Corrupt construction magnate with influence: Riyadh releases bin Laden half-brother from custody

Corrupt construction tycoon with influence
Riyadh releases Bin Laden’s half-brother from custody

At the end of 2017, Saudi Arabia arrested dozens of very rich people in an unprecedented wave of arrests. Among them are princes, businessmen and ministers, but also Bakr bin Laden. The half-brother of the terror prince Osama bin Laden is said to have enriched himself unfairly as a construction magnate.

The judiciary in Saudi Arabia has released the half-brother of the killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, Bakr bin Laden, from custody. The influential building contractor was able to travel to his family in Jeddah on the Red Sea last week, the AFP news agency learned from sources close to the family. Bin Laden was arrested more than three years ago as part of a kingdom anti-corruption campaign.

It is unclear whether this is a temporary release. According to a source, the entrepreneur’s freedom of movement was restricted: “He was released and asked to stay home.” However, bin Laden is allowed to receive visitors. Neither bin Laden nor the Saudi Arabian authorities could be reached for confirmation.

The bin Laden family, who come from Saudi Arabia and are considered one of the most influential and wealthy in the country because of their numerous building projects, benefited for decades from their close relationship with the Al Saud royal family. However, with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who set out to reshape the country’s economy and break up the elite system, their wealth dwindled.

In an unprecedented wave of arrests at the end of 2017, the ultra-conservative kingdom arrested dozen of the very rich, including princes, business people and ministers, in a luxury hotel for weeks. Many of them concluded financial agreements with the prosecutor in return for their release. Critics accuse the Crown Prince of wanting to consolidate his claim to power with the wave of arrests.