Bin Laden family

Bin Laden family
Bin Laden
Bin Ladin
Current region Arabian Peninsula
Place of origin Yemen
Notable members Osama bin Laden
see Family members
Office building of the bin Laden family

The bin Laden family (Arabic: بن لادن‎, bin Lādin), also spelled bin Ladin, is a wealthy family intimately connected with the innermost circles of the Saudi royal family. The family was thrown into media spotlight through the activities of one of its members, Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The financial interests of the bin Laden family are represented by the Saudi Binladin Group, a global oil and equity management conglomerate grossing $5 billion US annually, and one of the largest construction firms in the Islamic world, with offices in London and Geneva.

The family traces its origins to a Hadhrami named Awad bin Laden, a Kindah tribesman from the village of Al Rubat, in the Wadi Doan in the Tarim Valley, Hadramout governorate, Yemen. He died in 1919. His son was Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (died 1967). Mohammed bin Laden was a native of the Shafi`i (Sunni) Hadhramaut coast in southern Yemen and emigrated to Saudi Arabia prior to World War I. He set up a construction company and came to Abdul Aziz ibn Saud's attention through construction projects, later being awarded contracts for major renovations at Mecca, where he made his initial fortune from exclusive rights to all mosque and other religious building construction not only in Saudi Arabia, but as far as Ibn Saud's influence reached. Until his death, Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden had exclusive control over restorations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Soon the bin Laden corporate network extended far beyond construction sites.

Mohammed's special intimacy with the monarchy was inherited by the younger bin Laden generation. Mohammed's sons attended Victoria College, Alexandria, Egypt. Their schoolmates included King Hussein of Jordan, Zaid Al Rifai, the Kashoggi brothers (whose father was one of the king's physicians), Kamal Adham (who ran the General Intelligence Directorate under King Faisal), present-day contractors Mohammed Al Attas, Fahd Shobokshi and Ghassan Sakr and actor Omar Sharif.

When Mohammed bin Laden died in 1967, his son Salem bin Laden took over the family enterprises, until his own accidental death in 1988. Salem was one of at least 54 children by various wives.


Bin Ladens and King Fahd

The two closest friends of King Fahd were Prince Mohammed bin Abdullah (son of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud's youngest brother) who died in the early 1980s and Salem bin Laden who died in 1988, when an ultralight aircraft that he was flying flew into powerlines in San Antonio, Texas.[1]

Family members

American and European intelligence officials estimate that all the relatives of the family may number as many as 600. In 1994, the bin Laden family disowned Osama and the Saudi government revoked his passport.[2] The Saudi government also stripped Osama bin Laden of his citizenship,[2] for publicly speaking out against them, after they permitted U.S. troops to be based in Saudi Arabia in preparation for the 1991 Gulf War.

The groupings of the family, based on the nationalities of the wives, include the most prominent "Saudi group", a "Syrian group", a "Lebanese group," and an "Egyptian group". The Egyptian group employs 40,000 people as that country's largest private foreign investor. Osama bin Laden was born the only son of Muhammed bin Laden's tenth wife,[3] Hamida al-Attas, who was of Syrian origin,[4] making Osama a member of the Syrian group.

First generation

  • Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (born c. 1908 in Hadhramaut) the family patriarch; before World War I, Mohammed, originally poor and uneducated, 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, Muhammed built his fortune as a building contractor for the Saudi royal family during the 1950s. Married 22 times, with 54 children; Osama bin Laden was born as the 17th child. Alia Ghanem (born in Syria) Muhammed's 10th wife, and mother of Osama; divorced soon after Osama was born, and remarried Osama's stepfather c. 1958.[3] In 1967 Mohammed was killed in an airplane crash in Saudi Arabia when his pilot misjudged a landing.
  • Muhammad al-Attas Osama's stepfather, in whose household Osama was raised at Jeddah; worked at the bin Laden company. The couple had five children, Osama's three half-brothers and one half-sister Fatima Mohammed al-Attas.
  • Abdallah bin Laden, uncle of OBL; headed SBG, died in Medina, March 21, 2002, at age 75.[5] he also had over 60 children and was married 6 times.

