Omar bin Laden

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Omar bin Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (Arabic: عمر بن أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن‎, ʿUmar bin ʾUsāmah bin Muḥammad bin ʿAwaḍ bin Lādin; born 1981), better known as Omar bin Laden, is one of the sons of Osama bin Laden and his first wife and first cousin Najwa Ghanem[1] (see Bin Laden family). He is the 4th eldest son[2] among twenty children of Osama bin Laden.[3] Older reports have described him and his brother Abdullah bin Laden as nephews or cousins of Osama bin Laden.[4]


Bin Laden was born the grandson of Muhammed bin Awad bin Laden, the founder of one of the wealthiest non-royal families in Saudi Arabia,[5] and the son of Osama bin Laden, whose partisan activities shaped his childhood. Bin Laden accompanied his father on his exile to Sudan from 1991 to 1996, and then to Afghanistan after that.[6] He said that he trained in al-Qaeda camps beginning at the age of 14, but after training with al-Qaeda for 6 years and sharing a house with al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, he left al-Qaeda in 2000 because he did not want to be associated with killing civilians and his father Osama did not object.[7][8][9] In 2009 Omar bin Laden had a severe injury including a broken arm and a fractured ankle. It is believed that his eyes are a very deep shade of brown.

In 2010, Omar bin Laden told ABC News that Osama had severely beaten him when he was a child for smiling too widely.[10]

Adult life[edit]

Osama Bin Laden was in Saudi Arabia when the September 11 attacks occurred.[7] A special chartered flight to Saudi Arabia, embarking eight days after the September 11th attacks, carried 13 bin Laden relatives including Omar Awad bin Laden, described as a nephew of Osama bin Laden living with Omar's cousin Abdullah bin Laden, founder of WAMY, out of the United States [11][12]

Bin Laden runs his own company in Jeddah as a contractor and scrap metal dealer.[2] Jeddah, a major city and important transit port for Saudi Arabia, is the site of the headquarters of the Saudi Binladen Group and has been reported to be "truly" ruled by Bakr bin Laden.[13]

Marriage to Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah[edit]

He married Jane Felix-Browne, who also goes by the name Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah, a parish councillor from Moulton, near Northwich in Cheshire in the United Kingdom, in September 15th 2006.[14] The marriage was conducted in September 2006 in Islamic ceremonies in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, after which the couple spent a few months together in Jeddah before Zaina returned to Britain for several weeks.[15] Zaina has been married five times previously, beginning with a Saudi man at the age of 16, who introduced her to several members of the bin Laden family.[16] She believes she met Osama bin Laden at a party in London in the 1970s.[2]

It has been reported that Felix-Browne met bin Laden while she was undergoing treatment for multiple sclerosis.[17][18] They met on a horseback ride at the Giza pyramids in Egypt.[6] She is his second wife and is 24 years older than he is, with five grandchildren.[14] She was aware when she married Omar that he was already married, with a two-year-old son.[2]

After their wedding, Al-Sabah described the stress of bin Laden's family background: "Omar is wary of everyone. He is constantly watching people who he feels might be following him. Not without reason he is fearful of cameras. He is the son of Osama. But when we are together he forgets his life." The couple announced their divorce in September 2007, which was said to be in response to threats to their "lives and liberty" from two unspecified sources known to them in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Al-Sabah said she didn't regard herself as divorced and that the divorce under duress did not have legal standing under Sharia law.[19] After 2 weeks, Zaina and Omar decided not to part.

In January 2008,[20] bin Laden applied for a British spousal immigration visa which would have permitted him to reside indefinitely at his wife's home in Moulton, Cheshire, a process which required him to provide original documentation of his divorce from his first wife. The couple stated their desire to have a child using a surrogate mother.[21] One report stated the visa application was denied because Omar failed to provide his father's permanent address.[22] However, a later report by The Times of Omar's appeal stated that the visa had been denied by an entry clearance officer at the British embassy in Cairo because Omar's entry would cause "considerable public concern." The officer was quoted, "I note that statements made during recent media interviews indicate evidence of continuing loyalty to your father, and your presence in the UK could, therefore, cause considerable public concern." This written statement was shown to The Associated Press by the couple's legal firm, but Britain's Home Office declined to comment to the press on an individual case. In April 2008,[23] bin Laden and Al-Sabah said they planned to appeal the ruling, calling it "unjust and arbitrary", stating that Al-Sabah requires medical attention in Britain and that her appeal to live with him in Saudi Arabia could take years to process. As of April 2008, bin Laden has a house in Cairo.

