Full Biography of Osama bin Laden
Born: March 10, 1957
Residence: Riyadh, Riyadh Mintaqah, Saudi Arabia
Rank: 1st General Emir of Al-Qaeda
Nationality: Saudi Arabian (1957–1994)
Succeeded by: Ayman al-Zawahiri
Co-founder of: Al-Qaeda (With Abdullah Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri), 1988
Co-founder of : Maktab al-Khidamat, 1984
Height: 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in) Spouse(s) : Najwa Ghanhem, Khadijah Sharif, Khairiah Sabar, Siham Sabar, Amal Ahmed al-Sadah
Children: 20 to 26
Religion: Islam (Wahhabism/Salafism)
Battles/wars : Battle of Tora Bora, War in North-West Pakistan,Operation Neptune Spear †
Died: May 2, 2011 (aged 54), Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Cause of death : Shot by US forces
Who is Osama bin Laden?
Osama bin Laden Early Life
Osama bin Laden was born Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden on March 10, 1957, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to construction billionaire Mohammed Awad bin Laden and Mohammed’s 10th wife, Syrian-born Alia Ghanem. Osama was the seventh of 50 children born to Muhammad bin Laden, but the only child from his father’s marriage to Alia Ghanem.
Osama’s father started his professional life in the 1930s in relative poverty, working as a porter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During his time as a young laborer, Mohammed impressed the royal family with his work on their palaces, which he built at a much lower cost than any of his competitors could, and with a much greater attention to detail. By the 1960s, he had managed to land several large government contracts to build extensions on the Mecca, Medina and Al-Aqsa mosques.
Osama bin Laden became a highly influential figure in Jeddah; when the city fell on hard financial times, Mohammed used his wealth to pay all civil servants’ wages for the entire kingdom for a six-month period. As a result, Mohammed bin Laden became well respected in his community.
As a father, he was very strict, insisting that all his children live under one roof and observe a rigid religious and moral code. He dealt with his children, especially his sons, as if they were adults, and demanded they become confident and self-sufficient at an early age.
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At the age of 14, Osama was recognized as an outstanding, if somewhat shy, student at Al Thagher. As a result, Osama bin Laden received a personal invitation to join a small Islamic study group with the promise of earning extra credit. Osama, along with the sons of several prominent Jedda families, were told the group would memorize the entire Koran, a prestigious accomplishment, by the time they graduated from the institution. But the group soon lost its original focus, and during this time Osama received the beginnings of an education in some of the principles of violent jihad.
The teacher who educated the children, influenced in part by a sect of Islam called The Brotherhood, began instructing his pupils in the importance of instituting a pure, Islamic law around the Arab world. Using parables with often-violent endings, their teacher explained that the most loyal observers of Islam would institute the holy word—even if it meant supporting death and destruction.
By the second year of their studies, Osama bin Laden and his friends had openly adopted the attitude and styles of teen Islamic activists. They preached the importance of instituting a pure Islamic law at Al Thagher; grew untrimmed beards; and wore shorter pants and wrinkled shirts in imitation of the Prophet’s dress.
Osama was pushed to grow up rather quickly during his time at Al Thagher. At the age of 18 he married his first cousin, 14-year-old Najwa Ghanem, who had been promised to him. Osama graduated from Al Thager in 1976, the same year his first child, a son named Abdullah, was born. He then headed to King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where some say he received a degree in public administration in 1981. Others claim he received a degree in civil engineering, in an effort to join the family business.
Return From Hero to Exile
But Osama would have little chance to use his degree. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Osama joined the Afghan resistance, believing it was his duty as a Muslim to fight the occupation. He relocated to Peshawar, Afghanistan, and using aid from the United States under the CIA program Operation Cyclone, he began training a mujahideen, a group of Islamic jihadists. After the Soviets withdrew from the country in 1989, Osama returned to Saudi Arabia as a hero, and the United States referred to him and his soldiers as “Freedom Fighters.”