Second generation

  • Salem bin Laden (born 1946) attended Millfield, the English boarding school; took over the family empire in 1967; an amateur rock guitarist in the 1970s; married an English art student, Caroline Carey, whose half brother Ambrose Douglas is the illegitimate eldest son of the Marquess of Queensberry in Scotland; was killed outside San Antonio, Texas in 1988, when an experimental ultralight plane that he was flying got tangled in power lines.
  • Tarek bin Laden, b. 1947; once called "the personification of the dichotomy (conservatism and change) of Saudi Arabia."[6]
  • Bakr bin Laden, succeeded Salem as chairman of the Saudi Binladin Group; major power broker in Jeddah.
  • Hassan bin Laden, senior vice president of the SBG.
  • Yehia bin Laden, also active in the SBG; in 2001 owned 16 percent of Cambridge, MA-based Hybridon, Inc.[7]
  • Mahrous bin Laden was implicated in the Grand Mosque Seizure, carried out by dissidents against the Saudi ruling family at the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, on November 20, 1979. This event shook the Muslim world with the ensuing violence and killing of hundreds at the holiest of Islamic sites. Trucks owned by the family were reported to have been used to smuggle arms into the tightly controlled city. The bin Laden connection was through the son of a Sultan of Yemen who had been radicalized by Syrian members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mahrous was actually arrested for a time, but in the Saudi government response, he was not beheaded along with 63 others who were, their public executions broadcast on live Saudi television. Later exonerated, he joined the family business, and became manager of the Medina branch of the bin Laden enterprises, and a member of the board.
  • Osama bin Laden (born 1957 in Saudi Arabia, died May 2, 2011 in Pakistan) has claimed to have masterminded the September 11 attacks against the United States. Announced dead on May 2, 2011.[8] He was one of the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists.
  • Najwa Ghanem (born c. 1960 in Syria) Osama's first wife, married 1974; a first cousin, and his mother's niece. She co-authored Growing Up bin Laden with her son Omar.
  • (Shaikha) Mohammed bin Laden (born c. 1960), half-sister of Osama, married Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. He was the founder of Benevolence International Foundation, in the Philippines in 1988. During this period, Khalifa is believed to have received large donations of cash from outside the country, some of which, intelligence officials suspect, may have been funnelled to him by Al Qaeda. He also ran the International Relations and Information Centre, by which embezzled money was funneled to Ramzi Yousef. In 1993, his business cards were found in the Jersey City, New Jersey apartment that Yousef stayed in while he was involved with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot. Khalifa was first arrested on December 14, 1994 in Mountain View, California, placed in solitary confinement and the contents of his luggage were logged and edited. In 1995 Khalifa was arrested in San Francisco on charges of violating United States immigration laws. He was detained while the Justice Department tried but failed to gather enough information to charge him in connection with suspected terrorist activities. Eventually, he was deported on May 5, 1995 to Jordan, which had an outstanding warrant for him on charges stemming from the bombing of movie theatres in Amman in 1994, for which he had been under a possible death sentence, convicted in absentia. His conviction was later overturned, in a new trial during which he was acquitted. In 1996, Khalifa returned to Saudi Arabia, where he was again arrested after 9/11, but later released. He still lives in Saudi Arabia, where after 9/11 he publicly condemned Osama Bin Laden. Mohammed Jamal Khalifa was assassinated in 2007 in Madagascar.
  • Yeslam bin Ladin studied in the 1970s at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles; settled in Switzerland; became a Swiss citizen c. 2001; Geneva-based head of the family's European holding company, the Saudi Investment Company; was scrutinized by Swiss and American investigators because of a financial stake he has in a Swiss aviation firm; he has claimed to not have had contact with Osama since c. 1981[9]
  • Abdullah bin Laden (born c. 1965); graduate of Harvard Law School; lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 9/11, the only relative to remain in the United States, staying in Boston for almost a month.
  • Shafig bin Laden (Arabic: شفيق بن لادن‎), half-brother of Osama's, was a guest of honour at the Carlyle Group's Washington conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on September 11, 2001, and among the 13 members of the bin Ladin family to leave the United States on September 19, 2001 aboard N521DB.
  • Omar Mohammed Awad bin Laden

