Osama bin Laden
Born in 1957 he is among the eldest of 50 siblings. His mother was Syrian and his father, Mohammed Awad bin Laden, was probably from South Yemen. Mohammed immigrated to Saudi Arabia in the 1930’s and worked at a porter (laborer) at the shipping port. Eventually Mohammed developed himself into the construction business, became close with the Royal family and took on building palaces for them by undercutting the competition. He was very successful at this and built up a respected enterprise and amassed great wealth, largely due to his support of King Faisal in the 1960’s.
As a father he was strict and domineering. His family was raised with strong Islamic principles. The bin Laden family, in fact, is credited with reconstruction of all three Islamic Mosques in Saudi Arabia. Mohammed also hosted many Islamic Pilgrimages (it is required that all Muslims eventually go to Mecca on Pilgrimage) and played host to many Islamic Clerics.
Osama bin Laden attended the Islamic University in Saudi Arabia and among his teachers were two very prestigious Muslims: Abdullah Azzam and writer-philosopher Mohammed Quttub.
Many of the people Osama bin Laden would eventually hook up with he had meet in his younger years at the “Hajj gatherings.”
Osama traveled to Pakistan and later Afghanistan early during the Soviet invasion and occupation. Osama toured the refugee camps and met with various influential people we would normally term as “radicals” who were actively involved in the civil conflict, even though they weren’t necessarily Afghans.
Between 1982 and 1986 Osama established a small base in Afghanistan that served as a half-way point or “guest house” for those would were travelling to the training camps in Afghanistan as a part of the Jihad Service Bureau. He brought construction equipment with him from Saudi Arabia to help out in the efforts of opposing the Soviets. He was spending 8 months a year in Afghanistan at this point in time. Starting around 1986 Osama actually started setting up his own training camps in Afghanistan. This vast complex of “guest house” that served as a mid-point between other nations and Afghanistan and the training camps established by Osama eventually became known as the “base,” which in Arabic is: Al-Qa'edah (pronounced Al KI Duh).
As least one Middle Eastern intelligence analyst has stated that Osama bin Laden actually received training from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
After the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989 Osama bin Laden traveled back there but became trapped in that country because of a travel ban imposed on him by the Arab world. He had been preaching of jihad (originally a struggle or defence of one's land or religion, and as it has become known today in the West, a Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels) in South Yemen and was not too happy with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. At that time Hussein was in good favor with much of the Arab and Islamic leadership and Osama bin Laden was one of the hold-outs. In fact, Osama warned leaders, weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, that Saddam was planning an invasion.
Osama then proposed how to prevent Saddam from taking his invasion even further, into Saudi Arabia. The King viewed this was some interest but then along came the Americans.
Apparently Osama had expected his forces and equipment would be the cavalry charging through the desert to help save Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations against the aggressive bad man Saddam Hussein, but now the Americans were coming and Osama was no match for their mobility. Some experts tend to think this came as somewhat of an ego blow to bin Laden who hoped to become the savior of the region. The General Patton in the war to keep Hussein under control.
Osama called for all to come to his camps in Afghanistan to train and some 4,000 did arrive. He even succeeded in getting a fatwah (a religious opinion) from one Islamic cleric, but the ruling authorities of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab or Islamic nations were not happy with his actions and kept telling bin Laden to keep quiet and have a low profile. At one point bin Laden’s farm in Jeddah by authorities, but Osama was not there on that occasion and he protested to the Prince, who apologized and said he was not aware of that action.
In 1991 one of Osama’s brothers close to the royal family managed a political coupe which allowed Osama to leave Afghanistan, go to Pakistan and eventually come home. Osama did leave the country, but he would not come home and apologized to his brother for the grief he cause him and the royal family.
He eventually went to the Sudan because of their strong Islamic tenants and need for new construction, which bin Laden was an expert at doing. Eventually Saudi intelligence tried to assassinate him, but he eluded their trap. The Sudanese eventually pulled his citizenship and asked him to leave around 1994.
Back in Afghanistan bin Laden sought refuge with those involved with the Talaban. Sometime between his arrival there around 1995 and before 1996 Osama bin Laden went public with his first declaration of war on the United States.
All in all Osama bin Laden has been directly linked or indirectly linked with attacks and anti-American actions since around 1989. Many attackers trained at his camps then took terrorist actions against United States targets in various nations around the worlds. Embassy bombings, car bombs and other attacks.
Osama bin Laden has been directly linked to attacks like the one against the war ship the USS Cole and according to the 9-11 Commission he had been planning the attacks since the late 1990's. Originally the attacks were to go against many targets in many cities, plus foreign airliners in flight, but he realized he couldn't coordinate such a broad scale project so they planned for just 5 attack points of which only 4 succeeded. Two against the twin World Trade Center towers (see our front cover picture), the Pentagon and the twarted planned crash into either the White House or Capital building in Washington, DC.
Osama bin Laden is known as a down-to-earth, generous person who climbs into the dirt with people. He cooks for the troops, fights next to them, reads a lot, he’s a media monitor who keeps up on what is happening in the world, he is highly education, well mannered, conscientious and probably would make a good impression on any American who met him, so long as they didn’t know who he was!
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