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Osama bin Laden Fast Facts


Here’s a look at Osama bin Laden, the former leader of al Qaeda who was killed in 2011.


Birth date: 1957

Death date: May 2, 2011

Birth place: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Birth name: Osama bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Laden

Father: Muhammad Awad bin Laden, construction company executive

Mother: Hamida al-Attas

Marriages and Children:

Married to Najwa (1974-separated days before 9/11), and had children Abdullah (1976), Abdul Rahman (1978), Sa’ad(1979), Omar (1981), Osman (1983), Muhammad (1985), Fatima (1987), Iman (1990), Ladin “Bakir” (1993), Rukhaiya (1997), and Nour (1999 or 2000)

Married to Khadijah (1983-1995, divorced), and had children Ali (1984 or 1986), Amer (1990) and Aisha (1992)

Married to Khairiah (1985-2011, his death), and had child Hamza (1989 or 1991)

Married to Siham (1987-2011, his death), and had children Kadhija (1988), Khalid (1989), Miriam (1990) and Sumaiya (1992)

Married to an unknown woman (1996, annulled within days)

Married to Amal (2000-2011, his death), and had children Safiyah (2001), Aasia (2003), Ibrahim (2004), Zainab (2006) and Hussain (2008)

Education: King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, engineering, 1979

Religion: Sunni Muslim

Other Facts

Bin Laden was the 17th of 52 children of construction magnate Muhammad Awad bin Laden, an immigrant from neighboring Yemen, who ran the company Saudi Binladin Group.

Muhammad Awad bin Laden became a billionaire by building his company into the largest construction firm in the Saudi kingdom.

Bin Laden married for the first time at age 17, to a Syrian cousin, Najwa.

Reportedly walked with a cane and suffered from kidney disease.


1979 – Travels to Afghanistan to join the jihad (holy war) against the Soviet Union. He remains there for a decade, using construction equipment from his family’s business to help the Muslim guerrilla forces build shelters, tunnels and roads through the rugged Afghan mountains, and at times taking part in battle.

1988 – Bin Laden founds al Qaeda (or “the base”), a militant group with a core goal of waging global jihad.

1989 – The Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan. Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia to work for the family construction firm, the Saudi Binladin Group.

August 7, 1990 – Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, US troops arrive in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden is reportedly outraged at their presence, and soon begins to target the United States for its presence near the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

1991 – Bin Laden is expelled by the Saudi regime. Eventually he and his followers relocate to Sudan, taking assets that had grown to an estimated $250 million, according to some officials (others estimate a much lower value).

December 1992 – US forces land in Somalia, spearheading a UN-authorized humanitarian plan to bring in famine relief supplies. Part of their challenge is disarming the various warlords who control the country. Prosecutors charge that bin Laden threw himself into the midst of this conflict, sending some of his followers to Somalia to train the warlords to fight the US troops.

February 26, 1993A bomb explodes at the World Trade Center in New York, killing six and wounding hundreds. Six Muslim radicals, who US officials suspect have links to bin Laden, are eventually convicted for the bombing. Although bin Laden is named as a possible unindicted co-conspirator, investigators do not recover conclusive evidence that the al Qaeda leader orchestrated the attack.

October 1993 – Eighteen US servicemen, part of a humanitarian mission to Somalia, die in an ambush perpetrated by militants who reportedly trained with al Qaeda.

1994 – The Saudi government officially strips bin Laden of citizenship, freezing all remaining assets he has in the country. His family disowns him.

1996 – Sudan expels bin Laden. He moves with his children and wives to Afghanistan, where he receives harbor from the Taliban. The United States indicts bin Laden on charges of training the people involved in the 1993 attack that killed 18 US servicemen in Somalia.

1997 – In his first interview with Western media, bin Laden tells Peter Bergen that the United States is “unjust, criminal and tyrannical.” He says, “The US today, as a result of the arrogant atmosphere, has set a double standard, calling whoever goes against its injustice a terrorist. It wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose on us agents to rule us.” Bin Laden also tells Bergen that “Arab holy warriors” trained in Afghanistan banded with Somali Muslims in 1993 to kill 18 US soldiers in Somalia.

