This powerful exposé, written by Osama bin Laden’s former sister-in-law, exposes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for what it is: an oppressive, backward-thinking monarchy based on Islamic law. The author, a Swiss National who was born and now lives in Geneva, is the product of the marriage of her Swiss father and Persian mother.


“Inside the Kingdom — My Life in Saudi Arabia” by Carmen bin Laden — Warner Books   


This powerful exposé, written by Osama bin Laden’s former sister-in-law, exposes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for what it is: an oppressive, backward-thinking monarchy based on Islamic law. The author, a Swiss National who was born and now lives in Geneva, is the product of the marriage of her Swiss father and Persian mother.


As a young girl, she met and married Yeslam bin Laden, Osama’s younger brother. She later moved with her husband to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where her two oldest daughters were born. Her husband was one of 54 children of Sheikh Mohammed Awad bin Laden, who rose from the life of a poverty stricken illiterate from Yemen to become one of the wealthiest men in the Middle East. His connections to the Kingdom’s royal family resulted in his company building Saudi Arabia’s holiest shrines, Mecca and Medina, then engaging in huge public works projects that were (and are) immensely profitable to the bin Laden organization.


At the time of his untimely death from an airplane crash in 1967, the senior bin Laden was distributing annual stipends in millions of dollars to each of his sons, and half amounts to each daughter. Terrorist Osama bin Laden was one of the sons receiving the annual payments.


Sheikh Mohammed had 22 wives at the time of his death, some divorced by him but still living in his compound and under his control. (The author believes that Osama still receives annual income from his father’s huge estate. She also notes he is extremely popular in the Kingdom and the Arab world and is looked on as a hero there.)


A continuous theme of the book is the brutal, oppressive manner in which females are treated in the Kingdom. They cannot speak to a man other than their husband, cannot be seen in public without a male family companion and must be covered at all times head to toe with an abaya, a long black cloak.


Saudi females cannot drive a car or even speak directly with a servant. There are few opportunities for females in the Kingdom to receive any type of education.


The “religious police,” armed with clubs, patrol every city and town ready, willing and able to physically punish any female who violates the strict moral code. The author cites a time when she witnessed a pregnant woman, wearing a heavy abaya covering her from head to toe in a market, fall to the floor and as her husband reached to help her, a religious police officer reprimanded him on the spot for “touching a female in public.” She notes that a woman displaying a centimeter of an ankle in public will likely receive a public thrashing.


One particular example of the Kingdom’s brutal treatment of women is described in detail.

Princess Mu’awa, a teenager and great niece of King Khalid, had been promised in marriage to a much older man by her family. The young princess made the fatal mistake of falling in love with a fellow teen, and was caught with him at an airport with a false passport, intending to flee the country.


Feeling she had shamed his family, her grandfather, Prince Mohamed, brother of the King, ordered her killed, and shortly thereafter her lifeless body was found in an alley with six gunshot wounds. As expected, no one was punished for the homicide.


The author offers some alarming warnings to the West. She opines that the Saudi Royal Family has the petrodollars and the will to spread the theme of its repressive Shari’ah law all over the world, including Western cultures.


She notes that of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world today, at least 10 percent are radical fundamentalists and, of that group, another 10 percent is more than willing to strike at Americans and any infidel who does not embrace Islam.


Simple math indicates therefore that more than a million devoted worldwide Wahabi warriors are primed and ready to strike, as they demonstrated on 9/11, the attacks in Madrid and London, etc.


This memoir is a sobering, scary read. It should be required reading of all Americans, especially those who think Saudi Arabia is a progressive country and America’s friend. As the author notes, “Saudi Arabia is the Taliban, with luxury.”