Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden (Arabic: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادنý
Usama bin Muhhamad bin Awad Bin Laden) was born 10
March 1957. He is a member of the wealthy Saudi Arabian bin Laden family and a founder
Islamist terrorist organization
came to the attention of the world after the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks on the United States, and has been associated with numerous other
Osama Bin Laden is on the American Federal Bureau of
Investigation's list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.
Since 2001, Osama bin Laden and
Al-Qaeda have been major targets of
the United States' government. Bin Laden and fellow Al-Qaeda leaders are
widely believed to be hiding in the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan's
Federally Administered Tribal Areas, though there are also persistent rumors
that he has been killed.
Osama Bin Laden Family and Early Life
Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to a 1998
interview, he his birth date is 10 March 1957. A different source gives
his birth date as July 30, 1957.
was one of about 57 children of Muhammed
Awad bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal
family. Muhammed bin Laden, born in Yemen, migrated to Saudi Arabia sometime
around 1930. He was initially a porter in the port of Jedda, and rose from
poverty to become a wealthy construction magnate. In the 1960s, he helped Feisal
persuade King Saud to step down. The Saudi treasury was empty after the
abdication of Feisal, so bin Laden paid the salaries of government employees for
six months. In gratitude, he was given all the major construction work in the
kingdom and for a time was Minister of Public Works. Bin Laden corporation
undertook the remodeling of the principal mosques in Mecca and Medina, and also
the repair of the
mosque in 1969. He was a pious and supposedly simple man, who kept the bag that
he had used as a porter in his palace as a momento.
Osama bin Laden was the only son of Muhammed bin Laden's tenth
wife, Hamida al-Attas, a Syrian. Muhammad Bin Laden divorced her soon after
Osama was born.
Osama's mother then married Muhammad al-Attas. The couple had four children
together, and Osama grew up with three stepbrothers and one stepsister.
Bin Laden was reportedly raised as a devout
according to one report, from 1968 to 1976 he
attended the secular Al-Thager Model School in Jedda, Saudi Arabia.
In 1974, at the age of 17, Osama bin Laden married Najwa Ghanem at
Latakia. Since then, various sources claim he has approximately four wives and
25 children. After graduation from high school, Bin Laden studied
economics and business administration at King Abdul Aziz University. According
to various reports, he earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979,ref or a
degree in public administration in 1981.ref Another
source claims he left university without completing a degree. At
university, bin Laden's main interest was religion, He was involved in both
"interpreting the Quran and jihad" and charitable work. He supposedly had two
distinguished teachers in Islamic studies at the university. The first was the
Palestinian Abdullah Azzam who later became his companion in revolution,
and the second was Muhammad Quttub, a famous Islamic writer and philosopher, ref
Osama Bin Laden Fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan
Supposedly, Osama Bin Laden went to the area of Afghanistan while he was
still a student or just after, as soon as the Soviets invaded. At first his
trips were confined to border areas in Pakistan, but in 1982 he decided to enter
Afghanistan. He brought construction machinery from the Bin Laden corporation
which he gave to the resistance fighters. In 1984 he established a guesthouse (Baitul
al Ansar) in Peshawar, Pakistan for the Saudis coming to fight in Afghanistan.
He did not set up his own fighting units yet, but rather directed the volunteers
to different groups. In
parallel, Abdullah Azzam either alone or with Bin Laden, had set up a propaganda center
(Maktab al Kidamat, MAK, Afghan Service Center, "Jihad Service Center")
that drummed up support for the
against the Soviets and gathered recruits.
In 1986 Osama decided to have his own camps inside Afghanistan and within two
years he built more than six camps and set up his own fighting forces. The guest
house and camps proved to be attractants for Arab Jihad fighters, including some
who had had military experience in their home countries. Until 1989, Osama Bin
Laden and his forces had apparently fought about 6 major battles with the
Soviets. During this period, Osama bin Laden more or less commuted between Saudi
Arabia and Afghanistan. Bin Laden had teamed up with Ayman Zawahiri, the
leader and with the Palestinian leader and Islamist Abdullah Azzam.
Osama Bin Laden and the formation of Al Qaeda
"the base," was evidently formed about 1987 or 1988. One theory is that it was a
database of names of people coming into the camps.ref
However, Azzam had written an article about a group called "the base" or Al-Qaeda
It was evidently an organizational framework for recruiting and integrating
Arab fighters into the Afhan fighting.
Toward the end of 1989, as the Soviets withdrew, there may have been a
disagreement among the leaders of Al-Qaeda
about the future use of the fighters they had mobilized. Abdullah Azzam
evidently wanted to keep the fighting confined to circumscribed targets like
Afghanistan and Israel. Zawahiri wanted to attack Muslim regimes that were
insufficiently religious. Abdullah Azzam was killed along with his two sons by a
bomb in November 1989.
Osama Bin Laden Returns to Saudi Arabia
Toward the end of 1989 or beginning of 1990 Osama Bin Laden returned to Saudi
Arabia. He may have been planning to stir up unrest in Yemen. He gave several
lectures warning that Saddam Hussein of Iraq was about to attack Saudi Arabia,
and this caused alarm in the regime, which at that time was un good terms with
Saddam Hussein. When the Americans intervened to protect Saudi Arabia, Bin-Laden
pleaded with the Saudi monarchy not to rely on foreign troops. He managed
to direct a number of fighters, some say as many as 4,000, to Afghanistan, where
they were to be trained to fight off an invasion by Iraq. For these
reasons his movements were restricted and he was not allowed to leave the
kingdom. Osama bin Laden seems to have turned against the Saudi regime at this
point. Late in 1991, he fled Saudi Arabia despite government restrictions, first
to Afghanistan and then to Sudan.
