Osama (or Usama) bin Laden was a cowardly terrorist, who had been hiding in Afghanistan with the tacit support of the Taliban
. This criminal and mass murderer wass considered - by all but extremist Muslims
- an embarassment to Islam
. In fact, most Muslims rejected Bin Laden's fundamentalist, twisted version of Islam (see Wahhabism
A 1998 U.S. government indictment
against Bin Laden says, ''In approximately 1989, bin Laden and co-defendant Muhammad Atef founded 'al Qaeda,' ''an international terrorist group ... which was dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence.'' Al Qaeda (al-Qa'ida) is included on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
From their actions it is clear that bin Laden and his followers have forsook what Muslims refer to as ''greater Jihad'' - ''the personal struggle each Muslim wages to be a true believer and follower.''
- in favor of ''lesser jihad,'' ''the traditional holy war launched in the name of God against the enemies of God and Islam.''
). In other words, bin Laden and his fellow criminals could not even be considered true Muslims.
On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives in a covert operation ordered by United States President Barack Obama. Shortly after his death, bin Laden's body was buried at sea. Al-Qaeda acknowledged his death on May 6, 2011, vowing to retaliate.
The Taliban gave sanctuary to bin Laden in 1996 mainly they say because of his role in war efforts that led to the withdrawal of Soviet Union forces from Afghanistan after 10-years of occupation.
Bin Laden grievances:
- US and British forces in Arabia
- US support for Israel
- Western attacks and sanctions against Iraq
- 'Un-Islamic' Arab regimes
Bin Laden is believed to be at the center of an international coalition of Islamic radicals. Al Qaeda has forged alliances with like-minded fundamentalist groups such as Egypt's Al Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah, Sudan's National Islamic Front, and jihad groups in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, according to the U.S. government. Bin Laden's organization also has ties to the ''Islamic Group,'' led at one time by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence since his 1995 conviction for a thwarted plot to blow up various New York landmarks. Two of Sheik Rahman's sons joined forces with bin Laden in the late 1990s.
The U.S. alleges that from 1992 on, bin Laden and other al Qaeda members targeted U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen and those stationed in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia.
In October 1993, 18 U.S. servicemen involved in the U.S. humanitarian relief effort in Somalia were killed during an operation in Mogadishu. Their bodies were dragged through the streets.
Bin Laden was indicted in 1996 on charges of training the people involved in the attack and in a 1997 interview with CNN, bin Laden said his followers, together with local Muslims, killed those troops.
U.S. law enforcement also alleges that bin Laden has ties to failed attacks on two hotels in Yemen where U.S. troops stayed en route to Somalia.
On August 7, 1998, eight years after the U.S. deployment in Saudi Arabia, a pair of truck bombs exploded outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Bin Laden has denied responsibility, but prosecutors allege his culpability is evident on faxes sent by his London cell to at least three international media outlets. They also point to incriminating statements by certain alleged embassy bombers who are admitted al Qaeda members.
Osama Bin Laden is both
one of the CIA's most wanted men, and a hero for many young people in the Arab world.
He and his associates are being sought by the US on charges of international terrorism, including in connection with the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Africa and this year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
In May this year a US jury convicted four men believed to be linked with Mr Bin Laden of plotting the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Mr Bin Laden, an immensely wealthy and private man, has been granted a safe haven by Afghanistan's ruling Taleban
During his time in hiding, he has called for a holy war against the US, and for the killing of Americans and Jews. He is reported to be able to rally around him up to 3,000 fighters.
He is also suspected of helping to set up Islamic
training centres to prepare soldiers to fight in Chechnya and other parts of the former Soviet Union.
Sponsored by US and Pakistan
His power is founded on a personal fortune earned by his family's construction business in Saudi Arabia.
Born in Saudi Arabia to a Yemeni family, Mr Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia in 1979 to fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Afghan jihad was backed with American dollars and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
He received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian.
While in Afghanistan, he founded the Maktab al-Khidimat (MAK), which recruited fighters from around the world and imported equipment to aid the Afghan resistance against the Soviet army.
Egyptians, Lebanese, Turks and others - numbering thousands in Mr Bin Laden's estimate - joined their Afghan Muslim
brothers in the struggle against an ideology that spurned religion.
Turned against the US
After the Soviet withdrawal, the ''Arab Afghans'', as Mr Bin Laden's faction came to be called, turned their fire against the US and its allies in the Middle East.
Mr Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to work in the family construction business, but was expelled in 1991 because of his anti-government activities there.
He spent the next five years in Sudan until US pressure prompted the Sudanese Government to expel him, whereupon Mr Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan.
Terrorism experts say Mr Bin Laden has been using his millions to fund attacks against the US.
The US State Department calls him ''one of the most significant sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today''.
According to the US, Mr Bin Laden was involved in at least three major attacks - the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1996 killing of 19 US soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
BBC correspondent James Robbins says Mr Bin Laden had ''all but admitted involvement'' in the Saudi Arabia killings.
Some experts say he is part of an international Islamic front, bringing together Saudi, Egyptian and other groups.
Their rallying cry is the liberation of Islam's three holiest places - Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
The few outsiders who have met Osama Bin Laden describe him as modest, almost shy. He rarely gives interviews.
He is believed to be in his 40s, and to have at least three wives.
Collected sayings of Mohammed
, called hadiths, and other writings may reconcile some of the apparent conflicts. One says: "If people do good to you, do good to them; and if they mistreat you, still refrain from being unjust." Another story tells of Mohammed ordering his soldiers not to mistreat women and children, even during a battle. Both the Quran
and hadiths offer examples of respect given to Christians
- both considered along with Muslims as "people of the Book."
But Mr. bin Laden and some other terrorists say the less militant parts of Muslim teachings simply don't apply to their war with the West. This belief can be traced to a few well-known figures of relatively recent Muslim history.
Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab was a contemporary of George Washington. His supporters say he was a religious reformer who cleaned up a corrupted version of Islam practiced in his part of Arabia. Opponents call him a political opportunist who used religion as a weapon. In either case, he declared that Islam had been corrupted a generation or so after the death of Mohammed, and he condemned any theology, customs or practices developed after that.
It was as if a Christian suggested that Augustine and Aquinas and every later Christian theologian were heretics. Or as if an Orthodox Jewish scholar challenged the validity of the Talmud.
Mr. al-Wahhab and his supporters took over what is now Saudi Arabia. Their descendents still control the area and are among the most influential religious leaders in much of the Middle East.
» See also the articles in our news articles database
Bin Laden, millionaire with a dangerous grudge
CNN profile, Sep. 12, 2001
The Case Against Bin Laden
BBC, Oct. 5, 2001
Declarartion of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places
(Pro) Bin Laden's August, 1996 declaration of war.
Osama Bin Laden
ABC News overview
Osama Bin Laden
Overview by the Anti-Defamation League
Osama Bin Laden FAQ
NBC News, Sep. 11, 2001
Osama Bin Ladin : Marketing Terrorism
By the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism
Inside Osama Bin Laden
UPI, Jan. 4, 2001
Interview with Bin Laden
ABC News, Jan. 12, 1999
Prime Suspect: Osama Bin Laden
USA Today, Sep. 12, 2001
Portraits of Osama bin Laden
TIME magazine: ''How the Saudi terrorist uses the media to further his agenda.'' - March 4, 1999
Profile of a private terrorist
ABC News, Jan. 12, 1999
Understanding Islamic Terrorism: Muhammad, Islam and Terrorism
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
BBC profile, Sep. 11, 2001
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