The Six Wives of Osama bin Laden

Learn More About the Half-Dozen Women Who Married a Terrorist

Osama Bin Laden on Television
Sygma via Getty Images / Getty Images

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was gunned down by U.S. forces in Pakistan at the age of 54 on May 2, 2011. His youngest wife, a Yemeni woman, was hiding with him and their daughter in the Abbottabad compound. Here's a rundown of the women who married this infamous terrorist.

Najwa Ghanem

Bin Laden married Najwa Ghanem, a Syrian woman who was also his first cousin, in an arranged marriage in 1974 when he was 17. After having 11 children with the terror leader, Najwa left the marriage in 2001 prior to the 9/11 terror attacks. Their eldest son, Abdullah, runs a firm called Fame Advertising in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The couple's son Saad may have been killed in Pakistan by a U.S. drone strike in 2009. Omar, a businessman married Briton Jane Felix-Browne in 2007, while Mohammed, who was believed to have been Bin Laden's favorite, married the daughter of top al-Qaeda lieutenant Mohammed Atef and was killed during a 2001 U.S. air raid. In 2009, Najwa and Omar released "Growing Up Bin Laden," an account of their lives with the terrorist leader.

Khadijah Sharif

Nine years his senior, Khadijah Sharif married bin Laden in 1983. They had three children together. Khadijah was highly educated and said to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The pair divorced while living in Sudan in the 1990s, and Khadijah returned to Saudi Arabia. According to bin Laden's former bodyguard, Khadijah requested the divorce because she could no longer endure the hardships of living a terrorist lifestyle.

Khairiah Sabar

Ironically, this marriage was arranged by bin Laden's first wife, Najwa. Khairiah Sabar was highly educated and had a doctorate in Islamic law. They were wed in 1985. Their son, Hamza, was featured in al-Qaeda videos as a young teen and was being groomed as heir apparent to his father's terrorist empire. In an autobiography published after her assassination, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said she'd been warned that Hamza was plotting her death. According to reports published in 2019, Hamza has taken the reins as al-Queida's new leader, following in his father's footsteps. Khairiah, who was reportedly living with bin Laden in his last days along with two other wives and some of their children, was deported to Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Siham Sabar

Siham Sabar, who is also said to have been descended from the Prophet Mohammed, married bin Laden in 1987. They had four children together, including Khalid. In the wake of the 2011 Navy SEAL raid, there was initial confusion over which of bin Laden's sons—Hamza or Khalid—had died along with his father, however, it was later confirmed to have been Khalid. Siham remained in Afghanistan with bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks but was deported to Saudi Arabia along with his other two widows in 2012 a year after his death.

The Unnamed Fifth Wife

Bin Laden married in Khartoum, Sudan, shortly after his second wife left him in the 1990s to return to Saudi Arabia. The marriage was annulled within 48 hours, so little is known about it.

Amala al-Sadah

In 2000, Amala al-Sadah was a teenager when she was given to bin Laden in marriage, reportedly to cement a political alliance between the terrorist leader and a tribe seen as key in al-Qaeda recruitment in Yemen. Amala lived with bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan from 2005 until his death. Their first child, a girl named Safiya after a historical figure who killed a Jewish spy, was born shortly after the 9/11 attacks. This child was reportedly in the compound during the raid in which her father perished and Amala was shot in the leg. Amala was the third of bin Laden's widows deported in 2012.