Usāmah bin Muhammad bin 'Awad bin Lādin (Arabic: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن; born March 10, 1957 , most commonly known as Osama bin Laden or Usama bin Laden (أسامة بن لادن) is an Islamic radical best known internationally as the primary founder of al-Qaeda. Born in Saudi Arabia, he is a member of the very wealthy bin Laden family. Bin Laden became well known in the Arab world during the 1980s, when he organized a group of Arab mujahideen to assist in fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Under his leadership since al-Qaeda's founding in the 1990s, the group has carried out multiple terrorist attacks worldwide, most notably the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, which together killed at least 2,986 people total and caused the collapse of both World Trade Center towers as well as World Trade Center 7. In addition, they have been linked to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, the USS Cole bombing, the Bali nightclub bombings, the Madrid bombings, as well as bombings in the Jordanian capital of Amman and in Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
According to the 1998 fatwa cosigned by Osama bin Laden, his opposition to the United States is based on the former presence of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, which were established during Operation Desert Shield in 1991. Bin Laden had offered to lead his mujahideen in defending Saudi Arabia against possible Iraqi incursions during the Gulf War, and believed the Saudi monarchy was letting "infidels" defile Muslim holy land by allowing U.S. troops into the country. The U.S. would withdraw its troops from the bases in 2003, stating that they were no longer necessary for the current campaign in Iraq.
The aforementioned fatwa condemned U.S. and Western support for Israel as well. It also condemned any Arab state that was allied with the U.S., specifically focusing on Saudi Arabia. More recently, bin Laden has cited the ongoing U.S.-led coalition's presence in Afghanistan and Iraq as justification for al-Qaeda's actions.
On June 7, 1999, bin Laden became the 456th person listed on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, following his indictment along with others for capital crimes in the 1998 embassy attacks. Years later, on October 10, 2001, bin Laden topped the initial list of the FBI's top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists, which was released to the public by the President of the United States George W. Bush, in direct response to the attacks of 9/11, but which was again based on the indictment for the 1998 embassy attack. Bin Laden was among a group of thirteen fugitive terrorists wanted on that list for questioning about the 1998 embassy bombings. Bin Laden has not been formally indicted, and evidence has not been mentioned that he was involved, in the United States criminal justice system for the September 11, 2001 attacks; he is officially still only a suspect in 'other terrorist attacks throughout the world'. Bin Laden remains the only fugitive ever to be listed on both FBI fugitive lists.
The United States Department of State, through the Rewards For Justice Program, is offering a reward of 25 million US dollars for information leading to the capture or conviction of bin Laden. An additional reward of $2 million is being offered by the Air Line Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.
Family and childhood
Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In a 1998 interview, later televised on Al Jazeera, he gave his birth date as March 10, 1957. His father was the late Muhammed Awad bin Laden, a wealthy businessman involved in construction and with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before World War I, Muhammed, originally poor and uneducated, emigrated from Hadhramaut, on the south coast of Yemen, to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he began to work as a porter. Starting his own business in 1930, Muhammed built his fortune as a building contractor for the Saudi royal family during the 1950s.
There is no definitive account of the number of children born to Muhammed bin Laden, but the number is generally put at 54. In addition, various accounts place Osama as his seventeenth son. Muhammed bin Laden was married 22 times, although to no more than four women at a time per Sharia law. Osama was born the only son of Muhammed bin Laden's tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas, nee Alia Ghanem, who had been born in Syria.
al-Attas stepfamily in Jeddah
Osama's parents divorced soon after he was born, according to Khaled M. Batarfi, a senior editor at the Al Madina newspaper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia who knew Osama during the 1970s. Osama's mother then married a man named Muhammad al-Attas, who worked at the bin Laden company. The couple had four children, and Osama lived in the new household with three half brothers and one half sister from the mother's side.
Bin laden was raised as a devout Sunni Muslim. But from 1968 to 1976, he attended the relatively secular Al-Thager Model School, the most prestigious high school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, called "the school of the élite." However, during the 1960s, King Faisal had welcomed exiled teachers from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan, so that around 1971 or 1972, at Saudi high schools and universities, it was common to find many of whom had become involved with dissident members of the Muslim Brotherhood. During that time, bin Laden was exposed to those educators' banned political teachings during after-school Islamic study groups.
