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Marriages of Osama bin Laden -- Osama bin Laden's Wives

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Osama bin Laden

Terrorist Osama bin Laden is seen in this undated photo in Afghanistan.

Photo: Staff / Getty Images
Osama bin Laden was Public Enemy #1 and the most wanted man in the world. His death raises questions about his personal life and his six marriages. Here is information about his five wives and one annulled marriage.

News Updates:

4/27/2012: After being sentenced to 45 days in prison by a Pakistani court for entering Pakistan illegally, the family of Osama bin Laden was deported by Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.
Asma Alsharif: "Apart from the three widows, the deportees included seven children and four grandchildren."
Source: Asma Alsharif. "Osama Bin Laden Family Deported to Saudi Arabia." Reuters via HuffingtonPost.com. 4/27/2012.

Born:

Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden: March 10, 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Died:

Osama bin Laden: May 1, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was 54 when he was killed by U.S. Special Forces in a secret operation. Bin Laden was buried in the North Arabian Sea.

Occupation:

Osama Bin Laden: Terrorist.

Sixth Wife -- Amal al-Sadah aka Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah:

Born: Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah aka Amal Ahmed al-Sadah aka Amal Ahmed Abdullfattah born abt. 1982 in Yemen.

How Osama and Amal Met: Her brother, who fought along side bin Laden in Afghanistan, suggested Osama, who was thirty years older than Amal, should marry her. Amal reportedly was given to Osama as a gift when she was 15 years old. Time.com states her Yemeni family received $5,000 for the arranged marriage.

Wedding Date:

Bin Laden and Amal were married in 2000 when she was 18 years old.

Children: Amal and Osama are believed to have had one daughter, Safiyah.

Role in May 2011 Raid: Amal Ahmed al-Sadah was NOT used as a human shield when U.S. special forces conducted a raid on bin Laden's secret compound in Abbottabad. According to news reports, Amal made a threatening move toward the U.S. Seals and she was injured in the assault. As of May 3, 2011, she was in Pakistani custody.

Daily Mail Reporter: "After the arranged marriage - made to shore up Bin Laden's political ties to Yemen - however, Amal's family abandoned her to her fate, too afraid to discuss her in public."
Source: Daily Mail Reporter. "Family of Osama's youngest wife speak out." DailyMail.co.uk. 5/09/2011.
Brian Ross: "Bin Laden's wife rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg, but not killed," said White House press secretary Jay Carney ... Amal Ahmed was said to be the youngest, the prettiest and his favorite. In fact, he had divorced one of his older wives to marry her and comply with Islamic law, which limits the number of wives to four."
Source: Brian Ross. "Osama Bin Laden's Young Wife, Wounded in Raid, Identified." ABCNews.go.com. 5/3/2011.
Hala Jaber: "The wedding ceremony in the grounds of a compound was conducted by Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Al-Qaeda’s then chief financial officer, better known as Sheikh Saeed al-Masri. In line with strict Sunni Islamic traditions, it was a men-only affair. The bride was deemed to have consented to the marriage by traveling to Afghanistan, so her presence was not required. The men celebrated with recitals of poetry and song, freshly slaughtered lambs and large dishes of rice. The women, including Amal, held their own more modest party in a house nearby."
Source: Hala Jaber. "Tasked with Finding Osama Bin Laden's fifth bride in Yemen." TimesOnLine.com. 1/24/2010.
Lawrence Wright: "Although the marriage [to Amal al-Sadah] seems to have been a political arrangement between bin Laden and an important Yemeni tribe, meant to boost al-Qaeda recruitment in Yemen, bin Laden's other wives were upset, and even his mother chastised him."
Source: Lawrence Wright. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. 2006. pg. 338.

Fifth Wife -- Annulled:

The bin Laden family does not like to discuss Osama bin Laden's annulment in 1994. He reportedly was married in Khartoum, but the marriage was annulled before it could be consummated within forty-eight hours after the wedding.