Formation of al Qaeda
By 1993, Osama had formed a secret network known as al Qaeda (Arabic for “the Base”), comprised of militant Muslims he had met while serving in Afghanistan. Soldiers were recruited for their ability to listen, their good manners, obedience, and their pledge to follow their superiors.
Their goal was to take up the jihadist cause around the world, righting perceived wrongs under the accordance of pure, Islamic law. Under Osama’s leadership, the group funded and began organizing global attacks worldwide. By 1994, after continued advocacy of extremist jihad, the Saudi government forced Osama to relinquish his Saudi citizenship, and confiscated his passport. His family also disowned him, cutting off his $7 million yearly stipend.
Undeterred, Osama began executing his violent plans, with the goal of drawing the United States into war. His hope was that Muslims, unified by the battle, would create a single, true Islamic state. In 1996, to forward his goal, al Qaeda detonated truck bombs against U.S. occupied forces in Saudi Arabia. The next year, they claimed responsibility for killing tourists in Egypt, and in 1998 they bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania, killing nearly 300 people in the process.
Osama’s actions abroad did not go unnoticed by the Sudanese government, and he was exiled from their country in 1996. Not able to return to Saudi Arabia, Osama took refuge in Afghanistan, where he received protection from the country’s ruling Taliban militia. While under the protection of the Taliban, Osama issued a series of fatwas, religious statements, which declared a holy war against the United States. Among the accusations reared at the offending country were the pillaging of natural resources in the Muslim world, and assisting the enemies of Islam.
9/11 Attack and Final Plans
By 2001, Osama had attempted, and often successfully executed attacks on several countries using the help of Al Qaeda trained terrorists and his seemingly bottomless financial resources.
On September 11, 2001, Osama would deliver his most devastating blow to the United States. A small group of Osama’s Al Qaeda jihadists hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft in the United States, two of which collided into the World Trade Center towers. Another aircraft crashed into The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
A fourth plane was successfully retaken, and crashed in Pennsylvania. The intended target of the final aircraft was believed to be the United States Capitol. In all, the attack killed nearly 3,000 civilians.
Whereabouts just before his death
In April 2011, various intelligence outlets were able to pinpoint bin Laden’s suspected location near Abbottabad, Pakistan. It was previously believed that bin Laden was hiding near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but he was found 160 km (100 mi) away in a three-story mansion in Abbottabad at 34°10′9.51″N 73°14′32.78″E. Bin Laden’s mansion was located 1.3 km (0.8 mi) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy. Google Earth maps show that the compound was not present in 2001, but it was present on images taken in 2005.
Osama bin Laden’s Death & Reactions
Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 AM local time (4:00 PM eastern time) by a United States military special operations unit.
The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or informally by its former name, SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command, with support from CIA operatives on the ground.
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The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, reports at the time stated that U.S. forces had taken bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for positive identification, then buried it at sea, in accordance with Islamic law, within 24 hours of his death.
Subsequent reporting has called this account into question—citing, for example, the absence of evidence that there was an imam on board the USS Carl Vinson, where the burial was said to have taken place.
Allegations of Pakistani protection of bin Laden
Bin Laden was killed within the fortified complex of buildings that was probably built for him, and had reportedly been his home for at least five years. The compound was located less than a mile from Pakistan Military Academy and less than 100 kilometers’ drive from Pakistan’s capital.
While the United States and Pakistan governments both claimed, and later maintained, that no Pakistani officials, including senior military leaders, knew Bin Laden’s whereabouts or had prior knowledge of the U.S. strike, Carlotta Gall, writing in The New York Times Magazine in 2014, reported that ISI Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.
In a 2015 London Review of Books article, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh asserted—citing U.S. sources—that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Pasha knew of the U.S. mission in advance, and authorized the helicopters delivering the SEALs to enter Pakistani airspace; and that the CIA learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer, who was paid an estimated $25 million for the information. Both stories were denied by U.S. and Pakistani officials.
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