Family Matters

Osama Bin Laden as Doting Granddad?

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It was hard to know how to feel when I heard that a British surrogate carrying Osama bin Laden’s twin grandchildren had lost the pregnancy in a bizarre, somewhat incomprehensible attack in Syria.

Sadness about the loss of two potential lives quickly gave way to a feeling of freaked-out-ness: I mean, Osama as Grandpa? Did he even know? Would he even care? Something doesn’t jibe.

Apparently the weirdness factor didn’t bother Louise Pollard, a 24-year-old personal assistant who was 10 weeks pregnant with the unborn children of bin Laden’s son, Omar, 29, and his wife, Zaina, who is 54 (that’s another story).

Pollard had reported receiving threats to herself and to the babies she carried before the Aug. 24 assault. “I’ve had many offensive messages from strangers on Facebook and hate mail,” she told the British Daily Mail. (More on Healthland: Explaining the girls kissing girls trend)

Pollard said she was walking home from a café with Zaina bin Laden when two men pushed her down, then fled. She had become pregnant through IVF using embryos created with Omar bin Laden’s sperm and Zaina bin Laden’s eggs. The bin Ladens have since separated, but there apparently are more embryos in storage.

It’s a pretty safe bet these were not going to be Osama bin Laden’s first grandchildren, seeing as he’s got, by various accounts, up to 26 children by four wives. But ask any grandparent if they ever have enough grandchildren, and the answer will likely be no.

Osama was even a pretty decent dad, “attentive and playful,” reports Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower. Cloistered as bin Laden ostensibly is in a tangle of caves somewhere in Pakistan, it’s doubtful he would ever have laid eyes on the babes, much less changed their nappies or read them the Arabic-language version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. (More on Healthland: Stress may delay pregnancy)

He may have his chance yet; Pollard announced Tuesday she is considering carrying another pregnancy for the couple, despite her initial misgivings — which had zilch to do with the babies’ (grand)parentage and everything to do with her empathy for the maternal instinct. ‘Now I have had Zaina on the phone in tears and it was just awful,” Pollard told the Daily Mail. “I didn’t think she felt as strongly but she is just another woman who is desperate to have a baby.”

Now that’s a sentiment with which countless women can identify. Bin Laden, unsurprisingly, could not be reached for comment.

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