Third generation

  • Wafah Dufour bin Laden (born Wafah bin Ladin on May 23, 1979 in Los Angeles, California) is an American model and aspiring singer-songwriter. She spent the early part of her life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Dufour, her little sisters Najia (1979) and Noor (1987), her mother (1954) and her father (born on October 19, 1950) then moved to Geneva, Switzerland. In 1988, her parents separated. She earned a law diploma at Geneva Law School (Switzerland) and later a master's degree from Columbia Law School in the United States. She lived in Manhattan until around the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks, but was staying in Geneva for summer holiday at the time of the attacks. She currently lives in New York City and is working on her first album.
  • Abdulla Osama bin Laden (born c. 1976), son of Osama and Najwa. He is reportedly residing in Saudi Arabia, and is watched over closely by the Saudi government since 1996. Abdallah runs his own firm, called Fame Advertising, in Jeddah;[3] he is closely watched by the Saudi government, which has restricted his travel from the kingdom since 1996; reportedly, he has never disowned his father.[10]
  • Saad bin Laden; (born 1979) son of Osama and Najwa; Saad accompanied Osama on his exile to Sudan from 1991–1996, and then to Afghanistan after that. He is believed to be married to a woman from Yemen. Saad reportedly arrived in Iran in 2002, from Afghanistan with a fake Iranian Passport using the name Saad Mahmoudian, the Customs officer immediately recognized that the passport was fake, he was searched and questioned briefly and notified airport security but did not notitify the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of Iran (which is also responsible for identifying detained people at airports) as he was supposed to. As a result the officer found nothing suspicious about his entrance and permitted him to leave Tehran. He was believed to have been heavily responsible for the bombing of a Tunisian synagogue on April 11, 2002. He was then implicated in the May 12, 2003, suicide bombing in Riyadh, and the Morocco bombing four days later. He is believed to still be in Iran, but others claim he was either arrested or thrown out by the Iranian government to Afghanistan or Pakistan for being the alleged perpetrator of the 2005 Qom Bombings.
  • Omar Osama bin Laden; (born 1980) son of Osama and Najwa; Omar accompanied Osama on his exile to Sudan from 1991–1996, and then to Afghanistan after that. He returned to Saudi Arabia after an apparent falling-out with his father over Omar's disagreement with violence. For a while Omar ran his own company in Jeddah as a contractor. Omar has one son, Ahmed by his ex wife whom he had divorced 3 times by 2006. In September 2006, he married Zaina they are now said to be living in a secret location in Qatar.
  • Mohammad bin Osama bin Laden (born c. 1983), son of Osama and Najwa, married the daughter of al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef in January 2001, at Kandahar, Afghanistan, with footage broadcast by Al-Jazeera, where three of Osama's step-siblings and Osama's mother were in attendance.
  • Hamza bin Laden (1991–), son of Osama. Senior member of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
  • Khaled bin Laden, son of Osama. Killed along with his father at Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 2, 2011.[11]
  • Abdul Aziz bin Laden, manages SBG's Egyptian operations; ranked Number 2 in the 2006 UAE National Superstock Bike Championship.[12]

Family tree

Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (1908–1967)
His sons were:
  1. Salem bin Laden (1946–1988) married Caroline Carey
  2. Ali bin Laden
  3. Thabet bin Laden (d. 2009)
  4. Mahrous bin Laden
  5. Hassan bin Laden
  6. Bakr bin Laden
  7. Khalid bin Laden
  8. Yeslam bin Ladin (b. 1950) married Carmen bin Ladin (b. 1954)
    1. Wafah Dufour (b. 1978)
    2. Najia Dufour (b. 1979)
    3. Noor Dufour (b. 1987)
  9. Ghalib bin Laden
  10. Yahya bin Laden
  11. Abdul Aziz bin Laden
  12. Issa bin Laden
  13. Tarek bin Laden
  14. Ahmed bin Laden
  15. Ibrahim bin Laden
  16. Shafiq bin Laden
  17. Osama bin Laden (1957–2011) married Najwa Ghanem (b. 1960)
  18. Khalil bin Ladin
  19. Saleh bin Ladin
  20. Haider bin Laden
  21. Saad bin Laden
  22. Abdullah bin Laden
  23. Yasser bin Laden
  24. Mohammad bin Laden (b. 1967)

Osama bin Laden's children

Osama bin Laden's known children, from his respective wives, include:

