Osama bin Laden was the founder and chief of Muslim militant organization al-Qaeda. He was a son of a Saudi billionaire but chose to adopt militancy after taking part in the Soviet Afghan War (1980s). Due to his motives and activities of his organized, Saudi Arabia cancelled his citizenship in 1994. The most famous terror activity of his organization was the September 11 attacks which initiated the global War on Terror. He was later killed by US Special Forces on 2nd May 2011 in a Pakistani city, Abbottabad.
Osama bin Laden was born on 10th March 1957 in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). His father Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden was a billionaire and founder of construction company Saudi Binladin Group. His mother’s name was Hamida Ibrahim. In his childhood, Osama bin Laden attended Al-Thager Model School in Jeddah and in 1979 he earned a degree in Civil Engineering. In 1974, Osama married his first cousin Najwa Ghanem in Lakakia (Syria). Osama bin Laden was a thin and tall man with around 6 and half feet height.
Ideology of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden was born to a conservative family having close relations with Saudi monarchy. Apart from Salafism, Osama bin Laden was also heavily influenced by Qutbism. He had the belief that Zionism is the main cause of unrest in the world while the governments in USA and western countries are under the influence of Jews as politics, media and economic institutes of USA are under direct control of Jews.
In 1998 after bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden admitted to Al Jazeera that he believe that targeting civilians of enemy countries are allowed in Islam.
Contribution in Soviet War in Afghanistan
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 urged Muslims around the world to participate in the armed struggle of Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation. Osama bin Laden as one amongst those who started to support the armed struggle against soviet occupation in the very beginning.
Osama bin Laden went to Pakistan in 1979 and joined a Palestinian scholar Abdullah Azzam to support the mujahideen. Osama supported the resistance against soviet occupation through his money. Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam founded Maktab al-Khidamat in 1984 in order to supply money, fighters and arms from the Arab world to Afghanistan. Osama also established camps inside tribal areas (FATA) and NWFP province (now KPK) of Pakistan in order to recruit and train foreign fighters.
Formation of al-Qaeda
In August 1988, Osama bin Laden formed al Qaeda which was joined by many people of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and other Arab fighters. The purpose of formation of this organization was to prepare for a global jihad.
Rift with Saudi Rulers
After end of Soviet war in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia in 1990 as a hero. But the relations between Saudi rulers and Osama bin Laden soon deteriorated after Iraqi President Saddam Hussain’s occupation of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia invited forces of USA in Saudi Arabia in order to save the kingdom from Saddam Hussain’s aggression and to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Osama became displeased with the decision as he believed it was un Islamic for non Muslims to reside in the country with holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and offered support of his group to the Saudi rulers against Saddam’s aggression. But his offer was rejected by Saudi authorities.
Osama bin Laden continuously criticized Saudi monarchy due to which Saudi Arabia expelled him from the country and Osama bin Laden settled in Sudan in 1992. In 1994, Saudi Arabia cancelled his Saudi nationality.
Return to Afghanistan
Osama bin Laden used Sudan for organization of his group. He also invested heavily on the infrastructure of roads, agriculture and other businesses in Sudan while his generous attitude towards needy made him popular among common Sudanese. Egyptian Islamic Jihad was the main faction of al Qaeda and after its failed assassination attempt on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 1995, the Sudanese government exiled all the members of EIJ from Sudan.
Later in 1996, Sudan also expelled Osama bin Laden and other members of his organization due to mounting pressure from USA, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Osama bin Laden reached Jalalabad (Afghanistan) in May 1996.
In September 1996, Taliban captured Kabul and Osama bin Laden allied with the Taliban regime and Afghanistan became a safe haven for Osama and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda also took part in several offensives of Taliban against Northern Alliance.
Declaration of war against USA
Osama bin Laden declared a war against America for its alleged occupation of the Land of Two Holy Places due to its military bases in Saudi Arabia against the danger of Iraqi aggression. He declared this war through a fatwa in 1996.
Osama bin Laden signed a second fatwa in February 1998 along with leaders of several militant organizations in which he declared to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the Holy Mosque (in Makkah) by targeting Americans and their allies. This fatwa was clear declaration of war against USA and its allies for their support of Israel and bases of USA in Saudi Arabia.
On 7th August 1998, two truck bombs exploded at US embassies in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) which killed hundreds of people. After these attacks by al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was placed in the list of FBI’s most wanted terrorists. After 1998 US embassy bombings, Osama bin Laden planned several attacks on US but most of them either failed or cause little damage.
Deadliest Attack on USA
On 11th September 2001, 4 passenger planes were hijacked by 19 terrorists in USA. Two of them were burst in to the 2 towers of world trade centre, one hit the wall of Pentagon and the last one crashed in an area near to White House and Capitol. Around 3,000 men died during the attacks. America blamed Osama bin Laden for these attacks and invaded Afghanistan after Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to USA. Osama bin Laden initially in 2002 rejected his involvement in September 11 attacks but later in 2004 he confirmed that he and his organization al Qaeda was behind the terror attacks. The confirmation video tape was released on Qatari TV channel al Jazeera.
Death of Osama bin Laden
After US invasion of Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden managed to escape to Pakistan through Tora Bora mountains in end of 2001 or beginning of 2002. Later, rumors spread about his location in Afghanistan and Pakistan along with his death, capture and ill health condition. But there was no concrete evidence about his whereabouts.
On 2nd May 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces during an operation in Pakistani city of Abbottabad in KPK Province. Osama bin Laden was residing in a hose close to PMA (Pakistan Military Academy). Later, body of Osama bin Laden was buried at sea by USA without mentioning the area.
Place in History
Osama bin Laden was one of the most important personalities of the last decade of 20th Century and the first decade of 21st Century. His role during Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan was praised in general but later he became a controversial figure due to his formation of militant organization al Qaeda, belief of legitimacy of killing of civilians of enemies, efforts of overthrow of several Muslim governments (which he claimed are puppets of West) and support of terrorism in several parts of world.
Most of the world, including many segments in Muslim world, believes that he was a terrorist who committed and supported terrorism in Middle East, USA and several other parts of world. But it is also a reality that large faction of Muslims considers him as hero due to his fighting spirit against world powers and also due to his chosen miserable life despite being a member of a billionaire family. He is a role model for many extremist elements in the Muslim world.