February 1997 – According to court documents, bin Laden orders the militarization of the East African cell of al Qaeda, a move that culminates in the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998, eight years to the day after US troops landed in the Saudi kingdom.

1998 – Bin Laden’s al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad under Ayman al- Zawahiri merge, according to US prosecutors.

February 1998 – Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri endorse a fatwa under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders.” This fatwa, published in the newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, on February 23, 1998, states that Muslims should kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world where they can be found.

May 29, 1998 – Bin Laden issues a statement entitled “The Nuclear Bomb of Islam,” under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Fighting the Jews and Crusaders,” in which he states that “it is the duty of Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorize the enemies of God.”

August 7, 1998 – A pair of truck bombs explode outside the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.

November 1998 – Is indicted by the United States on 224 counts of murder for the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

June 7, 1999 – Appears for the first time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

October 12, 2000 – Bin Laden is linked to an attack/bombing on the USS Cole in Yemen that kills 17 sailors and injures 39.

2000 – Algerian Ahmed Ressam pleads guilty in connection with a failed plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. He claims he was trained in urban warfare and explosives at an Afghanistan camp run by bin Laden.

May 29, 2001 – Four of bin Laden’s alleged supporters are convicted of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Africa.

September 2001 – Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, the US government names bin Laden as a prime suspect.

December 25, 2001 – The Pakistan Observer publishes details of bin Laden’s alleged funeral. On the front page, the newspaper reports that an unnamed Taliban leader said bin Laden “had a peaceful natural death in mid-December in the vicinity” of the Tora Bora mountains. The report says that his death was the result of a “serious lung complication…He was laid to rest honorably in his last abode” in a grave prepared according to the beliefs of the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam to which the Qaeda leader belonged, the report said.

December 27, 2001 – Afghan officials report that bin Laden is in Pakistan with al Qaeda sympathizers.

January 18, 2002Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf says that Osama bin Laden might have died of kidney failure in Afghanistan after becoming separated from a dialysis machine he had used in recent years.

March 9, 2002 – A Saudi-owned publication quotes one of bin Laden’s wives as saying her personal belief is that he is living. The woman, identified only as A.S., said she “feels deep down that he’s still alive and that the whole world would have known if he had been killed. Osama’s death cannot be hidden.”

May 17, 2002 – A Saudi-owned newspaper publishes quotes from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in which he states “Sheikh Osama is still alive, praise God, and this is causing anguish to (US President George W. Bush) who promised his people to kill Osama, not knowing that lives are in the hands of God.”

June 12, 2002 – A Russian newspaper publishes what it claims is an interview with Mullah Mohammed Omar. Omar states bin Laden is alive in Afghanistan. “Osama helped us during the war with the Russians, he would not leave us now,” the newspaper quotes Omar as saying. “The Holy War is only just beginning. The fire from this war will reach America, and it will burn the capital that launched an unjust attack on Muslims.”

July 2002 – Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al Arabi newspaper, says the al-Qaeda leader is in good health, but was wounded in an attack on his base in Afghanistan last December.

March 10, 2005 – Muslim clerics in Spain issue what they call the world’s first fatwa, or Islamic edict, against bin Laden. They call him an apostate and urge others of their faith to denounce him. The ruling is issued by the Islamic Commission of Spain, the main body representing the country’s Muslim community.

October 2009 – Najwa and Omar bin Laden write and publish their book, “Growing up bin Laden: Osama’s Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World.”

December 2009 – The US government admits a “lack of intelligence” on bin Laden’s whereabouts, noting he could be in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

May 2, 2011 – In the early morning hours, a small group of US Forces, including Navy Seals, raid a walled and fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In the ensuing firefight, bin Laden and three other men die. A woman also dies. Bin Laden reportedly dies of a gunshot wound to the head. DNA samples are taken before his body is buried at sea.

June 17, 2011 – The US Justice Department formally drops terrorism-related criminal charges against bin Laden.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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