Born on 10th March 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Osama Bin Laden was the founder of the most infamous terrorist organization of all times, Al Qaeda. His father was the owner of the biggest construction company in the kingdom which provided for his privileged and cosseted upbringing. He attended college at king Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah. During his college days he became a follower of the radical pan-Islamist scholar Abdullah Azzam, who believed that all Muslims should rise up in jihad, or holy war, to create a single Islamic state. This idea appealed to the young bin Laden, who resented what he saw as a growing Western influence on Middle Eastern life.
In the late 1970s along with Azzam he traveled to Afghanistan to spread the word of the Muslim brotherhood. In 1979 the Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. Not long after, they both fled to Peshawar to join the resistance. But instead of fighting, they used their extensive connections to win financial and moral support for the Mujahideen, The Crusaders. They conducted all these activities through their new found organization, called The Maktab al-Khidamat, which also served as a global recruitment network. More importantly, it was through this organization that bin Laden and his associates realized that it was possible to put pan Islamism (a Caliphate) into practice.
In 1988, bin Laden created al-Qaida. Just the next year the Soviets grew weak and withdrew from Afghanistan. It was in that year itself that Osama started his journey all over the Middle East to gain followers and sponsors for their plans in the years to come. But now the Saudi Royal Family also had the support of the US. They tried to keep Osama as quiet as possible fearing that he might cause trouble for the kingdom. Soon after Iraq Invaded Kuwait the Saudis turned to America for help, thereby adding insult to injury. Furious, bin Laden vowed that one day it would be al-Qaeda not America that would prove to be ‘The Master of the World’.
In the next year bin Laden left Saudi Arabia for Sudan. After spending a year there for preparations al-Qaeda struck for the first time: A bomb exploded in a hotel in Aden, Yemen that housed American troops on their way to a peacekeeping mission in Somalia. They trained and armed the Somali rebels who killed 18 American servicemen in 1993. They were also linked to the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center(a failed attempt).
In order to get more recruits and evade the authorities, bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996. Meanwhile, the scale of al-Qaida’s attacks continued to increase. On August 7, 1998, bombs exploded simultaneously at the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, where 213 people were killed and 4,500 were injured, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where 11 people were killed and 85 were injured. Al-Qaida took credit for the bombings. Then, on October 12, 2000, a small boat loaded with explosives plowed into the hull of the U.S.S. Cole, an American naval destroyer docked off the coast of Yemen. 17 sailors were killed and 38 were injured. Bin Laden took credit for that incident as well. These actions were condemned all over the globe. Meanwhile, al-Qaida operatives were busy planning the biggest attack of all: the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Even in the frenzy of the post-September 11 “global war on terror,” bin Laden eluded capture. For almost ten years, he remained in hiding, issuing taunts over radio and television, recruiting enthusiastic young jihadis to his cause and plotting new attacks. The propaganda of bin Laden attracted recruits even from the USA. Meanwhile, the CIA and other intelligence officials searched in vain for his hiding place.
Finally, in August 2010, they traced bin Laden to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 35 miles from Islamabad. For months, CIA agents watched the house while drones photographed it from the sky. Finally, it was time to move. On May 2, 2011 (May 1 in the United States), a team of Navy SEALs burst into the compound. They found the al-Qaida leader in an upstairs bedroom with a pistol and an assault rifle nearby and shot him in the head and chest, killing him instantly. “Justice,” said President Obama in a televised address to the nation that night, “has been done.” A famous feat indeed.
Osama’s college professor Abdullah Azzam was a dedicated supporter and preacher of jihad. It was he who introduced Osama to jihad and soon Osama became his faithful follower. In Afghanistan after working alongside the mujahedeen Osama realized that to stop the western influence and to spread Islam, Jihad was the only option. When the Saudis turned to America for protection instead of Al Qaida after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Osama was furious. That motivated Osama to take up arms against America. Also, there’s a tradition of the American army not to leave a base after its establishment. They never left their base in Iraq too. That acted as oil for the wildfire that was Osama.
There’s a famous saying the goes like this: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s savior. What everyone fails to understand is his state of mind. According to him, he was just trying to save the red countries from the West. Everyone just went on and on by branding him a terrorist. Nobody still even tries to know why and how he still gathers so much support. Remember that Osama was not an uneducated man. To Osama, the American use of force in the middle east was an act of terrorism. It’s upon us to judge this guy. His actions cannot be justified, but can the USA justify theirs?
In collaboration with wake Up to Terrorism. Visit the page wake Up to Terrorism on facebook : www.facebook.com/wakeUpToTerrorism