Fourth Wife -- Siham Sabar aka Um Khalid aka Umm Khalid:

Born: Siham Sabar was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Wedding Date: Osama bin Laden and Siham Sabar were married in 1987.

Children: Siham and Osama reportedly had four children.

Siham's Occupation: Teacher of Arabic grammar.

Residence: Siham is one of Osama bin Laden's widows found living in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Third Wife -- Khairiah Sabar aka Um Hamza aka Umm Hamza:

Born: Khairiah Sabar was from Jeddah (Jidda), Saudi Arabia.

Wedding Date: Khairiah and Osama were married in 1985. Their marriage was arranged by Osama's first wife Najwa.

Children: Osama and Khairiah reportedly had one son.

Khairiah's Occupation: Has a Ph.d. and is a teacher of deaf-mute children and a child psychologist.

Residence: Khairiah is one of Osama bin Laden's widows found living in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Second Wife -- Khadijah Sharif aka Um Ali aka Umm Ali:

Born: About nine years older than Osama bin Laden, Khadijah Sharif was born in 1948 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Wedding Date: Khadijah Sharif and Osama bin Laden were married in 1983.

Children: Osama and Khadijah reportedly had three children.

Khadijah's Occupation: Teacher of girls.

Divorce: Khadijah divorced Osama between 1993 and 1996.

Najwa: "She was a few years older than Osama, well educated, and a teacher of girls at a school in Jeddah."
Source: Omar bin Laden, Najwa bin Laden. Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World. 2009. pg. 50.

First Wife -- Najwa Ibrahim Ghanem aka Um Abdullah aka Umm Abdullah:

Born: Najwa Ghanem was born in 1958 in Latakia, Syria.

Wedding Date: Osama and Najwa, his first cousin, were married in 1974 at her parents' home in Syria. Although Time.com reports that when they married Najwa was 13 and bin Laden was 19, Najwa reports in her book (page 292) that she was 15 and Osama was 17 at their wedding.

Children: Najwa is reportedly the mother of 11 of Osama's children.

Separation: Najwa left Osama shortly before the 9/11/2001 attacks. Osama bin Laden and Najwa were still estranged at the time of his death. Najwa lives in Syria.

Najwa: "Few women dance with joy when they contemplate sharing their husband with other women".
Source: Niall Firth. "Living with Osama bin Laden: First wife tells of husband's bid to train his sons as suicide bombers." DailyMail.co.uk. 10/13/2009.
Najwa: "On my wedding day, I was young in years but mature and certain in my thoughts. I was not apprehensive."
Source: Omar bin Laden, Najwa bin Laden. Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World. 2009. pg. 13.
Omar bin Laden: "The position of the first wife is prestigious in my culture, and that prestige is tripled when the first wife is a first cousin and mother of a first son. Rarely does a Muslim man divorce a wife who is a cousin and the mother of the firstborn son. My parents were bound by blood, marriage, and parenthood."
Source: Omar bin Laden, Najwa bin Laden. Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World. 2009. pg. 41.
Peter Bergen: "Carmen Bin Ladin, who knew her in the 1970s, describes Najwa as 'meek, submissive, highly religious and constantly pregnant.'"
Source: Peter Bergen. The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader. 2006. pg. 402.
Lawrence Wright: "After eleven children and twenty-seven years of marriage, she [Najwa] decided to return to Syria, taking her daughters and her retarded son, Abdul Rahman, with her. The man she had married was not a mujahid or an international terrorist; he was a rich Saudi teenager. The life she might have expected as bin Laden's wife was one of wealth, travel, society; an easy existence made more comfortable with the usual retinue of servants, a beach house, a yacht, perhaps an apartment in Paris. This was the minimum. Instead, she had lived a life on the run, deprived, often in squalor. She had sacrificed so much, but now she was free."
Source: Lawrence Wright. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. 2006. pg. 338.

