Salem Bin Laden
The eldest brother of Osama bin Laden, Salem
Bin Laden shared finances and friendships with the Bush family.
He became head of the family business, the BinLaden Group, in 1967, when his father died. Through the company, he developed a relationship with former President George H.W. Bush while the latter was director of the CIA.
In 1976, bin Laden visited Houston and signed a trust agreement that gave “full and absolute authority” to Bush family friend James Bath to act on behalf of the bin Laden family, including the "full authority to disburse funds" in any way he saw fit. Bath served in the Air National Guard with President George W. Bush, and he later became the business representative of Khalid bin Mahfouz, a member of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful banking family and owner of the National Commercial Bank, the principal bank of the Saudi royals.
Through Bath, bin Laden made some very large investments in the Houston area, purchasing the Main Bank (again with Mahfouz) and the Houston Gulf Airport, as well as several office and apartment buildings.
Salem bin Laden was a primary investor in George W. Bush’s oil exploration firm, Arbusto. In 1986, Arbusto, by then re-named Bush Explorations and verging on financial collapse, merged with Spectrum 7 Energy Corp, which in turn was bought two years later by Harken Energy.
Salem bin Laden had another connection to the Bush family – his close friendship with Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia from 1982 until 1995. The Bush family has long had close ties to the Saudi royal family. King Fahd, for example, donated $1 million to Barbara Bush’s anti-illiteracy programs while her husband George H.W. Bush was president.
Salem bin Laden was killed in 1987 when his ultra-light plane crashed into power lines immediately upon takeoff from a San Antonio airport.
- About the Bin Laden Family, Frontline, 2001: http://www-c.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/who/family.html
- Did the Saudis Buy a President?, Salon.com, March 12, 2004: http://dir.salon.com/story/books/feature/2004/03/12/unger_2/
- Bush Name Helps Fuel Oil Dealings, Washington Post, July 30, 1999: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush073099.ht m