It’s been four years since a Navy SEAL operation located and disposed of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The world’s most wanted terrorist began life as the privileged son of a wealthy Saudi construction magnate, but by the mid-nineties his radical jihadist activities earned him a spot on the watch list of major world powers. He became a household name in 2001, after orchestrating a devastating series of attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York and the Pentagon building in Virginia. The September 11th attacks claimed over two thousand lives and launched the international War on Terror.
That’s what most people know about him. But did you know he had a serious crush on Whitney Houston? Or that he used to ride around on horses, firing guns in the air and pretending he was a cowboy? The extensive efforts of U.S. intelligence officers and the work of brave journalists now help to provide insight into the life and habits of the man who became America’s number one enemy. The information paints a picture with some downright surreal qualities.
According to CNN’s Nic Robertson, bin Laden’s Abottabad compound included a series of gardens growing cabbages, potatoes, and interestingly: marijuana. The compound was home to an estimated one million dollars’ worth of the plants at the time of its discovery. Despite being located just miles from a Pakistani military base, the crop went unnoticed by officials.
It seems likely that the plants were intended for use by someone inside the compound. While Al Qaeda does profit from the Middle Eastern drug trade, opium poppies are the preferred crop. Not to mention, sharing space with an active drug trafficking compound wouldn’t exactly be a prudent move for a man being hunted by half the Western world.
Bin Laden hated music. In his younger years, he would occasionally visit the race track in Khartoum, home to wild crowds who would sing and dance between races. On days where bands were hired to perform, it all became too much for bin Laden to handle. An acquaintance of his, Issam Turabi, recalls him complaining: “Music is the flute of the devil.” That makes his love of singer/songwriter Whitney Houston all the more weird.
A book by Kola Boof, who was held against her will as bin Laden’s sex slave, describes his love for the African-American pop star, going so far as to state he was willing to “break his color rule and make her one of his wives.” Boof claims bin Laden “had a paramount desire for Whitney Houston and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke of someday spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting with the superstar.“
He was less enthusiastic about her husband, Bobby Brown. Boof says he fantasized about killing him “as if it were normal to have women’s husbands killed.” She adds: “In his briefcase, I would come across photographs of the star, as well as copies of Playboy […] It would soon come to the point where I was sick of hearing Whitney Houston’s name.“