Quotes About the Marriages of Osama bin Laden:

Tim McGirk: "During his last days in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bin Laden had to contend with three wives and 17 noisy children under one roof ... Under Islam, polygamy is allowed but only if the husband is able to treat all his wives equally. Muslim law also states that a man may have only four wives at a time ... Judging by the blueprints of the Abbottabad compound, bin Laden tried to keep his three families separate but equal. Each wife and her children were allotted their own floor, and bin Laden would spend time with each group."
Source: Tim McGirk. "Big Love in Abbottabad: How Osama bin Laden Kept Three Wives Under One Roof." Time.com. 5/12/2011.

"In the report’s account, Ms. Fateh said she agreed to marry Bin Laden in 2000 because “she had a desire of marrying a mujahid.” She flew into Karachi in July that year and, months later, crossed into Afghanistan to join Bin Laden and two other wives at his base on a farm outside Kandahar."
Source: Declan Walsh. "In Hiding, Bin Laden Had Four Children and Five Houses." NYTimes.com. 3/29/2012.

"Osama Bin Laden spent his last days as a henpecked husband. The Al Qaeda leader succeeded in hiding from the Americans for a decade following 9/11...but apparently could not escape his warring wives. All three lived with him in his three-storey Pakistani hideout along with eight children and five grandchildren."
Source: Mail Foreign Service. "Three's a crowd! How Osama Bin Laden's multiple wives squabbled over favouritism and betrayal inside Pakistani compound." DailyMail.co.uk. 3/08/2012.

Daily Mail Reporter: "Osama bin Laden spent his last weeks in a house divided by his three suspicious wives who jealously vied for the al-Qaeda leader’s affections ... Trouble arose when his eldest wife, Saudi-born Khairiah Saber, showed up in early 2011 and moved into the bedroom on the floor below. The eldest and youngest wives did not get on over bin Laden’s perceived favouritism of Amal."
Source: "Three's a crowd: Bin Laden's three wives jealously squabble over favouritism and betrayal." DailyMail.co.uk. 3/7/2012.

Carlotta Gall about bin Laden's wives' cloistered lives: "In line with the strict code of Islam followed by Bin Laden, they never met men outside their immediate family and were not informed by bin Laden of any of his business or operational dealings ... In answers to emailed questions forwarded by Ms. Sasson, an American writer, Omar bin Laden said his father kept his wives, and often his children, sequestered inside the house. His mother Najwa would sneak into the garden when Osama bin Laden was away, warning the children not to tell their father she had dared step outside the house. The children, too, rarely were permitted to go outside."
Source: Carlotta Gall. "U.S. Still Waits for Access to Bin Laden Widows." NYTimes.com. 5/10/2011.

Manal Omar: "Fulfilling the desires of the male leader or husband in the family is a very important duty for women [in Islam] ... Women clearly are attracted to the message of Osama and to have the opportunity to be within his family would be appealing, even for some of the educated women."
Source: Brian Ross, Avni Patel, Desiree Adib. "Osama Bin Laden's Matchmaker: Real Housewives of Abbottabad." ABCNews.go.com. 5/10/2011.

Brian Ross: "By the time bin Laden moved to his mansion in Abbottabad, he was left only with Amal Ahmed, he had divorced one of his other wives, and three others had moved to Syria."
Source: Brian Ross. "Osama Bin Laden's Young Wife, Wounded in Raid, Identified." ABCNews.go.com. 5/3/2011.

Osama bin Laden on managing multiple marriages: "One is okay, like walking. Two is like riding a bicycle: it's fast but a little unstable. Three is a tricycle, stable but slow. And when we come to four, ah! This is the ideal. Now you can pass everyone!"
Source: Lawrence Wright. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. 2006. pg. 82.

AS, one of Osama bin Laden's wives: "We did not live in one house. Each wife lived in her own house. There were two wives in Kandahar, each with her own house. The third wife had a house in Kabul, and the fourth in the Tora Bora mountains."
Source: Khalid Nasr. "He rarely eats meat but likes to go hunting." Guardian.co.uk. 3/15/2002.

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