A 24-year-old British woman named Louise Pollard recently agreed to act a surrogate mother on behalf of Omar bin Laden, who is one of Osama bin Laden's estimated 20 children, and Omar's wife Zaina. But now Pollard, giving a tell-all interview to the local Bristol Evening Post, has a surprise announcement: She's not just carrying Osama bin Laden's grandchild; she's carrying his twin grandchildren.
Pollard is joining an eccentric branch of an already strange and sweeping family tree. Omar, who is 29, traveled with his father to Sudan and Afghanistan in the 1990s but left in 2000 over objections to Osama's life of violence. He has since consistently denounced his father. In 2006, he married Jane Felix-Browne, a 54 year old British grandmother who had legally changed her name to Zaina al-Sabah, now Zaina bin Laden. Their marriage was Omar's second and Zaina's sixth. They began searching for a surrogate mother and decided on Pollard, whom they gave 10,000 British pounds to be artificially inseminated, which did not succeed until the third attempt. In 2007, they briefly divorced under circumstances that remain unclear. Zaina claims the incident was staged by Omar at the beginning of his mental decline.
This past summer, Omar began acting erratically and reporting that he heard his father speaking to him. When he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Zaina left their home in Qatar and returned to England. She told The U.K. Sun, "There's no one else responsible for this. Omar loves and hates Osama at the same time. He loves him because he is his father, but hates what he has done. I think he suffered post- traumatic stress disorder after 9/11. Seeing what his dad had done ruined Omar's life. He has not seen his father for more than ten years and wants peace in the world, not violence and war."
Shortly after Zaina returned to the U.K., the bin Laden couple's surrogate mother, Louise Pollard, was outed to The Sun by her brother. Pollard told the New York Post that Zaina plans to raise the child alone if necessary but hopes to reunited with Omar, who is still in Qatar. Omar has been unable to secure a visa to return to the U.K., which may or may not change when his children are born as British citizens. Pollard, announcing to the Bristol Evening Sun that she is carrying bin Laden twins, pleaded for the world to look past the bin Laden name, as she did. "Omar doesn't have anything to do with his father. I've visited them in Qatar, and he's just a normal guy who likes playing with his Playstation and listening to his music," she said. "All I want to do is to help a nice couple who can't have kids themselves. What's wrong with that?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.