Story of `the other bin Ladens`

Osama is said to have had six wives and over 20 children.

Updated: May 07, 2011, 00:17 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: With the United States of America giving a quite sea burial to the most wanted terrorist in the world, the extended family with bin Laden as last name will hope to turn a fresh page in their personal lives.

Osama bin Laden’s family is one of the Middle East’s richest families and has made its fortune mainly from their construction business run under the Saudi BinLadin Group (SBG) name.

As things stand, not many in Osama’s extended family are mourning his death with many members of his family on record saying that he had disgraced the bin Laden name.

Family’s patriarch Sheikh Mohammed Bin Laden - Osama’s father – of Yemeni descent was someone known to be influential owing to his proximity to the Saudi King.

He is reported to have married 22 times.

After Mohammed bin Laden was killed in a plane crash in 1967, his son Salem took over the family business. Salem too was a close friend of Saudi King Fahd and also had business connections with George W Bush, who would go on to later become the President of the United States.

Unfortunately, like his father, in 1988, Salem also died in a plane crash. After his demise the business was succeeded by his American educated brother, Bakr. He is still the head of SBG and is considered by many as one of the most influential in Jeddah. Many of Osama’s brothers and half-brothers are also on the SBG board.

The family also has shareholdings in big companies like Microsoft and Boeing, through the family’s Geneva-based equity arm, the Saudi Investment Company. This company is headed by another of Osama’s half-brothers, Yeslam bin Laden, who lives in Switzerland and is a citizen of that country.

Osama himself is said to have had six wives and over 20 children.

One of the most talked is his fourth born, named Omar. As a child he is said to have lived in the caves in Sudan and Afghanistan.

But later on he shunned al Qaeda and subsequently married a British interior designer Zaina, some 25 years elder to him. But Britian denied him a visa.

But there are other sons of Osama who might follow in his footsteps. They are the ones who once again present a threat to the family name and give the US and the rest of the world something to ponder over.

One of them, Khalid bin Laden, was declared by the Americans to have been killed by the Special Forces during the raid on Osama’s mansion in Pakistan. But no one knows for sure the whereabouts of Osama’s other sons who were said to be hiding with their father.

Another of Osama’s sons Saad bin Laden is said to be around 32 years old. No one is sure whether he is alive or not. Some reports suggests that he was one of the several family members who fled across the Iranian border after the Americans invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

It is also said that many of Osama’s family members are still under house arrest in Iran. On the other hand, one of the many conflicting reports say that Saad, an active member of al Qaeda, was released or escaped to return to be in the thick of action.

Later he was reported to have been killed in a CIA drone attack on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Nonetheless his death remained unconfirmed with many claiming that he was unharmed.

But amongst the new generation of the bin Laden clan who was considered to the worthy successor of his father Osama and potentially be the next al Qaeda chief was Hamza but he was killed in the US operation in Abbottabad.