Five years after Bin Laden’s death, 10 facts about him that you didn’t know


Here’s a look at what you need to know about Osama bin Laden, the former leader of Al-Qaeda who was killed five years ago.

  1. Child number 17

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

Though unclear Bin Laden was born in 1957 (sources vary: either March 10 or July 30).

  1. Married six women

Osama bin Laden got married to first wife Najwa – a Syrian cousin – in 1974 when he was 17 and separated days before 9/11. The two had 11 children. He later married Khadijah between 1983 and 1995. He divorced Khadijah in 1995. The pair had three children.

While he was still married to Khadijah, Osama tied the knot with Khairiah in 1985. Khairiah stuck by him until he met his death in May, 2011. The duo had a child named Hamza.

With three wives already, Osama married the fourth – Siham, in 1987. Just like the third wife Khairiah, Siham too stuck by him until his death in May 2011. The couple had four children. Osama would in 1996 marry unknown woman, but the union was annulled within days – that was his fifth marriage.

In 2000, Osama married Amal – technically the sixth woman in his life. Amal stuck by him until his death. The pair had five children.

  1. Studied engineering in university

Osama bin Laden attended King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah where he studied a Bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1979.

  1. He founded Al-Qaeda in 1988

Bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda, the terrorist network group, in 1988. Al-Qaeda when loosely translated means “the base”. When the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to work for the family construction firm.

In August 7, 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, U.S. troops arrived in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was angered by their presence, and soon began to target the United States for its presence on Saudi soil.

Bin Laden would later in August 23, 1996 declare a jihad, or holy war, against U.S. forces. He signed and issued a declaration of Jihad (holy war) from Afghanistan entitled: “Message from Osama bin Laden to his Muslim Brothers in the Whole World and Especially in the Arabian Peninsula: Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques; Expel the Heretics from the Arabian Peninsula.”

  1. Once lived in Sudan

Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan just before he declared Jihad against U.S. forces in August 23, 1996. He was expelled from the country and he moved with his children and wives to Afghanistan where he received harbor from the fundamentalist Taliban.

  1. Termed U.S. “criminal”

In August 23, 1996 in his first interview with Western media, Bin Laden told Peter Bergen that the United States is “unjust, criminal and tyrannical.”

“The U.S. today wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose on us agents to rule us.”

  1. Orchestrated bombing of U.S. Embassy in Kenya

In February 1997, according to court documents, Bin Laden ordered the militarization of the East African cell of Al-Qaeda, a move that culminated in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998, eight years to the day after U.S. troops landed in the Saudi kingdom.

A pair of truck bombs had exploded outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.

On February 23, 1998, Bin Laden stated that Muslims should kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world where they can be found.

Bin Laden would in June 7, 1999 appear for the first time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

In September 2001, the U.S. government named Bin Laden as a prime suspect following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

  1. Was rumoured dead in January, 2002

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

However, in March 9, 2002, a Saudi-owned publication quoted one of Bin Laden’s wives as saying her personal belief is that he is living. The woman, identified only as A.S. said: “… the whole world would have known if he had been killed. Osama’s death cannot be hidden.”

In May 17, 2002 news about his death was formally refuted. A Saudi-owned newspaper published quotes from Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar in which he stated: “Sheikh Osama is still alive, praise God, and this is causing anguish to (U.S. President George W. Bush) who promised his people to kill Osama…”

  1. Was denounced by Spanish Muslim clerics

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

10. Killed in May 2, 2011

In May 2, 2011, in the early morning hours, a small group of U.S. Forces, including Navy Seals, raided a highly walled and fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In the ensuing firefight, Osama bin Laden and three other men were killed. A woman also died. Bin Laden reportedly died of a gunshot wound to the head. DNA samples were taken before his body was buried at sea.

The U.S. Justice Department would formally drop terrorism related criminal charges against bin Laden in June 17, 2011.

(Additional reporting by: CNN).


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