Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qa'ida Terrorist Organization

Osama bin Laden  

Who is Osama bin Laden? 

 Osama bin Laden (March 10, 1957-May 1, 2011) was the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, is reported to have been killed by U.S. forces in Islamabad, Pakistan on May 1, 2011. The evening of May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden was killed by an American team in a compound deep inside Pakistan. After a firefight in which bin Laden was killed, the American forces took custody of bin Laden's body.

Osama bin Laden came from a wealthy Saudi Arabian family of Yemeni origin. Bin Laden's father gained his wealth as the owner of one the major construction firms in Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden himself was trained in construction engineering. Osama bin Laden became radicalized largely through two significant events in recent history. The first was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a muslim country. Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan, as did many other young Arab men, to help the Afghans battle the atheistic Communist Soviets. The other radicalizing moment was the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia during and after the Gulf War of 1991.

In bin Laden's particular world view, the Americans were latter-day Crusaders occupying the birthplace of Islam (Saudi Arabia), for the benefit of Christianity and the Zionists (Jews) occupying Palestine and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is holy city to Muslims, as well as to Christians and Jews. Taking the skills and networking contacts he gained in the Afghan War, bin Laden formed an organization he called al-Qaida. In Arabic, al-Qaida means "The Base", or "Foundation." Osama bin Laden intended al-Qaida to be the base or foundation upon which other Islamist individuals and groups could stand upon to wage war against Islam's enemies (Christians, Jews, the West in general, and Shiite Muslims).

The first major attack by al-Qaida that actually brought the group and bin Laden into the American public's view were terrorist bombings in Africa in 1998 that resulted in hundreds of deaths. The targets in those bombings were American Embassies.

Then, in 2000, al-Qaida attacked an American naval ship, the USS Cole, in Aden harbor. His next big attack took place on September 11, 2001, when his operatives hijacked four commercial airliners and launched them into buildings in New York and the Pentagon. In retaliation, the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan, where bin Laden enjoyed protected status as an ally of the Taliban government there.

Ever since the 2001 Invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. has hunted for Osama bin Laden. On May 1, 2001, U.S. Navy Seals helicoptered into Pakistan, assaulted the compound where bin Laden was located, killed him in a firefight, and then" took his body into custody", to use the words of President Obama, who gave a nationally televised speeche announcing the death of bin Laden.


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