In April 2010, bin Laden was denied a visa to promote his book "Osama bin laden: A Family Portrait" in France and elsewhere in Europe. Specifically, the countries of the Schengen zone, a block of 25 nations across Europe including Germany, France and Spain, had decided to reject his request for a visa.[24][25]

In July 2010, Jane Felix-Browne told the media that bin Laden is bipolar and that he was in a Qatari mental institution after hearing voices.[26][27] Felix-Browne told the media that when bin Laden returned to the UK, Felix-Browne told him she wanted a divorce.

North African horse race[edit]

Dakar Rally track through the Mauritanian Sahara, 2005

Widespread news coverage beginning with an Associated Press interview in Cairo, Egypt on January 11, 2008 has featured bin Laden with cornrows and a black leather biker jacket promoting a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) horse race for peace across North Africa.[28] The race is in the planning stages, awaiting approval from governments along the route and sponsors to provide money to benefit child victims of war. The plan calls for the race to proceed 30-mile (48 km) each day, with week-long rests in each country.[29] It is scheduled to begin in March. PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk has called for the cancellation of the race in an "urgent letter" from the organization, predicting that the gruelling race would lead to fatalities among the horses.[30][31] PETA has reported that the bin Ladens have emailed correspondence stating that the horse race will not be conducted in summer or in the midday sun and that veterinary care will be provided.[32]

Omar describes the race as an equine counterpart to the cancelled 2008 Paris-Dakar car rally, saying, "I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida. I don't think they are going to stop me."[6][33] The race was canceled after the killings of four French tourists near Aleg, Mauritania on Christmas Eve 2007.[34] Following the murders race organizers received threats directly from heavily armed and organized groups linked to al-Qaeda, which led them to cancel the race on January 4, 2008 and soon after to plan the 2009 event for South America.[35][36] Police in Guinea-Bissau said that two of five men arrested for the crime on January 11, 2008 admitted al-Qaeda involvement.[37]

Relationship to his father and al-Qaeda[edit]

Bin Laden has said he was critical of his father Osama bin Laden and has said that his father felt that he was just trying to defend the Islamic world,[6] and that his father was not a terrorist "because history tells you he's not".[8] In an interview with ABC News he said, "My father is very kind man. And he very sorry when he do something like 11th September." Osama ordered the attacks "Because he believes if he put two buildings down, maybe some people, little will die, but millions other will (be) save(d). He believed that. ... I believe he did it the wrong".[9] In a January 21, 2008 CNN interview, he said "I try and say to my father: 'Try to find another way to help or find your goal. This bomb, this weapons, it's not good to use it for anybody". Regarding the September 11 attacks he said, "I don't think 9/11 was right personally, but it happened. I don't think ... [the war] in Vietnam was right. I don't think what's going on in Palestine is right. I don't think what's going on in Iraq is right. If we make what is right and not right, we will make a very big list."[7]

Bin Laden stated that he had not been in contact with his father since leaving Afghanistan in 2000.[38] He has said, "The last time I saw my father was in 2000, 2001. I was in Saudi Arabia and felt a terrible sorrow for all the victims [of the September 11 attacks]", "My father has a kind heart", and "I do not believe my father is dead, otherwise I would have known it; the world would have known it."[39] When asked whether he would tell the Americans if he found out where his father was living, he said with a smile, "Actually, I would hide him. Because he is my father."[9]