A Saudi Al Thagher biology teacher named Ahmed Badeeb later became chief of staff in the 1980s for Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was then the head of Saudi intelligence which sent hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Afghan war effort against the Soviets. Badeeb worked occasionally with bin Laden on the Afghan frontier, and has said that they enjoyed a warm personal relationship, with its origins in their shared experiences at Al Thagher.
As a college student at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, bin Laden studied civil engineering and business administration. He earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979 and also one in economics and public administration, in 1981.
At the university, bin Laden was influenced by several professors with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Among them was Muhammad Qutb, an Egyptian, whose brother, the late Sayyid Qutb, had written one of the Brotherhood’s most important tracts about anti-Western jihad, "Signposts on the Road." The university at Jeddah is also where bin Laden met Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Azzam was a teacher there while bin Laden was in attendance, and he would later play a crucial role working with bin Laden in the Afghanistan resistance against the Soviets.
There are reports that in the early 1970s, bin Laden traveled with his family to the West, including to Oxford and to Sweden. The authenticity of these reports is in question , with some saying he rarely, if ever, left the Middle East.
Married life in Jeddah
In 1974, at the age of 17, bin Laden married his first wife, Najwa Ghanem, his mother's niece, and a first cousin, who was from Syria. The marriage ceremony took place in Najwa's native land, at Latakia, in northwestern Syria. After the birth of his first son, Abdallah, they moved from his mother's house to a building in the Al-Aziziyah district of Jeddah.
Although Bin Laden reportedly married four other women, he divorced one, Umm Ali bin Laden (i.e., the mother of Ali), a university lecturer, who studied in Saudi Arabia, and spent holidays in Khartoum, Sudan, where Osama later settled during his exile in the years 1991 to 1996. According to Wisal al Turabi, the wife of Sudan's ruler Hassan Turabi, Umm Ali taught Islam to some families in Riyadh, an upscale neighborhood in Khartoum, Sudan. The three latter wives of Osama bin Laden were all university lecturers, highly educated, and from distinguished families. According to Wisal al Turabi, he married the other three because they were "spinsters," who "were going to go without marrying in this world. So he married them for the Word of God." According to Abu Jandal, bin Laden's former chief bodyguard, Osama's wife Umm Ali asked Osama for a divorce when they still lived in Sudan, because she said that she "could not continue to live in an austere way and in hardship."
Kola Boof affair in 1996
A minor Sudanese-American author, Kola Boof, claims she was kept against her will as a mistress for bin Laden during four months in 1996, in Marrakech, Morocco. Boof first denied the relationship, then later admitted to it, but claimed that it was after he initially raped her, then kept her a virtual prisoner. Later, in attempting to dispel skeptics' claims that the story was a hoax, Boof and her publicists noted that the bin Laden relationship event was backed up by Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli, an Italian who grew up in Tangiers, and who is owner of La Maison Arabe luxury hotel, which he refurbished over two years, and where bin Laden reputedly kept Boof in Marrakech. They also claim that FOX News fact-checked and verified the story. On August 23, 2003, Kola Boof appeared in an interview on the FOX News program "Big Story Weekend with Rita Cosby". More recently, Boof and her publicists claim to want to downplay the 1996 relationship.
The purported relationship with Boof first became public in October 2002, when it was revealed in the Spanish press by "a female columnist," who was later identified as a former roommate of Boof's, named Lourdes Harris. On October 24, 2002, the "Matthew Norman Diary" column item in the London newspaper The Guardian then quoted Kola Boof giving a response to the Spanish press reports: "A female columnist in Spain is telling people that I dated/had an affair with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s," she began. "That's bullshit. I hate to admit I met him, because it's akin to saying you know Hitler, but I barely knew Bin Laden from 1996-98. When we met in Marrakesh in 1996, I was a starlet and he was trying to screw every female in town." Later that month, The New York Times wrote an article about Boof, for which she declined to cooperate, because of the perceived negative angle. Nadeem Quttub, a former diplomat of the Sudanese government who helped bin Laden build roads in Sudan, told the BBC that Kola Boof was with Bin Laden "willingly" and miscarried their child in May 1996.
