Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden may be dead (per unconfirmed reports from NBC News), but he was just one of the terrorist leader’s many children.
According to NBC News, Hamza bin Laden was Osama bin Laden’s heir. The U.S. report on July 31, 2019 is based on intel, but does not say where or how Hamza bin Laden, who had not given a statement since 2018, supposedly died.
However, bin Laden – who had at least six wives – left behind many offspring, including numerous sons.
Here’s what you need to know about bin Laden’s children and family:
1. Osama bin Laden Had At Least 20 Children & Many Wives
Osama bin Laden left behind a large number of offspring, as he had many wives. According to USA Today, the terrorist leader is believed to “have fathered at least 20 children from half a dozen wives.” According to USA Today, it’s believed that Hamza bin Laden was a favorite of his dad’s.
One of Osama bin Laden’s many children and one of his wives, Najwa and Omar bin Laden, wrote a book called, Growing Up bin Laden: Osama’s Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World. According to an excerpt of the book in Vanity Fair, Omar wrote, “I’m pleased that my mother, Najwa Ghanem, who was my father’s first cousin, was his first wife…My parents were bound by blood, marriage, and parenthood.”
He added, “As the son of Osama bin Laden, I am truly sorry for all the terrible things that have happened, the innocent lives that have been destroyed, the grief that still lingers in many hearts.” Omar was the fourth born son of Osama bin Laden. Rolling Stone reported that Omar was supposed to be bin Laden’s successor but abandoned the idea and his mother asked to leave as a result. Omar’s mother, a Syrian woman who married bin Laden at age 16, gave birth to 11 of bin Laden’s children, according to The Guardian, which added that several of the children had disabilities, possibly because Najwa and Osama were cousins.
According to Rolling Stone, 11 of bin Laden’s children were sons. In 2010, Rolling Stone reported that, at that time, Omar “is the only bin Laden son to publicly disavow his father’s violence.”
The Guardian reports that two of bin Laden’s daughters, half-sisters Khadija and Fatima, were married in a double wedding at age 12. The Guardian reported that Osama wanted as many children as he could have for “Islam.” According to Thought.co, bin Laden’s son Abdullah ran “a firm called Fame Advertising in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.” His son Saad may have been killed by a drone strike.
Four of bin Laden’s children were born after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, two in Pakistani hospitals, according to Radio Free Europe. That site says bin Laden’s number of children may be 26, and that some of them fled to Iran.
2. There Was a $1 Million Reward for Information Leading to Hamza bin Laden, the Terrorist’s Reputed Heir
In March 2019, USA Today reported that it was believed Hamza bin Laden had become his father’s heir to the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda. In response, the State Department had announced a $1 million reward.
According to the State Department, Hamza bin Laden “is the son of deceased former al-Qa’ida leader Usama bin Laden and is emerging as a leader in the al-Qa’ida franchise. He has released audio and video messages on the Internet, calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its Western allies, and he has threatened attacks against the United States in revenge for the May 2011 killing of his father by U.S. military forces.”
Hamza bin Laden, the State Department says, was “married to a daughter of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an al-Qa’ida senior leader who was indicted and charged by a federal grand jury in November 1998 for his role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. A video of Hamza’s wedding was found in Usama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound and released by the CIA in 2017. Letters seized from the compound, where bin Laden was killed, indicate that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader of al-Qa’ida.”
The State Department says that Hamza bin Laden was born in 1989 or 1986 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He held Saudi Arabian citizenship and was affiliated with al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia later revoked his citizenship, however.
“Al-Qa’ida and its supporters conducted three bombings targeting U.S. troops in Aden in December 1992, and claimed responsibility for shooting down U.S. helicopters and killing U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993,” the State Department page for Hamza says. “Al-Qa’ida also carried out the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing up to 300 individuals and injuring more than 5,000. In October 2000, al-Qa’ida conducted a suicide attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen with an explosive-laden boat, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39 others”
On September 11, 2001, of course, “19 al-Qa’ida members hijacked and crashed four U.S. commercial jets – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and one into a field in Pennsylvania,” says the State Department.”Nearly 3,000 civilians, police, and first responders were killed. The dead included U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from at least 77 countries.”
3. Osama bin Laden Was Born to a Construction Billionaire Who Had At Least 50 Children
Osama bin Laden was born in 1957 in Saudi Arabia to a father who made billions of dollars in the construction industry and his 10th wife, according to Biography.com.
Biography.com gives the parents’ names as Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden and Alia Ghanem, who was born in Syria. Bin Laden’s name at birth was Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden. USA Today puts bin Laden’s dad’s children tally even higher, at 52.
However, bin Laden was the only child born of his parents, and he moved with his mother and stepfather, living with step-siblings, when his parents got divorced, according to Biography.com.
As a result of the fact that bin Laden had at least 49 siblings, his extended family is vast. Biography.com reports that bin Laden’s father was highly respected in his hometown because he once paid “all civil servants’ wages” for six months in Jeddah and earned many government contracts, including to put extensions on mosques.
In 2018, bin Laden’s mother spoke to the Guardian. “My life was very difficult because he was so far away from me,” she said of her son. “He was a very good kid and he loved me so much.” She claimed to be upset that he turned to terrorism, telling the Guardian, “We were extremely upset. I did not want any of this to happen. Why would he throw it all away like that?”
4. Osama bin Laden Sent His Wives & Children Away from Kandahar the Day Before September 11, 2001
The Guardian reports that Osama bin Laden told his wives and younger children to pack suitcases and leave Kandahar the day before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
They ended up in a training camp in Afghanistan that his son, Saad, had labeled “Star Wars,” Guardian reports. The women were forbidden from speaking with male guards, the site reports, and they were told to blow themselves up if necessary.
According to the Guardian, bin Laden eventually divorced his second wife Khadijah, and his third wife, Khairiah, was his first wife Najwa’s suggestion. Khairiah was Hamza’s mother, Guardian reports. Bin Laden’s fourth wife was named Seham (sometimes given as Siham), and his fifth was Amal al-Sadeh (sometimes given as al-Sadah). He had four children with Seham and five with Amal, according to the Guardian. Amal was in the Pakistan compound where bin Laden was shot and killed. There was also a sixth wife but the marriage was annulled quickly, ThoughtCo reports.
Amal and her daughter with bin Laden, 12-year-old Safiya, were injured in the raid that killed the terrorist.
5. Osama bin Laden Had Many Extended Family Members in the United States at the Time of the September 11 Attacks
The bin Laden family is extensive, connected, and wealthy. According to The New Yorker, about “two dozen” members of the bin Laden family were in America at the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, mostly studying “in colleges and prep schools.”
The quickness with which the extended family fled the U.S., fearing reprisals, caused controversy. The New Yorker reports “they were quickly called together by officials from the Saudi Embassy… With approval from the F.B.I…the bin Ladens flew by private jet from Los Angeles to Orlando, then on to Washington, and finally to Boston.”
According to the New Yorker, “once the F.A.A. permitted overseas flights, the jet flew to Europe. United States officials apparently needed little persuasion from the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, that the extended bin Laden family included no material witnesses.”
The family had long before signed a statement disavowing Osama bin Laden.