Osama Bin Laden in Sudan
In Sudan, the country's Islamist regime that had overthrown Jaafer Numeiri,
and its ruler, Hassan al-Turabi, gave him
shelter. Bin Laden, helped build a road linking the capital, Khartoum, with Port
Sudan and an airport. He also became involved in the export of Sudanese goods,
like gum, corn, sunflower and sesame products. A number of terror incidents
occurred during this period that may have been the work of Al-Qaeda.
These include the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the
1995 bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan. During this period, Bin Laden
may have sent fighters to Bosnia, and apparently was given Bosnian citizenship.
In 1994, the Saudis openly stripped him of his citizenship. In 1995 or
1996 he was forced to flee Sudan
after the government rescinded its welcome to him under international pressure.
He fled to Afghanistan. In June of 1996, the Saudis were shocked by the Khobar
bombing, which may have been the work of Al-Qaeda,
In 1996 Al Qaeda also issued the first of
Osama Bin Laden's Fatwas,
"Declaration of War
against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places", addressing
US Secretary of Defense William Perry by name, and claiming the al Khobar
The crusader army became dust when we
detonated al-Khobar with courageous youth of Islam fearing no danger, If
(they are) threatened, "The tyrants will kill you," they reply, "My death is
a victory. I did not betray that king, he did betray our Qiblah. And he
permitted in the holy country the most filthy sort of humans. I have made an
oath by Allah, the Great, to fight whoever rejected the faith.
Bin Laden and his group issued a second and more widely publicized
in 1998, (see Osama
Bin Laden Fatwa of 1998) again threatening death to Americans in Saudi
Arabia and elsewhere. These gave the world a florid description of the Jihadist
ideology and amply warning of Bin Laden's plans to attack the US and its allies.
Curiously, the world largely ignored both
and the US administration ignored the radical
ideology in those
and publically at least, preferred to characterize Bin Laden as a sort of bandit
Osama Bin Laden's Ideology
The nature of Bin Laden's radical
is evident from his
and his actions and those of his group. His first emphasis is on cleansing the
Muslim lands of non-Muslims and the regimes that support them through
It is permissible, according to him, to kill women and children in support of
Influenced by Zawahari, he is a follower of
Sayyid Qutb. Therefore, he warns Americans against "fornication" and
homosexuality and he is a rather blatant anti-Semite. He considered that the
Taleban state run by Mullah Omar in Afghanistan was an exemplar of a proper
Islamic state. One of his sons describes him as cruel and evil.ref
Terror attacks associated with Osama Bin Laden
Several major terror attacks can be definitely attributed to Osama Bin Laden
These include the August 7, 1998 truck bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and
Kenya that took hundreds of lives. This was apparently the work of Ayman
Zawahiri, Bin Laden's second in command, and the
Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
The US responded by a massive missile attack in Afghanistan and Sudan. The
attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant was evidently based on faulty
intelligence. The attack attack in Afghanistan struck the Al-Qaeda camp, but
according to one of his sons, Osama Bin Laden had gotten advance notice of the
attack, probably from Pakistani intelligence, and evacuated the camp two hours earlier.ref
On October 12, 2000, a suicide boat exploded a shaped charge against the hull
of the USS Cole anchored in the port of Aden, killing 17 sailors. This was
evidently the work of Al-Qaeda
assisted by Sudan. ref
The most dramatic attacks perpetrated by Al-Qaeda
and Osama Bin Laden, of course were the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which
a two hijacked airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York, and a
third crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC, killing 2,974 persons
and injuring over 6,000. Bin Laden admitted responsibility for these attacks in
, and many of the perpetrators were arrested and convicted, but that did not
prevent conspiracy theorists from continuing to insist that the attacks were the
work of the Israeli Mossad, the CIA or the FBI.
and Osama Bin Laden was probably involved in the 1995 attempt to assassinate
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sudan, since that attack has been linked to
Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
and Osama Bin Laden are involved to an unknown extent in financing and arming
the organization known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, responsible for numerous brutal
bombings and headed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi until his death on June 7, 2006.
Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda
probably indirectly inspired and may have aided several other attacks. The 2002 terror attacks in
Bali, Indonesia were evidently financed by Osama Bin Laden.ref
Some of the same persons were evidently involved in the 2005 Bali attacks, and
therefore it is logical to suspect involvement of Al-Qaeda
there. Terror strikes in Morocco and Algeria
have also been attributed to Al-Qaeda
or claimed by them and Al-Qaeda
members have been arrested there.
was also implicated in the London bombings of July 7 and July 21 2005, as well
as the Madrid bombings of March 11, 2004. However, it has never been possible to
prove actual involvement rather than "inspiration."
Osama Bin Laden has not made a public statement or appearance in several
years, and there are rumors that he is dead. In an interview with David Frost,ref
Benazir Bhutto made a reference to Omar Sheikh, whom she said had "murdered Osama
Bin Laden." But subsequently she referred to Osama Bin Laden as still
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Further Information: Wright,
Lawrence, The Looming Tower : Al-Qaeda And The Road To 9/11, New York :