Muslim women with religious veil
Muslim women with religious veil Israel news photo


Announcing the successful assassination of Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011, President Obama declared that the United States is “not – and never will be – at war with Islam….our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, Al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.”

In that same speech, Obama stated that “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader” because, according to Obama, by definition, a (good) Muslim cannot be a “mass murderer of Muslims.” But this is simply not true. Muslims specialize in murdering other Muslims all the livelong day.

Think of Iran’s record. Think of Lebanon. Think of the way Muslim leader Moammar Qaddafi has been shooting down his own Muslim citizens at point blank range.  Think of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabian and Bahraini leaders shooting down Shia Muslim Bahrainis.

When the president of the United States singled out Muslims as victims Sunday night, why did he not pause to briefly mention, even in passing, the fact that Muslims and Islamists have also slaughtered non-Muslim victims: infidels, Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc.? Prick us, will we not bleed? Do our deaths count for nothing?

In his opening remarks on 5/1, Obama noted that bin Laden was responsible for the murder of thousands of “innocent men, women, and children.” This was Obama’s only mention of women. However, Americans were reviled at the many early media accounts and statements from officials following the assassination which reported that, when confronted by the Navy Seals, bin Laden used a woman, one of his wives, as a “human shield.” Updated reports suggest that this particular wife was not used as a shield, but that she herself rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg, but not killed.

Whatever the case, this woman was acting, directly or indirectly, as a human shield for Osama. And this heinous behavior, to have a woman die before or instead of you, is not only typical of bin Laden, but typical of many Muslim Islamist and jihadic men.

Muslim men often give Muslim women who were otherwise slated to be honor murdered one last chance to go out in glory—as long as they blow up Israelis, Jews, Americans, infidels with them. These mass murderers—these serial killers by proxy–have trained veiled Muslim women to blow themselves up in public squares and mosques, where other veiled Muslim women and babies are shopping. Their handlers, who are not always men, are, in a sense, hiding behind them too.

Such women, especially the wives of jihadists, are trained to be very aggressive in the service of protecting their Man. I do not know whether Osama “forced” his wife to rush at the American soldiers or whether the nature of their relationship simply consisted of such one-sided female devotion-unto-death.

In Growing Up Bin Laden, Osama’s first wife/first cousin, Najwa bin Laden, and his fourth son, Omar bin Laden, (Najwa’s son too), reveal Osama’s monstrous but rather typical behavior vis-a-vis women and children, including his own.

Bin Laden, the holy warrior, had four-five wives (Najwa Ghanem, Khadijah Sharif, Khairiah Sabar, Siham Sabar, and Amal Al-Sadah who replaced his annulled fifth marriage and/or his divorced wife, Khadijah Sharif). Osama fathered eleven sons and eight daughters (nineteen children), ten with Najwa alone. According to Najwa and Omar, Osama was not physically cruel to his wives. He never beat them or raised his voice to them. They were chosen for their submissiveness, passivity, and religiosity.

Typically, like many Arab and Muslim men, Osama loved his mother; he may even have identified with her as a kindred outcast. His first wife, Najwa, was his mother’s niece. He and Najwa lived with Osama’s mother, Allia, for a long time.

To Osama, women were important as breeders and domestic servants but otherwise they did not really matter, they were not important. He spent most of his time with other men, warriors, or businessmen. His first wife was fifteen years old. Osama expected a wife to “know her place.” He expected his four wives to live in purdah (to observe the strictest Saudi or Afghan style face and body coverings).

Despite his enormous wealth, Osama condemned his wives to very primitive living conditions, and essentially expected them to work as domestic beasts of burden. He never concerned himself with their comfort and forced them to live in austere settings with little furniture. However, his relationship to Najwa was one of mutual understanding and tenderness.

Still, according to her son and co-author, Omar, even when Najwa was suffering from a difficult pregnancy, “she lived without air-conditioning in the hottest weather, without proper heating in the coldest weather, without modern appliances to store or book food or wash her family’s clothes, without proper food for her children, without medical care for anyone and without a way of communicating with her mother and siblings.”

Najwa never complained and maintained the “sweetest composure.”

Osama the mighty warrior could or would not live for long without his women and children with him. He took them along into danger and privation. He dragged all his wives and children along with him, first to Saudi Arabia, then into exile, in Sudan, and Afghanistan where he literally demanded that they live in a cave. 

Najwa left Afghanistan two days before 9/11. At least one wife, probably his fifth wife Amal, stayed with him and accompanied him to Pakistan. She is the one who may have functioned as his “human shield” in his final confrontation with American Navy Seals.

Prof. Phyllis Chesler is the author of fifteen books, including  Women and Madness (Doubleday, 1972),  The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and most recently, The New Anti-Semitism. She is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network.  She writes for several news and opinion sites and has a weekly column on INN.


(This article appears in  as well. Sent to INN by the author)