"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wives, Kids & Two Stories from the Life of Osama bin Laden

Remember I told y'all I was reading a book about Osama bin Laden written by his first wife, fourth son and Jean Sasson?  Well, I've read about 100 pages and have found it rather interesting to go inside their private world. They have shared anecdotes that they recall from early years of marriage and growing up in Jeddah, summers in Pakistan, Medina and now Sudan.  Anyway, I started keeping a list of all the children since I'm kind of a name nerd and just wanted to see how many children were born to each wife. So far 14 kids from his four wives, but I think Omar said he was one of twenty so I'll keep my eyes peeled for who has children next and record them!  The current list is below.

Omar shared a cute story from when he and his brothers were young.  Three veiled women came to their door collecting money during a religious holiday.  The boys didn't realize this, however, and were unsure what to do about these women at their door. They knew their father liked women -- since they had their moms plus 'aunties' at home -- so they invited them inside to become wives of their father. They thought it would be so nice to get three wives at once for their dad!  As the women hurriedly left, the boys ran after them and tried to convince them to stay.  (see pg. 69)  I enjoy visualizing things so this was very cute taking place in my mind!

A funny story happened when Najwa, Osama's first wife, and his fourth wife, Siham, were pregnant at the same time.  Siham was due two months later, however, she went into early labor at the same time Najwa went into labor with her eighth child.  As Najwa recalls:

Had I not been feeling so poorly, I would have smiled watching my husband struggle to settle two pregnant women into the backseat of his new Mercedes. ... As might be expected, there was a bit of bedlam at the hospital as the staff dashed about trying to admit two women into labor rooms at the same time. There was such a commotion that several of the nurses had no idea that we were all together. The most humorous moment arrived after a bright-eyed nurse witnessed Osama dashing from my room into Siham's. The woman was a dainty Filipina, yet she was very bold, scolding my physically large husband, telling him that he must remain in his wife's room. That little nurse warned him, "You will get into serious trouble for peeking at another woman!"  (pg. 75)

Here are the wives and kids so far.


1.  Najwa - co-author of the book
2.  Khadijah
3.  Khairiah
4.  Siham

Children in order of birth - mom's # is beside them

Abdullah - 1
Abdul Rahman - 1
Sa'ad - 1
Omar - 1  - co-author of the book
Osman - 1
Ali - 2
Mohammed - 1
Fatima -1
Kadhija - 4
Khalid - 4
Hamza - 3
Amer - 2
Iman - 1
Miriam - 4

I'm working on another post from No God but God.  This time it's the "rightly guided ones" I've learned more about. Thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion on my notes. I've enjoyed it!

Quotes/stories from Growing up bin Laden by Najwa bin Laden, Omar bin Laden and Jean Sasson


Anonymous said...

I was SO tempted to buy this book a while back but passed for something better.
This is very interesting and I will have to keep tabs on your post to see if it is something I would like to read.

I do have a book for you if you get a chance though...it is called Zeitoun(sorry if the spelling is wrong) and it is about a man who is a New Orleans native and what happened to him after Kartrina. It is very good. I really liked it and it is among my favs. I will post soon about my favorite books and take some photos ..just for you :)

I have to say I admire you so much for the amount of books you get to read. I am so jealous! I also love your post because I sometimes get my books from them. I can think of four so far that I bought because I read about them here. The last one being about Blooms of Darkness. How ya like that? lol

The kids are all sleeping and my homework is done so I think I will go paint since I am not TOO tired. I love this quiet time.

Have a good evening
lots of hugs

sanil said...

What cute stories! And what an interesting concept for a book. I like that he seems very normal and human in that second story. I can picture it easily. And that makes the violence and extremism seem completely crazy and incomprehensible. It's a good reminder that nobody is one-dimensional, and Osama isn't some ridiculous cartoon villain, he's a person with real concerns and ideas. Definitely going to pick this book up when I get a chance.

Wafa' said...

i loved the kids story. lol. inviting women to be their father's wives !!

you know one of the wives, i am not sure if it was Khadeja or Siham, used to work with my aunt, she is from Medina. They speak so highly oh her and how educated she was. it's a regret how such woman would follow a man to the end of the world even if he was this killer !!! . I don't know if your education wont help you to decide what's best for you and your kids, then what will help ?? unless they have the same ideas the husband have !!
I remember everyone talking how many members of her family have passed away without having the chance to see them , so sad :(

Lat said...

I think I've read in the papers that Osama has about 20 children or beyond so far.

I've read a little about the BinLadens from The Veiled Kingdom by Carmen Bin Laden.The author was married to one of Osama's half-brothers.His father was more productive than Osama :D He roughly had 54 children!

