Osama bin Laden told his children ‘I advise you not to work with Al Qaeda,’ new book reveals

Osama bin laden
Al Qaeda leader and terrorist Osama bin Laden is seen in a video in 1998. CNN via Getty Images
  • Osama bin Laden urged his children not to join Al Qaeda, according to a new book.
  • One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, became intricately involved with Al Qaeda and was eventually killed by the US.
  • Bin Laden had five wives and 24 children.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new book offers an in-depth look at the life of Osama bin Laden, the infamous leader of Al Qaeda who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, including details on how he urged his children against joining the terrorist organization he founded in the late 1980s.

“I advise you not to work with Al Qaeda,” bin Laden said in a message to his children in a will that was written up as he fled Tora Bora in 2001, according to a New York Times review of the book, “The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden,” written by Peter Bergen. In the will, bin Laden also expressed gratitude to his wives for their support and pleaded with his children for their forgiveness for not giving them much of his time, according to the Times’ review.

But one of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, became intricately involved with Al Qaeda and was eventually killed in a US operation, which was confirmed by the Trump administration in 2019.

Bin Laden, who was one of 55 children himself, had five wives and two dozen children. At the time of his death in 2011, a result of a Navy SEAL operation in Pakistan, bin Laden’s wives ranged in age from 28 to 62 and he had kids ranging in ages from three to 35.

Among other sources used, Bergen’s book is in part based on 470,000 files taken by the SEAL team during the raid in Abbottabad that killed bin Laden.

The book came out a little over a month before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which sparked a global war on terror that’s still ongoing.

Though there has not been a terror attack in the US – or the West more generally – on the same scale as 9/11 in the years since, critics of America’s worldwide effort to combat terrorism say that it’s largely been a costly failure that’s done major damage to US credibility. It’s claimed over 800,000 lives, displaced at least 37 million people, and the US government places the price-tag around $US6.4 ($AU9) trillion, according to the Brown University’s Costs of War project.

The 9/11 attacks prompted the US to invade Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden, leading to the longest conflict in US history. The US is currently in the final stages of withdrawing from Afghanistan, nearly two decades after the initial invasion.

Under the Bush administration, the US invaded Iraq in 2003 under the false premise that Saddam Hussein was actively developing weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration also sought to justify the invasion based on the baseless notion that Hussein was working with al Qaeda. President George W. Bush in March 2006 admitted in a public address that there were no links between the Iraqi leader and 9/11.

Al Qaeda and ISIS, a terror organization that was in many ways born out of the 2003 Iraq invasion, “remain the greatest Sunni terrorist threats to US interests overseas,” according to the 2021 version of the US intelligence community’s annual threat assessment.