According to a forthcoming book by Bin Laden's son and one of his wives, the Evil One took a family vacation to Indiana and Los Angeles in 1979. And just like that, a Don DeLillo novel is born.
The New Yorker's Steve Coll has long suspected—and previously reported, based on the recollections of one of Bin Laden's childhood friends—that the Al Quaeda leader had visited the U.S. But he's found confirmation and detail in a galley of Growing Up bin Laden, the new book by Osama's first wife Najwa bin Laden and their son Omar.
One evening he [Osama] arrived home with a surprise announcement: 'Najwa, We are going to travel to the United States. Our boys are going with us.'
I was shocked, to tell you the truth…Pregnant, and busy with two babies, I remember few details of our travel, other than we passed through London before flying to a place I had never heard of, a state in America called Indiana. Osama told me that he was meeting with a man by the name of Abdullah Azzam. Since my husband's business was not my business, I did not ask questions.
Osama left Najwa in Indiana for a while to jet off to L.A. for meetings. A highlight of her stay was a trip to "a big shopping mall in Indianapolis."
The couple's son Abdul Rahman developed a fever during their vacation, and they took him to an American doctor in Indiana who assured them that the boy would be fine. They came to think of Americans as not so bad, Najwa says:
I came to believe that Americans were gentle and nice, people easy to deal with. As far as the country itself goes, my husband and I did not hate America, yet we did not love it.
No, "love" is not quite the word. While waiting for their return flight in the Indianapolis airport, Najwa writes, she and Osama got a big kick out of all the midwestern hicks gawking at Najwa's traditional Muslim garb.
When my husband and I discussed the incident, we were both more amused than offended. That man gave us a good laugh, as it was clear he had no knowledge of veiled women.
Crazy Amrikans! Doesn't Growing Up bin Laden sound like a great name for a reality show? Ben Silverman call your office.