In her 2006 autobiography (as excerpted in Harper's Magazine, September 2006, pp. 22-24), Boof describes bin Laden as obsessed with Whitney Houston, smoking lots of marijuana, and forcing her to dance naked to Van Halen. Peter Bergen, a biographer of Bin Laden, has called Boof "delusional". He says that Osama Bin Laden was never in Morocco in 1996 - in fact, he says that Bin Laden has never been to Morocco at all.
Bin Laden has fathered at least 24 children. His wife, Najwa reportedly had 11 children by bin Laden, including Abdallah (born c. 1976), Omar, Saad and Muhammad. Muhammad bin Laden (born c. 1983) married the daughter of the late al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef in January 2001, at Kandahar, Afghanistan. Omar and Abdallah reportedly organized the U.S. branch of the World Congress of Muslim Youth in Falls Church, Virginia during the 1990s. Abdallah runs his own firm, called Fame Advertising, which has offices near a Starbucks in a two-story strip mall on the busy Palestine Street, in Jeddah.
In 1994 bin Laden's family publicly disowned him, shortly before the Saudi Arabian government revoked his citizenship for anti-government activity. He attended his son's wedding in January 2001, but since September 11, he is believed only to have had contact with his mother on one occasion.
Appearance and manner
Bin Laden is often described as lanky; the FBI describes him as tall and thin, being 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) to 6 ft 5 in (195 cm) tall and weighing about 160 pounds (75 kg). He has an olive complexion, is left-handed, and usually walks with a cane. He wears a plain white turban and no longer dons the traditional Saudi male headdress.
In terms of personality, Bin Laden is described as a soft-spoken, mild mannered man, ; and despite his rhetoric, he is said to be charming, polite, and respectful.
It is rumored that he suffers from various medical conditions including kidney disease, some requiring him to have access to advanced medical facilities.
Usage variations of Osama's name
Osama's name is transliterated in many ways. Osama bin Laden is used by most English-language mass media. The FBI and Fox News use Usama bin Laden, which is often abbreviated to UBL. Less common renderings include Ussamah Bin Ladin and Oussama Ben Laden (French-language mass media). The latter part of the name can also be found as Binladen or Binladin.
Strictly speaking, under Arabic linguistic conventions, it is incorrect to use "bin Laden" in a similar manner as a Western surname. His full name means "Osama, son of Mohammed, son of 'Awad, son of Laden". However, the bin Laden family (or "Binladin," as they prefer to be known) generally use the name as a surname in the Western style. Although Arabic conventions dictate that he be referred to as "Osama" or "Osama bin Laden", using "bin Laden" is in accordance with the family's own usage of the name and is the near-universal convention in Western references to him.
Bin Laden also has several commonly used aliases and nicknames, including the Prince, Al-Amir, Abu Abdallah, Sheikh Al-Mujahid the Director and Samaritan.
Military and militant activity
1979 was a pivotal year for Islamic fundamentalism, with three huge events in the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was connected, at least indirectly, to the latter two of them. First, on January 16, 1979 the Iranian Revolution began with the forced exile of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, which then brought about the world's first modern Muslim theocracy under the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Second, a half-brother of Osama was implicated in the November 20, 1979 Grand Mosque Seizure at Mecca, in western Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam. The hostage-taking, two week siege, and bloody ending shocked the Muslim world, as hundreds were killed in the ensuing battles and executions. The event was explained as a fundamentalist dissident revolt against the Saudi regime. The Iran hostage crisis had begun only weeks earlier, on November 4, 1979 when a mob of students stormed and seized the U.S. embassy. Immediately following the Mecca event, Iran blamed the U.S., and angry Islamic mobs then burned two more U.S. embassies to the ground, in Islamabad, Pakistan, and at Tripoli, Libya. And then in the third major event of the year, on December 25, 1979 the Soviet Union, attempting to suppress an Islamic rebellion, deployed the 40th Army into Afghanistan, in support of advisors it already had in place there.