According to Time magazine's website, bin Laden has stated a desire to become an "ambassador of peace" between Muslims and the West.[40] Omar has said that Osama bin Laden offered a truce to Europe in a 2004 videotape and a conditional truce with the United States in a 2006 videotape, and believes a truce is possible. "My father is asking for a truce but I don't think there is any government (that) respects him. At the same time they do not respect him, why everywhere in the world, they want to fight him? There is a contradiction."[41] The truces offered in these videos of Osama bin Laden were promptly rejected at the time.[42][43][44]

After arriving in Rome from Switzerland amid heavy security on February 2, bin Laden said in a television interview that night "I would very much like to meet the Pope in St Peter's, but I have been told that it is not easy."[39]

Asylum petitions[edit]

On November 3, 2008, Spain's Interior Ministry, upon recommendation by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, denied, for "insufficient evidence of danger or threat to [his] life", Omar's political asylum petition, after he was refused a UK visa. Omar, 27, had 24 hours to appeal, after he made his claim at Madrid's Barajas International Airport upon a stopover on a flight from Cairo, Egypt to Casablanca, Morocco.[45][46][47]

Bin Laden and his wife arrived in Doha, Qatar (where, as a Saudi citizen with Saudi passport, he would have right of entry), on November 9, 2008, after deportation by Egypt per its denial of their entry.

Omar filed another British visa petition.[48][49][50]


Bin Laden and his mother Najwa bin Laden published a book authored with Jean Sasson in late October 2009, titled Growing Up bin Laden. According to media coverage, the book details that "the kids grew up in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Afghanistan without laughter or toys, were routinely beaten, and lost their pets to painful death from poison gas experiments by their father's fighters." It states that Osama bin Laden tried to persuade his son to volunteer for suicide missions and exposed him to dangerous conditions visiting training camps in Afghanistan and sending him to the front lines of the Afghan civil war. The book describes the family living in Jeddah without air conditioning or refrigeration, treating asthma with honeycombs and onions, and eventually moving to stone huts in Tora Bora without electricity or running water in 1996. Subsequent correspondence with the Associated Press indicated that 25 bin Laden family members had moved to Iran, following U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.[51][52][53][54][55]

Death of his father[edit]

Further information: Death of Osama bin Laden

Bin Laden published a complaint on May 10, 2011, that the burial at sea of his father Osama deprived the family of a proper burial.[56]


