Who is Osama Bin Laden?

Sherry Holetzky

Osama bin Laden, also referred to by some as Usama, is one of many children born to Saudi Arabian multi-millionaire Mohammed Awad bin Laden. Osama, the seventeenth child of over fifty fathered by the senior bin Laden, enjoyed the wealth and connections of his father. He is college-educated and worked for a time in the family construction business, known as the bin Laden Group. As one of many heirs, Osama inherited millions of dollars when his father was killed in a plane crash in 1968. Osama bin Laden was eleven years old.

Osama bin Laden used jihadist fighters in Afghanistan to build the first generation of the Al Qaeda network.
Osama bin Laden used jihadist fighters in Afghanistan to build the first generation of the Al Qaeda network.

Around the age of 22, bin Laden became involved in the Soviet-Afghan conflict. After the defeat of the Russians in 1988, he formed Al Qaeda, which soon thereafter became a global network. Al Queda means “the base” and is aligned with several other groups also named on the U.S. list of known terrorist organizations.

The bin Laden family fortune was largely derived from construction projects, including a renovation it completed of the Ka'aba in the Saudi city of Mecca.
The bin Laden family fortune was largely derived from construction projects, including a renovation it completed of the Ka'aba in the Saudi city of Mecca.

As the world became more volatile, U.S. troops took position in Saudi Arabia, which angered Osama bin Laden. He plotted against and tried to overthrow the ruling royal family. He was deported and later stripped of citizenship in 1994. Around the same time, bin Laden was thought to be organizing attacks in Sudan. However, as pressure from the United States government aimed at Sudan’s leadership increased, bin Laden once again returned to Afghanistan, joining forces with the Taliban.

About this time, bin Laden's anti-American language grew increasingly threatening. In 1996, bin Laden declared war or “jihad” against the United States, calling for Muslims worldwide to join together to remove the “heretics” from the Arabian Peninsula. Bin Laden has been interviewed by reporters and has issued videotapes from time to time warning of further attacks against America and its allies. In 1999, he was placed on the Ten Most Wanted list. This is a list of the most sought after fugitives, produced by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Osama bin Laden has issued threats against Christians, Jews, and even other Muslims whom he doesn’t feel live up to his standards or share his radicalized Islamic beliefs. There is evidence linking Osama bin Laden and his Al Queda network, as well as several other terrorist organizations, to many attacks, including the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States in which thousands of Americans were brutally murdered. On the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks, Osama bin Laden was still at large.

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