Osama bin Laden is an extremist terrorist who planned the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and intends to drive Western influence out of the Muslim world.
Who was Osama bin Laden?
Osama bin Laden joined the Afghan resistance when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. After the Soviet withdrawal, bin Laden formed the al-Qaeda network which carried out global strikes against Western interests, culminating in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed at a terrorist compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Bin Laden was born Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden on March 10, 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to construction billionaire Mohammed Awad bin Laden and Mohammed’s 10th wife, Alia Ghanem, of Syrian descent. Bin Laden was the seventh of 50 children born to Mohammad, but the only child from his father’s marriage to Alia Ghanem.
Bin Laden’s father began his working life in the 1930s in relative poverty, working as a porter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During his time as a young laborer, Mohammed impressed the royal family with his work on their palaces, which he built at far less cost than any of his competitors, and with far greater attention to detail. . In the 1960s, he had managed to land several large government contracts to build extensions on the mosques of Mecca, Medina and Al-Aqsa. He became a very influential figure in Jeddah; when the city fell on financial hardship, Mohammed used his wealth to pay all the salaries of officials throughout the kingdom for a period of six months. As a result, Mohammed bin Laden became highly respected in his community.
As a father, he was very strict, insisting that all his children live under the same roof and observe a rigid religious and moral code. He treated his children, especially his sons, as if they were adults, and demanded that they become confident and self-sufficient from an early age.
Bin Laden, however, barely knew his father until his parents divorced. After his family separated, bin Laden’s mother took him to live with her new husband, Muhammad al-Attas. The couple had four children together, and Bin Laden spent most of his childhood living with his in-laws and attending Al Thagher Model School, at the time Jedda’s most prestigious high school. Her biological father would marry twice more, until his death in a charter plane crash in September 1967.
At the age of 14, bin Laden was recognized as an outstanding, if somewhat shy, student at Al Thagher. As a result, he received a personal invitation to join a small Islamic study group with the promise of earning extra credits. Bin Laden, along with the sons of several prominent families in Jedda, were told that the group would memorize the entire Quran, a prestigious achievement, by the time they graduated from the institution. But the group quickly lost its original purpose, and during this time bin Laden received the beginnings of an education in some of the tenets of violent jihad.
The teacher who educated the children, influenced in part by a sect of Islam called The Brotherhood, began teaching his students the importance of instituting pure Islamic law in the Arab world. Using parables with often violent ends, their teacher explained that the most faithful observers of Islam would institute the holy word – even if it meant supporting death and destruction. By the second year of their studies, bin Laden and his friends had openly adopted the attitude and style of militant Islamic teenagers. They preached the importance of instituting pure Islamic law in Al Thagher; untrimmed beards; and wore shorter pants and wrinkled shirts imitating the Prophet’s robe.
Bin Laden was pushed to grow quite quickly during his time at Al Thagher. When he was 18, he married his first cousin, 14-year-old Najwa Ghanem, who had been promised to him. Bin Laden graduated from Al Thager in 1976, the same year his first child, a son named Abdullah, was born. He then headed to King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where some say he graduated with a degree in public administration in 1981. Others say he graduated with a degree in civil engineering, with the aim to join the family business.
From hero to exile
But Bin Laden would have little chance of using his degree. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, bin Laden joined the Afghan resistance, believing it was his duty as a Muslim to fight the occupation. He moved to Peshawar, Afghanistan, and with help from the United States under the CIA’s Operation Cyclone program, he began training a mujahideen, a group of Islamic jihadists. After the Soviets withdrew from the country in 1989, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia as a hero, and the United States called him and his soldiers “freedom fighters”.
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Yet bin Laden was quickly disillusioned with what he believed to be a corrupt Saudi government, and his frustration with the US occupation of Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War led to a growing rift between bin Laden and the leaders of his country. Bin Laden has spoken publicly against the Saudi government’s reliance on US troops, believing that their presence desecrates sacred ground. After several attempts to silence bin Laden, the Saudis banned the former hero. He lived in exile in Sudan from 1992.
Formation of Al-Qaeda
In 1993, bin Laden had formed a secret network known as al-Qaeda (Arabic for “base”), made up of Muslim militants he had met while serving in Afghanistan. Soldiers were recruited for their ability to listen, their good manners, their obedience and their commitment to follow their superiors. Their goal was to champion the jihadist cause worldwide, righting perceived wrongs under pure Islamic law. Under bin Laden’s leadership, the group funded and began staging global attacks around the world. In 1994, after continuing to champion extremist jihad, the Saudi government forced bin Laden to renounce his Saudi citizenship and confiscated his passport. His family also disowned him, cutting off his $7 million annual allowance.
Undeterred, bin Laden began to execute his violent plans, with the aim of dragging the United States into war. His hope was that Muslims, united by battle, would create a single, true Islamic state. In 1996, to achieve its goal, al-Qaeda detonated truck bombs against US forces occupied in Saudi Arabia. The following year they claimed responsibility for murdering tourists in Egypt, and in 1998 they bombed US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania, killing nearly 300 people in the process.
Bin Laden’s actions abroad did not go unnoticed by the Sudanese government, and he was exiled from their country in 1996. Unable to return to Saudi Arabia, bin Laden sought refuge in Afghanistan, where he received the protection from the ruling Taliban militia. While under Taliban protection, bin Laden issued a series of fatwas, religious statements, which declared a holy war against the United States. Among the charges against the offending country were plundering natural resources in the Muslim world and aiding enemies of Islam.
September 11 attacks
In 2001, bin Laden attempted, and often successfully executed, attacks on several countries using the aid of al-Qaeda-trained terrorists and its seemingly bottomless financial resources. On September 11, 2001, Bin Laden struck his most devastating blow in the United States. A small group of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda jihadists hijacked four commercial passenger planes in the United States, two of which collided with the World Trade Center towers. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane was successfully taken over and crashed in Pennsylvania. The final aircraft’s intended target was thought to be the United States Capitol. In total, the attack killed nearly 3,000 civilians.
Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, the government led by President George W. Bush formed a coalition that succeeded in overthrowing the Taliban. Bin Laden went into hiding and for more than 10 years was hunted along the Afghan-Pakistani border. In 2004, shortly before President Bush’s re-election, Bin Laden released a videotaped message claiming responsibility for the September 11 attacks.
On May 2, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed at a terrorist compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In an eight-month plan promulgated by the president and spearheaded by CIA director Leon Panetta and US special forces, bin Laden was shot multiple times. His body was taken as proof of his death and DNA testing revealed that the body was in fact his. “For more than two decades, bin Laden was the leader and symbol of al-Qaeda and continued to plot attacks against our country, our friends and our allies,” President Obama said in a late-night speech. the night before Bin Laden’s death. death. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda.” He added that “his passing should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity”.