Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Najwa bin Laden - Growing Up bin Laden

. From the New York Times bestselling author of Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

In their own words, Osama bin Laden’s wife and son tell the astonishing story of the man they knew—or thought they knew—before September 11, 2001.

The world knows Osama bin Laden as the most wanted terrorist of our time. But people are not born terrorists, and bin Laden has carefully guarded the details of his private life—until now, when his first wife and fourth-born son break the silence to take us inside his strange and secret world. In spine-tingling detail, Jean Sasson tells their story of life with a man whose growing commitment to violent jihad led him to move his wives and children from an orderly life to one of extreme danger, even choosing the teenage Omar to accompany him to the mountain fortress of Tora Bora.

In 1974, at the age of 15, Najwa married her first cousin, 17-year-old Osama bin Laden. She had grown up in a conservative Muslim household; he was one of the wealthy, powerful bin Ladens. She recalls a young husband drawn away on business and her life of seclusion and duty, giving birth to seven sons and four daughters, accepting other wives and children into the family and its itinerant homes. Omar, the fourth child of Osama and Najwa, recalls a severely strict father: no toys, no ventilators for boys who suffered from asthma, hikes in the desert with no water. Omar remembers accompanying his father to a training camp at 15 and their later confrontations—and eventual break—as he began to understand his father’s involvement in al-Qaeda. He also recalls conflicting emotions, including love and pride in his father and eventually shame for his father’s renown as a terrorist and architect of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. A compelling look at the intimate family life of a notorious man, as told by his wife and son. --Vanessa Bush

Fascinating. . . . Together, Najwa and Omar provide an intimate account of a family life that became steadily more dangerous and bizarre. . . . From affluence and comfort in Jeddah they were reduced to penury and privation in Afghanistan, all the wives and their many children living without electricity, running water, or even real beds, in forced pursuit of Osama’s jihadist dreams.”The Washington Post
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