  1. ^ Farah, Douglas; Priest, Dana (2003-10-14). "Bin Laden Son Plays Key Role in Al Qaeda". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-20.  [title refers to Saad bin Laden ]
  2. ^ a b c d David Brown (2007-07-11). "Briton marries bin Laden’s son". The Times (London). 
  3. ^ "Bin Laden's braided peacenik son on a mission". CNN. 2008-01-18. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Profile:Omar bin Laden". 
  5. ^ Michael Petrou (2007-03-19). "Happy 50th, Osama: More than five years since 9/11, bin Laden, at mid-life, terrorizes us still". 
  6. ^ a b c d Paul Schemm (2008-01-17). "Bin Laden Son Wants to Be Pe Activist". Bismarck Tribune. 
  7. ^ a b c Aneesh Raman (2008-01-21). "Bin Laden's son to father: Change your ways". CNN. 
  8. ^ a b Tom Leonard (2008-01-23). "Osama bin Laden's son asks 'find another way'". London: 
  9. ^ a b c Nick Watt (2008-01-21). "Bin Laden's Son Wants to Make Up for Father's 'Mistake'". ABC News. 
  10. ^ Omar Bin Laden: Mental Illness Caused by Genes or Stress? - ABC News
  11. ^ "Plane carried 13 bin Ladens". Washington Post. 2004-07-22. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Senator Lautenberg Releases Passenger Manifest of ' Bin Laden Family Airlift' Out of U.S. One Week After 9/11 Attack". 
  13. ^ Georg Mascolo and Erich Follath (2005-06-06). "Osama's Road to Riches and Terror". 
  14. ^ a b "Councillor weds Bin Laden's son". BBC News Online. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  15. ^ "U.K. divorcee reportedly marries bin Laden son". 2007-07-11. 
  16. ^ BBC One - Mr and Mrs Bin Laden
  17. ^ "British woman says she wed Osama's son". USA Today. 2007-07-11. 
  18. ^ "Brit bin Laden "Bahu" Raises Eyebrows". 
  19. ^ "Briton to divorce bin Laden's son". BBC News Online. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  20. ^ "Bin Laden's son wants a visa - so he and his grandmother bride can live in Cheshire and have a surrogate baby". Daily Mail (London). 2008-01-13. 
  21. ^ "Bin Laden's son applies for British visa". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-01-14. 
  22. ^ "British Divorcee Marries Son Of Osama Bin Laden". CBS. 2007-07-11. 
  23. ^ "Bin Laden's son plans legal challenge to battle for UK visa". Daily Mail (London). 2008-04-30. 
  24. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2010-04-15). "France: Bin Laden Son Is Denied Visa". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ Bin Laden's Son Denied Visa for European Book Tour - FOX 13 News
  26. ^ Sloan, Jenna. "Omar bin Laden’s wife on why they split up – The Sun –Features". The Sun (London). 
  27. ^ "Bin Laden's son and British wife split after he heard 'Osama's voice in his head'". Daily Mail (London). 2010-07-09. 
  28. ^ "Bin Laden Son Wants to Be Peace Activist". 
  29. ^ "Bin Laden Jr.: "Ambassador For Peace"". CBS News. 2008-01-18. 
  30. ^ "PETA urges Laden’s son to cancel horse race". 2008-02-04. 
  31. ^ "People: Kylie Minogue, James Blunt, Emma Thompson". The Times (London). 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20.  (Collection of news shorts)
  32. ^ "PETA Media Center:Group Wants Horses Out, but Son of America's Most Sought-After Foe Will Provide Horse Ambulances and More". 
  33. ^ Schemm, Paul (2008-01-19). "Omar Osama bin Laden organising horse race for peace". Herald Sun. 
  34. ^ "Tourists shot dead in Mauritania". BBC. 2007-12-24. 
  35. ^ "Terror threat leads to cancellation of Dakar Rally". 
  36. ^ "Dakar Rally to Relocate to South America?". 
  37. ^ "Bissau extradites al Qaeda suspects to Mauritania". 
  38. ^ "Bin Laden son: I am for peace". New York Post. 2008-01-18. [dead link]
  39. ^ a b "Bin Laden wants to meet pope". 2008-02-05. 
  40. ^ "Friday, Jan. 18, 2008 - Quotes of the Day". Time. 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  41. ^ "Osama's son wants to be peace ambassador between West and Muslims". 
  42. ^ "UK 'Bin Laden' offers Europe truce". BBC. 2004-04-15. 
  43. ^ "Europe: No deal with bin Laden". CNN. 2004-04-15. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  44. ^ "U.S. rejects bin Laden tape's 'truce' offer". CNN. 2006-01-20. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  45. ^, Bin Laden son asylum bid rejected
  46. ^, Spain: Asylum Denied to One of bin Laden’s Sons
  47. ^, Bin Laden son loses asylum plea
  48. ^, Bin Laden son, rejected by Egypt, arrives in Qatar
  49. ^, Egypt Refuses Entry to Bin Laden's Son
  50. ^, Osama bin Laden's son in Qatar after being deported from Egypt
  51. ^ Andrew Lee Butters (2009-10-07). "Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Son Speaks". Time Magazine. 
  52. ^ Susannah Calahan (2009-10-11). "Tales from the Bin Laden clan:Wife and son bare secrets of terror kingpin". New York Post. 
  53. ^ Donna Abu-Nasr (2010-01-06). "Osama bin Laden's family, parenting exposed in son's book". 
  54. ^ "Son of Osama bin Laden describes brutal childhood". Associated Press. 2010-01-10. 
  55. ^ Growing Up Bin Laden:Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World, Jean Sasson, Omar bin Laden, and Najwa bin Laden (St. Martin's Press) 2009. ISBN 978-0-312-56016-4, ISBN 0-312-56016-8
  56. ^ "Statement From the Family of Osama bin Laden", May 10, 2011, New York Times

External links[edit]