The author did mention Najwar,the
1st wife,when she had 7 children.He used to chide his wife when she attemped to use a rubber tit to feed her child and how she was extremely frustrated and cried often.Sometimes there appears to be difference how one perceives the story from the 1st person to the 3rd.The question is how happy is Najwah? Does she like the life she's leading? Or rather does she have a choice at all? Does she have good opinions on Osama?

The hospital scene does seem funny.It's just that I'm not used to seeing such stuff while growing up untill now.Muslim men here are mostly monogamous even if they're childless.That's why I can't seem to connect with this part of Arabs' life.Or to get 3 additional wives for one father! Hilarious! Thank God the women ran away!

And the Omar character is very interesting.Is he the one who married the British granny? :)I wonder if the marriage is still alive and strong :)

Susanne said...

Shell, when I mentioned recently that I was reading this book, I think 3 or 4 people warned me that Jean Sasson's books were tabloid/sensational types. Since I'd already checked it out from the library (maybe you could see if yours has it if you don't want to buy it) and read a few pages, I decided to keep reading. Jean makes a point of showing what notes are hers.The rest is supposedly translations of what Omar and Najwa have shared with her about their private lives. I figured at the very least I could hear a few interesting cultural stories and I have so I've actually enjoyed it pretty well.

I read an article about Zeitoun not too long ago. He seems like a wonderful guy. Thanks for recommending that book! Well, I'm positive I have more time to read because I don't have little children to keep track of like you do! I admire YOU for being able to read, paint, go to school, plus be a wife and mother! Now THAT is truly admirable! I'm eager to read your favorite books and I hope you enjoyed painting last night! I appreciate your comment! :-)

Susanne said...

Sanil, Jean Sasson states in the beginning that no one is born a terrorist and by reading what his wife and son have written I can see the progression of some things although they didn't know a lot that was going on due to their statuses. Najwa and Omar give some clues that help you put together how his extremism formed. I've still got about 200 pages to read so I'll see what else is said about all that. Presently (in the book) Osama has fled Saudi Arabia and is living with his growing family in Khartoum, Sudan. He had a rift with the Saudi royals when they chose to allow the infidel Americans and *gasp* female soldiers into Saudi instead of accepting Osama's offered services to fight against Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Susanne said...

Wafa', I'm glad you liked the story about the women at the door! :) Omar said Siham was from Medina because he notes how she was happier there since her family lived nearby. They had moved from Jeddah to Medina in one part of the story. How interesting that your aunt knew her! I think Osama's wives were kept ignorant of a LOT of what he did. At least I get this impression so far. These women were basically locked in their big house taking care of their children. Even Omar said when they moved to Sudan, he and his older brothers looked around at their mother's new "prison" (his word). He said the boys weren't given a lot of freedom, but compared to the women of the household, the boys were "free as birds." I'll let you know if more is said about the wives and their knowledge of OBL's activities. He was certainly odd in many aspects. He took his whole family to the desert one evening, made them dig holes and sleep in them all night. He wanted them to know how to survive in harsh conditions and wouldn't let them have food or water in the desert. What was also weird to me was how he wouldn't let the kids smile much. He'd count how many teeth were showing and if it were too many, they would be hit with his cane! I always like hearing your thoughts on this since you live in KSA and know people who know the family and hear the local talk and all that. You help give a better perspective or fuller one since the thoughts of Bin Laden here are usually not very favorable so we don't see him as a man, but simply a terrorist.

Susanne said...

Lat, 54 children! *faints* Wow! I remember when Osama approached Najwa (the first wife and author of this book) about taking another wife. He wanted to increase the world's Muslim population. I think he had about 12 children by the time he reached age 32! I can't imagine! :)

Najwa seems pretty happy so far in the book. She admits to not knowing what all her husband was doing since he rarely confided in his wives about his religious and political involvements. She shares some moments that she treasures when Osama didn't seem to be so uptight and actually enjoyed playing with his little girls. You can always sense, though, that Osama was a very disciplined, rigid man. He wouldn't allow his children any toys except a football. They couldn't play with the neighborhood children. Very few modern conveniences -- he wouldn't allow them to run the refrigerator and even the air conditioning in Sudan! Although they lived in huge houses, they were sparsely furnished. No American softdrinks allowed so the kids would sneak money from the mother to buy it when their dad was out of town. I sense Najwa loved him, but also feared him. But she was a traditional woman who didn't question or disobey her husband. Just stayed pregnant and taking care of her many children. I'll keep you posted if things change, but I admire her positive attitude so far. :)

Yes, I think Omar is the one who married the British woman although we haven't reached that point in the book. Omar is about 12 or so where I'm at now.

Thanks for your feedback. I enjoyed everyone's thoughts on what I wrote about this book. Thank you!