Friday, October 30, 2009

( Visit Growing Up Bin Laden ( Book Review and Photos )


Book Review:

A true story that few ever believed would come to light, Growing Up bin Laden uncovers startling revelations and hidden secrets carefully guarded by the most wanted man in our lifetime, Osama bin Laden.  These secrets are revealed by the only people who could know such private details, his wife and son. 

Najwa bin Laden, who married her cousin Osama bin Laden at the age of 15, is his first wife and the mother to eleven children, seven of Osama's sons and four of his daughters.  Omar bin Laden is the fourth son of Osama bin Laden.  Together, they narrate spine-tingling details about the drama, tensions, and everyday activities of the man they knew as a husband and father. No writer or journalist, even the most respected, has ever gained access to close members of Osama bin Laden's family, until now.  But after Omar and his mother approached bestselling author Jean Sasson, a trusted collaboration slowly formed. 

This uniquely human document is the result.

Growing Up bin Laden tells the story of a young girl who married her gentle and kindly first-cousin, enjoying a happy early marriage with the groom of her choice.  But world events thrust her husband into a frenzy of militant activities, altering his once pleasing behavior in the process.  Thus Najwa's life, and the lives of her innocent children, became a maze of escaping from one country to another.  Osama's fourth-born son, Omar, describes his early years, the son who wanted nothing but his father's love, but Omar's quest for his father's attention won him nothing but his father's cruelties. 

Together, their powerful story as mother and son give us an extraordinary view of a man hated by so many, yet both loved and feared by his family, including:

• Osama's disapproval of modern conveniences, including electricity and medicine
• His plan to toughen up his sons by taking them into the desert without food or water
• Transporting his wives and children to the rough terrain of Sudan, where he claimed to be preparing them for attacks from western powers, commanding them to dig holes, and to sleep in those holes, allowing nothing more than sand and twigs for cover
• Omar's horror at the rape and murder of a boy his own age, by members of a jihadist group living among them in the Sudan.
• What happened in the bin Laden home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the morning of September 11, 2001, and Omar's surprise phone call with his mother, who escaped from Afghanistan only two days before the shattering events that killed so many innocent people

Through their frank accounts, Omar and Najwa dispel the many myths about Osama bin Laden that are currently circulating, including:

Myth:  Osama ordered Najwa to be sent to him in Saudi Arabia, to make her his bride against her objections.
Fact:  Osama and Najwa knew each other from Najwa's birth.  Their relationship was one of family friendship that developed into love.  In fact, Najwa married Osama over her mother's protests.

Myth:  Neither Osama nor Najwa has ever traveled to the United States.
Fact:    Osama traveled with Najwa and their two oldest sons to Indiana in 1979. Osama left Najwa in Indiana while he traveled to LA to meet with jihadist Abdullah Azzam.

Myth:  Osama bin Laden has been seriously ill with kidney disease for many years, creating a need to transport a dialysis machine with him wherever he goes.
Fact:  Osama bin Laden's health was good, suffering only from kidney stones and recurrences of malaria he contracted when fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

Myth:  Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban, welcomed Osama to Afghanistan in 1996, after Sudanese officials expelled him.
Fact:  Mullah Omar did not invite Osama.  In fact, Osama was wary of the actions Mullah Omar might take once he discovered Osama was operating on Afghan territory.  The two men did not even meet for several years after Osama arrived, and their relationship was never easy.  Mullah Omar actually insulted Osama, and wanted him to leave Afghanistan after the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the American African Embassies.

Since September 11, 2001, journalists have struggled to uncover carefully guarded information about Osama's private life, and his wives and children.  All have failed.  But Growing Up bin Laden reveals the names and background of all Osama's wives, and the names and ages of his children.

With unprecedented access and insight, Jean Sasson, author of the bestselling Princess:  A True Story Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, takes us inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden.

A Bin Laden Family Album

Photos from the book Growing Up Bin Laden, authored by Osama's wife Najwa, his son Omar and Jean Sasson
Mohammed bin Laden
The grand patriarch of the bin Laden family, a billionaire industrialist and father of Osama, appears in a 1964 painting.
Osama bin Laden
The future wanted man posed for this portrait in 1973 at age 16, a year before he married his cousin Najwa.
Omar bin Laden
The author appears at age 6, the year the family moved to Medina and Omar started school. Omar is the son most opposed to his father's violence. He has married a British woman and wants to begin a peace movement.
Omar in 1994
Omar performs for the camera during the time his family lived in Khartoum, Sudan.
Bin Laden in Afghanistan, 1984
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up its Marxist government, Osama bin Laden joined the Islamist resistance movement.
Abdullah bin Laden
As the eldest son of Osama bin Laden and his first wife Najwa, Abdullah holds the most honored position of all his siblings. He is seen here working on his father's backhoe in Sudan in 1993. He runs a small business and shuns publicity.
Sa'ad, Osman and Mohammed bin Laden
The third child of Osama and Najwa, Sa'ad was rumored to be jailed in Iran, although no one, including his mother, knows his whereabouts. Osman married the daughter of a high-ranking member of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a terrorist group dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian state. Mohammed is said to have the necessary traits — and parental approval — to be Osama's successor.
Fatima, Sa'ad, Omar, Mohammed, Osman and Abdul Rahman
Osama arranged for his first daughter, Fatima, to be married to a Saudi fighter at age 12. Her husband died in the American attacks on Afghanistan two years later. Abdul Rahman found it difficult to regain Saudi nationality after it was revoked and now lives quietly in Syria.
Omar in 2007
Omar appears with his beloved horse in Saudi Arabia.
The Next Generation
Omar holds his son Ahmed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2005.

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