Osama bin Laden’s family on the run: ‘I never stopped praying our lives might return to normal’
In the days after 9/11, the world’s most wanted man retreated to Afghanistan. What happened to his wives and children?
On 10 September 2001, Osama bin Laden’s wives were ordered to pack one suitcase each. No one would say why, only that their husband wanted to move them and his youngest children away from Kandahar. His older sons were to join their father and other brothers at an undisclosed location. The only boy left behind was nine-year-old Ladin, a timid child who flinched at the sound of gunfire. He, the women and other children filed on to a corroding Soviet-era bus smeared with mud, setting off on a dirt track parallel to the Silk Road.
When the engine stops, you get off, Osama told them.
Three uncomfortable days later, they lurched to a halt on the outskirts of Jalalabad, a city in the north-east of Afghanistan, next to a dun-coloured fort surrounded by 4m-high mud walls and crowned with guard towers. The fort was a barracks for the al-Qaida training camp located at a nearby village, and Osama had grandiosely named it Najm al-Jihad, the Star of the Holy War. Surrounded by adobe huts set into a lunar landscape, it was dubbed “Star Wars” by Osama’s third son, Saad. Discarded ammunition boxes, food packaging and empty bottles of chemicals lay everywhere. Khairiah, the family matriarch, organised a clean-up.
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WNU Editor: This is not a normal family. A must read for Osama Bin Laden watchers.