Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bin Laden family
The immensely rich bin Laden family, intimately connected with the innermost circles of the Saudi royal family was thrown into prominence through the activities of Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden family own and operate a global corporation annually grossing 5 billion dollars, based upon the largest construction firm in the Islamic world, with offices in London and Geneva. 
The family traces its origins in Saudi Arabia to Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden (died 1968), a native of the Chafeite (Sunni) Hadramaut coast in Yemen, who emigrated to Arabia before World War I. He came to Abdul Aziz ibn Saud 's attention through construction projects and was awarded contracts for major renovations at Mecca, where he made his initial fortune from exclusive rights to all mosque and other religious building construction not only in Saudi Arabia, but as far as Ibn Saud's influence reached. Until his death Mohammed bin Laden had exclusive control over restorations at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Soon the bin Laden corporate network extended far beyond construction sites.
Mohammed's special intimacy with the monarchy was inherited by the younger bin Laden generation. Mohammed's sons attended Victoria College, Alexandria Egypt. Their schoolmates included King Hussein of Jordan, Zaid Al Rifai , the Kashoggi brothers (whose father was one of the king's physicians), Kamal Adham (who ran the Saudi [security] services under King Faisal), present-day contractors Mohammed Al Attas, Fahd Shobokshi and Ghassan Sakr and even actor Omar Sharif.
When Mohammed bin Laden died in 1968 his son Salem bin Laden took over the family enterprises. Salem was one of at least 54 children by various wives. The groupings of the family, based on the nationalities of the wives, include a "Syrian group", a "Lebanese group," and an "Egyptian group". The Egyptian group employs 40,000 people as that country's largest private foreign investor.
The Mecca event
The bin Laden connection with the House of Saud was severely strained in 1979, when Islamist insurgents briefly took control of the mosque at Mecca. Trucks owned by the family had been used to smuggle arms into the tightly controlled city. Mahrous bin Laden had been the enabler, working with the Islamist insurgency. His connection was through the son of a Sultan of Yemen who had been radicalized by Syrian members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mahrous was actually arrested for a time, but is now managing the Medina branch of the bin Laden enterprises.
bin Ladens and King Fahd
The two closest friends of the King were Prince Mohammed ben Abdullah (son of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud's youngest brother) who died in the early 1980s and Salem bin Laden who died in 1988, when his light plane crashed in Texas. The plane's flight log had been a subject of some interest because the same plane was said to have been used in the summer of 1990 by negotiators in the so-called "October Surprise" (an alleged conspiracy by Ronald Reagan's supporters to delay resolution of the Iran Hostage Crisis until after the US presidential election.
Business connections of the Bush and bin Laden families
Michael Moore's highly critical documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 alleges strong business connections between the Bush political family and the bin Laden family. Moore based most of his claims on Craig Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud which relates how Salem bin Laden invested through James R. Bath,the sole U.S. business representative for Salem bin Laden, some money in Arbusto Energy, a company run by George W. Bush . Connections beyond investment activites 30 years ago have not been proven.
After September 11, 2001
Some two dozen members of the bin Laden family, most of them students, were in the United States at the time of the September 11 attacks. Saudi Embassy officials, fearing reprisals, gathered the group together and, with approval from the F.B.I., flew them by private jet from Los Angeles to Orlando, then on to Washington, and finally to Boston where they were kept in seclusion. As soon as the F.A.A. permitted overseas flights, the bin Laden jet flew to Europe.
- "Hunting bin Laden" Frontline PBS report based on French intelligence
- houseofbush.com Craig Ubger, House of Bush, House of Saud
- Jane Mayer, "The house of bin Laden: a family's, and a nation's, divided loyalties," from The New Yorker November 12, 2001: conflicted loyalties prevented the bin Laden family from publicly distancing themselves from Osama
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