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'The Bin Ladens,' A Complicated Family Tree

Apr 1, 2008 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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In his new book, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in The American Century, author Steve Coll details the complicated family history of Osama bin Laden, one of 54 children born to Mohamed bin Laden.

The elder bin Laden transformed himself from an illiterate bricklayer into an immensely wealthy and powerful businessman.

Mohamed bin Laden died in a plane crash in 1967, leaving each of his sons a 2.7 percent share of the company assets, and each daughter a 1 percent share. While most of his brothers began working for the family company, Osama instead focused on Islamic political causes.

Coll is a two-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who has written for The Washington Post (where he also served as managing editor) and The New Yorker. He is the president and CEO of The New America Foundation, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington DC.

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