Afghan Jihad resisting the Soviet invasion
Bin Laden's wealth and connections assisted his interest in supporting the mujahideen, Muslim guerrillas fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. By 1980, his old teacher from the university in Jeddah, Abdullah Azzam, had relocated to Peshawar, a major border city of a million people in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. From there, Azzam was able to organize resistance directly on the Afghan frontier. Peshawar is only 15 km east of the historic Khyber Pass, through the Safed Koh mountains, connected to the southeastern edge of the Hindu Kush range. This route became the major avenue of inserting foreign fighters and material support into eastern Afghanistan for the resistance against the Soviets, and also in later years.
After bin Laden graduated from the university in Jeddah in 1980, he also came to live for a time in Peshawar, according to Rahimullah Yusufzai, executive editor of the English-language daily The News International in 2001. "Azam prevailed on him to come and use his money" for training recruits, reported Yusufzai. In the early 1980s, bin Laden lived at several addresses in and around Arbab Road, a narrow street in the University Town neighbourhood in western Peshawar, Yusufzai said. Nearby in Gulshan Iqbal Road is the Arab mosque that Abdullah Azzam used as the jihad center, according to a Reuters inquiry in the neighborhood. Years later, in 1989, Azzam was blown up in a massive car bombing outside the mosque. Bin Laden is thought to be a suspect in that assassination, because of a rift in the direction of the jihad at that time.
By 1984, with Azzam, bin Laden had established an organization named Maktab al-Khadamat (MAK, Office of Order in English), which funneled money, arms and Muslim fighters from around the world into the Afghan war. Through al-Khadamat, bin Laden's inherited family fortune paid for air tickets and accommodation, dealt with paperwork with Pakistani authorities and provided other such services for the jihad fighters. In running al-Khadamat, bin Laden set up a network of couriers travelling between Afghanistan and Peshawar, which continued to remain active after 2001, according to Yusufzai.
Some have said that MAK was supported by the governments of Pakistan, the United States and Saudi Arabia, and that the three countries channeled their supplies through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This account is vehemently denied by the U.S. government, which maintains that U.S. aid went only to Afghan fighters, and that Afghan Arabs had their own sources of funding, an account also supported by Al Qaeda itself .
Robin Cook, former leader of the British House of Commons and Foreign Secretary from 1997-2001, wrote in The Guardian on Friday, July 8, 2005,
Osama bin Laden
Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.
Osama bin Laden
For a while Osama worked at the Services Office working with Abdallah Azzam on Jihad Magazine, a magazine that gave information about the war with the soviets and interviewed mujahideen. As time passed, Aymen Al Zawahiri encouraged Osama to split away from Abdallah Azzam. Osama formed his own army of mujahideen and fought the soviets. One of his most significant battles was the battle of Jaji, which was not a major fight, but it earned him a reputation as a fighter.
Formation of al-Qaeda
Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin in Caliphate robes delivering the Jihad Against Zionists and Crusaders fatwa
Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin in Caliphate robes delivering the Jihad Against Zionists and Crusaders fatwa
By 1988, bin Laden had split from the MAK based on strategic differences. While Azzam and his MAK organization acted as support for the Afghan fighters and provided relief to refugees and injured, bin Laden wanted a more military role in which the Arab fighters would not only be trained and equipped by the organization but also be commanded on the battlefield by Arabic. One of the main points leading to the split and the creation of al-Qaeda was the insistence of Azzam that Arab fighters be integrated among the Afghan fighting groups instead of forming their separate fighting force.
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden offered to help defend Saudi Arabia (with 12,000 armed men) but was rebuffed by the Saudi government. Bin Laden publicly denounced his government's dependence on the U.S. military and demanded an end to the presence of foreign military bases in the country. According to reports (by the BBC and others), the 1990/91 deployment of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia in connection with the Gulf War profoundly shocked and revolted bin Laden and other Islamist militants because the Saudi government claims legitimacy based on their role as guardians of the sacred Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina. After the Gulf War cease-fire agreement left Saddam Hussein remaining in power in Iraq, the ongoing presence of long-term bases for non-Muslim U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia continued to undermine the Saudi rulers' perceived legitimacy and inflamed anti-government Islamist militants, including bin Laden. Bin Laden's increasingly strident criticisms of the Saudi monarchy led the government to expel him to Sudan in 1991. Bin Laden was accepted in Sudan by the ruling National Islamic Front (NIF), which may have hoped he could aid them through his wealth and construction company.
