he had the English questions translated into Arabic.But others, such as Rhimaulah Yusufzai and Peter Bergen, believe he understands English.
Bin Laden has been praised for his self-denial, despite his great wealth - or former great wealth. While living in Sudan, a lamb was slaughtered and cooked every evening at his home for guests, but bin Laden "ate very little himself, preferring to nibble what his guests left on their plates, believing that these abandoned morsels would gain the favor of God."
Bin Laden is said to have "consciously modeled himself" since childhood "on certain features of the Prophet's life", using "the fingers of his right hand," rather than a spoon when eating, believing it to be Sunnah "the way the Prophet did it, ... choosing to fast on the days that Prophet fasted, to wear clothes similar to those the Prophet may have worn, even to sit and to eat in the same postures that tradition ascribes to him."
At the same time, other actions of his are motivated by concern for appearances. Bin Laden is known for his media savvy, using the Islamic imagery of the cave in Tora Bora "as a way of identifying himself with the prophet in the minds of many Muslims," despite the fact the caves in question were tunnels dug with the modern technology of earth moving machinery to store ammunition. He has dyed his beard to cover the streaks of gray. In 2001 he restaged a recitation of a poem intended for Arab television when he wasn't satisfied with the original video results done before an audience at his son's wedding dinner. The second take, done the next day after the wedding was over, had a handful of supporters crying in praise to simulate the noise of the full room the day before. "His image management extended to asking one of the reporters, who had taken a digital snapshot, to take another picture because his neck was 'too full'"