Osama bin Laden is largely a symbol rather than a real person with flesh and blood. But by talking to people with whom he has personal contacts, we can still see the personal influence that turned him from a Saudi upper class youth to the most dangerous person in the world…

bin Laden and his private life

bin Laden grew up in Chittagong on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s and 1970s, About 48 kilometers from Mecca. He grew up in a period of rapid changes in the Muslim world. A series of events affected him and the young people around him – the Khomeini revolution, the occupation of Mecca mosque by Saudi militants, the ceasefire agreement between Egypt and Israel, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

bin Laden said: my father was blessed to participate in and complete the renovation of the mosques in Mecca and Medina. When the Jordanian government publicly invited tenders to repair the reef mosque, he summoned engineers and asked them to “only calculate the cost of the project”. He later got the project.

bin Laden’s brother-in-law: Osama loves his father very much and sees him as a role model. But he had little contact with his father. His father died at the age of 10, and even before his death, his father had more than 20 wives and 54 children. Osama’s mother is from Syria. He is the only child born to his father and mother.

bin Laden British Tutor: the boys in bin Laden’s family are very beautiful. Although his father won’t have more than four wives in the same period of time, the third and fourth wives are constantly abandoned for new people. This was also very outdated at that time. Osama is one of the 30 bin Laden boys in my class. It was 1968. He was 11 years old. I remember clearly that he always sat in the back 13 with the window facing the family court. He impressed me deeply because he is the tallest. His English is average and he is not the smartest student in the class. After his father died in the plane crash in 1967, the family business was managed by his eldest brother Salim. Salim is very westernized and fluent in English.

a relative of bin Laden’s family: Salim is an odd number among Saudi men. He is very charismatic. He likes to play the guitar and sing the western pop song “where are the flowers?” in the 1960s, He is a confidant of King Fahd. If the king wants to build a palace, Salim always gets the project.

the owner of ostera hotel in Sweden: Salim and Osama came in 1970. They came in a luxury Ross Royce, and I told them no parking in this street, or the police would be fined by the hour. They said, “it’s fun to pay at the police station and talk to the police. We’ll stop here.” They have so much money that they don’t know how much they have. I asked them how they brought such a big Ross Royce car to Sweden, and they said, “we have our own plane.” They stayed for a week and rented two double rooms. But they slept in one bed, and the other was full of bags full of famous brand clothes. I asked the waiter to wash and iron their clothes, and they said no. “We don’t want our clothes once. You can take them if you like.”

eight non, neighbor: we play together. At that time, I was a “tough guy” and he was a gentle teenager. He is very shy and sensitive to the environment. He likes watching western movies and kung fu movies. He likes pedaling mountains and riding horses. He fasts and prays every Monday and Thursday. His mother and stepfather and their children are in average condition, but Osama is very godly. He would criticize his brothers for not looking at girls. Remind them to get up and pray together in the morning. No one complained about him, but sometimes he was annoyed that his family’s practices were not in line with the doctrine. When he was 17, he married his uncle’s daughter, and then he went to college. I don’t see him often… Did you know he has been to the United States? He took his eldest son to the United States for surgery. He lived with his mother for a year after he got married. He moved to his new home only after his son was born. Later, he had multiple wives, and he gave them each an apartment. The house is so simple that I wouldn’t want to live in it.

university classmate: I knew Osama in 1976. He is an economics student. I study science. But we used to be together. We are all very pious and conservative. We never talk about women and we don’t have any photos. We talked about polygamy, our fathers kept getting married and divorcing, and some people were indifferent to their original match when they had a new wife. We all believe that this is not in line with the Muslim spirit – polygamy is to solve the social problem of more women than men, and it is only a responsibility to the husband, not pleasure. We decided that if we have more than one wife in the future, we must treat them in accordance with the Muslim spirit.

Saudi journalist: Osama, like many of us, participated in the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Saudi Arabia. But he loves fundamentalism more than we do. He doesn’t listen to music, shake hands with women, smoke, play cards or watch TV unless it’s the news. Rich as he is, he lives in a very simple house.

former sister-in-law: I know one of his wives. She is a university teacher with rich knowledge. After marriage, she returned to the local upper class family as a tutor in her spare time. Three of bin Laden’s four wives are university teachers. The first wife is not. He married the latter ones because it was God’s teaching that those women were old ladies who had missed the wedding time before marrying him. We Muslims believe that marrying an old lady will give them a chance to have children and will be rewarded by God in the afterlife. Because more children will grow up to be Muslims.

a Libyan jihadist who knew him: bin Laden lived a poor life. His children are wearing old clothes. You never thought they were bin Laden’s children. He always said, “everyone has to learn to give up all the comforts of modern life – electricity, air conditioning, refrigerator, car, etc. if you are used to a comfortable life, it is difficult for you to decide to go up the mountain and fight guerrillas.”

pre warrantyDart: in Sudan, one of his wives couldn’t stand such a hard life and asked for a divorce. He respected her choice and divorced her according to the requirements of the Koran. The other three wives continued to follow him in exile, despite their well-educated and well-known origins.