Osama Bin Laden ‘left $29m inheritance’ for al-Qaeda

Letter released by US appears to outline how the slain al-Qaeda leader wanted his wealth to be apportioned.

Osama bin Laden, 1998 [Getty]
US officials believe the hand-written note was a will composed in the late 1990s [Getty Images]

The United States has released what appears to be a handwritten will of the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In it, Bin Laden asked that the majority of his $29m fortune be spent on continuing al-Qaeda’s operations.

The letter was part of a cache of 113 documents taken in the 2011 US Special Forces in Pakistan during which Bin Laden was killed..

The documents were translated from Arabic and declassified by US intelligence agencies.

They were part of a second tranche of documents seized in the operation and have been declassified since May 2015. A large number have yet to be released.

One document, a handwritten note that US intelligence officials believe the late al-Qaeda leader composed in the late 1990s, laid out how he wanted to distribute about $29m he had in Sudan.

One percent of the $29m, Bin Laden wrote, should go to Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, a senior al-Qaeda member who used the nom de guerre Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.

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Bin Laden lived in Sudan for five years as an official guest until he was asked to leave in May 1996 by the government under pressure from the United States.

Another 1 percent of the sum should be given to a second associate, Abu Ibrahim al-Iraqi Sa’ad, an engineer, for helping set up Bin Laden’s first company in Sudan, Wadi al-Aqiq Co, the document said.

Bin Laden urged his close relatives to use the rest of the funds to support al-Qaeda’s activities.

“I hope for my brothers, sisters and maternal aunts to obey my will and to spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on jihad, for the sake of Allah,” he wrote.

He set down specific amounts in Saudi riyals and gold that should be apportioned between his mother, a son, a daughter, an uncle, and his uncle’s children and maternal aunts.

In a letter dated August 15, 2008, and addressed “To my Precious Father”, Bin Laden asks that his wife and children be taken care of in the event he died first.

It was unclear to whom Bin Laden was writing, as his natural father, Mohammed bin Laden, died in a 1967 aircraft crash. US intelligence officials were not immediately available to comment on whether he may have been referring to his stepfather, Mohammad al-Attas.

READ MORE: What we learn from Osama bin Laden’s bookshelf

“My precious father: I entrust you well for my wife and children, and that you will always ask about them and follow up on their whereabouts and help them in their marriages and needs,” he wrote.

In a final wistful paragraph, he asks for forgiveness “if I have done what you did not like”.

Assassination fears

In a letter to his father dated August 8, 2008, Bin Laden wrote that he was worried about being assassinated.

“If I am to be killed, pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home,” Bin Laden wrote.


A letter from Bin Laden to his “dear wife” provides a glimpse into the mentality of the most hunted man on the planet.

The wife had recently visited a dentist in Iran, and Bin Laden asks her if she is sure the physician did not insert a tiny tracking device into a filling.

“Please let me know in detail about anything that bothers you about any hospital in Iran or any suspicions that any of the brothers may have about chips planted in any way,” he wrote in a letter signed Abu Abdallah, Bin Laden’s nom de guerre.

“The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli.”

A first tranche of documents released last May showed Bin Laden was worried about drone strikes, and detailed his plans to groom a new cadre of leaders.

Bin Laden also warned that conflict with regimes in the Middle East would distract his group’s fighters from focusing the fight on what he considered was the the real enemy – America.

Source: News Agencies