  • Najwa Ghanem
    • Abdullah bin Laden (b. 1976)
    • Abdul Rahman bin Laden (b. 1978)
    • Saad bin Laden (b.1979) reported to have been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan's tribal region in 2009[13]
    • Omar bin Laden (b. 1981) married Zaina Alsabah-Bin laden 2006 to date
    • Osman bin Laden (b. 1983)
    • Mohammed bin Laden (b. 1985)
    • Fatima bin Laden (b. 1987)
    • Iman bin Laden (b. 1990)
    • Laden "Bakr" bin Laden (b. 1993)
    • Rukhaiya bin Laden (b. 1997)
    • Nour bin Laden (b. 1999)
  • Khadijah Sharif
    • Ali bin Laden (b. 1986)
    • Amer bin Laden (b. 1990)
    • Aisha bin Laden (b. 1992)
  • Khairiah Sabar
  • Siham Sabar
    • Kadhija bin Laden (b. 1988–2011)
    • Khalid bin Laden (b. 1989–2011)
    • Miriam bin Laden (b. 1990)
    • Sumaiya bin Laden (b. 1992)
  • Amal al-Sadah
    • Safiyah bin Laden (b. 2001)

The bin Laden flights

At least 13 relatives of Osama bin Laden, accompanied by bodyguards and associates, left the United States on a chartered flight with Ryan International Airlines (Ryan International Flight 441) [14] eight days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to a passenger manifest released on July 21, 2004.[15] The passenger list was made public by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who obtained the manifest from officials at Boston's Logan International Airport. None of the flights, domestic or international, took place before the reopening of national airspace on the morning of Sept. 13 and the 9/11 Commission found "no evidence of a political intervention".[16]

Among the passengers with the bin Laden surname were Omar Awad bin Laden, who had lived with OBL nephew Abdallah Awad bin Laden who was involved in forming the U.S. branch of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in Alexandria, and Shafig bin Laden, a half brother of OBL who was reportedly attending the annual investor conference of the Carlyle Group.[15]

Also on board was Akberali Moawalla, an official with the investment company run by Yeslam bin Ladin, another of Osama bin Laden's half brothers. Records show that a passenger, Kholoud Kurdi, lived in Northern Virginia with a bin Laden relative.[15]

The bin Laden flight has received fresh publicity because it was a topic in Michael Moore's controversial documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The 9/11 Commission found that the "FBI conducted a satisfactory screening of Saudi nationals who left the United States on charter flights. The Saudi government was advised of and agreed to the FBI's requirements that passengers be identified and checked against various databases before the flights departed. The Federal Aviation Administration representative working in the FBI operations center made sure that the FBI was aware of the flights of Saudi nationals and was able to screen the passengers before they were allowed to depart.".[16]


  1. ^ PBS "Frontline"
  2. ^ a b bin Laden, Osama. The History Channel website. Retrieved on April 8, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Steve Coll (December 12, 2005). "Letter From Jedda, Young Osama, How he learned radicalism, and may have seen America". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 5, 2005. 
  4. ^ " News – The making of Osama bin Laden". Retrieved August 21, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Abdullah bin Laden hasiisoososos". Retrieved September 21, 2008 
  6. ^ Kenneth C. Crowe (May 26, 1976). "The Dichotomy of Saudi Arabia". 
  7. ^ Boston Herald, 9/2/01
  8. ^ "Osama claims responsibility for 9/11". The Times of India. May 24, 2006. 
  9. ^ Interview with Osama bin Laden's Brother Yaslam bin Laden
  10. ^ "The House of bin Laden". The New Yorker. November 5, 2001. Retrieved June 20, 2006. 
  11. ^ Scott Wilson, Craig Whitlock, and William Branigin, "Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. raid, buried at sea", The Washington Post, May 2, 2011.
  12. ^ "The pulse-pounding excitement is set to continue at the third Motor Sport Club Raceday.". March 16, 2006. Retrieved September 21, 2008 [dead link]
  13. ^
  14. ^ PENTTBOM Team (April 13, 2007). "Response to October 2003 Vanity Fair Article (Re: Binladen Family Departures After 09/11/2001)". Federal Bureau of Investigation (hosted at JudicialWatch). p. 34. 
  15. ^ a b c Dana Milbank (July 22, 2004). "Plane Carried 13 Bin Ladens: Manifest of Sept. 19, 2001, Flight From U.S. Is Released". Washington Post. p. A07. 
  16. ^ a b 9/11 Commission. "9/11 Commission Report". 

Further reading

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