Assisted by donations funneled through business and charitable fronts such as Benevolence International, established by his brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden established a new base for mujahideen operations in Khartoum, Sudan to disseminate Islamist philosophy and recruit operatives in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States. Bin Laden also invested in business ventures, such as al-Hajira, a construction company that built roads throughout Sudan, and Wadi al-Aqiq, an agricultural corporation that farmed hundreds of thousands of acres of sorghum, gum Arabic, sesame and sunflowers in Sudan's central Gezira province. Bin Laden's operations in Sudan were protected by the powerful Sudanese NIF government figure Hassan al Turabi. While in Sudan, bin Laden married one of Turabi's nieces.
The funding from bin Laden's Sudan ventures was used to run several training camps on his farmland, where Islamist militants received, from former Afghan mujahideen, instruction in firearms use and the use of explosives .
Around this time, bin Laden and his associates began developing and executing a series of meticulously-planned terrorist attacks. In 1995, the Saudi Arabian government stripped bin Laden of his citizenship after he claimed responsibility for attacks on U.S. and Saudi military bases in Riyadh and Dahran.
Refuge in Afghanistan
Sudanese officials, whose government was under international sanctions offered to extradite bin Laden to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1990s. However, Saudi Arabia refused because of the political difficulties of accepting such a controversial figure into their custody. Consequently, in May 1996, under increasing pressure from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States, Sudan expelled bin Laden to Afghanistan. He chartered a plane and flew to Kabul before settling in Jalalabad after being invited by leading Afghan Mujahideen figure, Abu Sayyaf. After spending a few months in the border region hosted by local leaders, bin Laden forged a close relationship with some of the leaders of Afghanistan's new Taliban government, notably Mullah Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden supported the Taliban government with financial and paramilitary assistance and, in 1997, he moved to Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold.
Bin Laden is suspected of funding the November 1997 Luxor massacre, Egypt conducted by Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian militant Islamist group. The Egyptian government convicted bin Laden's colleague, one of the leaders of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, and sentenced him to death in absentia for the massacre.
Attacks on United States targets
Bin Laden's first strike against United States citizens was the December 29, 1992, bombing of the Gold Mihor Hotel in Aden, Yemen, which killed a Yemeni hotel employee and an Austrian national and seriously injured the Austrian's wife. About 100 U.S. soldiers, part of Operation Restore Hope, had been staying at the hotel for two weeks but had left two days earlier for Somalia. U.S. investigations have allegedly established financial and logistical links between bin Laden and Ramzi Yousef, prime suspect of the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Bin Laden is also connected to the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu that killed 18 U.S. troops in Somalia and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar military complex in Saudi Arabia that left 21 U.S. soldiers dead.
It is widely believed that Al-Qaeda was responsible for plots in Asia orchestrated by Ramzi Yousef, who was later arrested in Pakistan, brought to the United States and convicted in November 1997 for masterminding the World Trade Center bombing. The plots in Asia, including those to assassinate the Pope, during his late 1994 visit to the Philippines, and President Clinton, during his visit there in early 1995, all failed; also included among the plots were those to bomb the US and Israeli embassies in Manila in late 1994 and to bomb US flights across the Pacific in 1995. Bin Laden and the Indonesian militant, known as Hambali, allegedly funded, then aborted the Operation Bojinka conspiracy when police discovered the plot in Manila, Philippines, on January 6, 1995.
In 1998, bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, (a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad), co-signed a fatwa (binding religious edict) in the name of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, declaring:
Osama bin Laden
[t]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies civilians and military - is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the holy mosque (in Makka) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah'.
Osama bin Laden
The September 11, 2001 Attacks
Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, most U.S. government officials named bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization as the prime suspect. However, bin Laden allegedly denied direct responsibility for the attacks, and in a written response prepared for the Karachi-based Pakistani daily newspaper Ummat, published on September 28, 2001, he stated:
Osama bin Laden
I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. […] The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself […] They can be anyone, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the U.S. itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction..
Osama bin Laden
Regardless of the authenticity of this quote, it is unclear whether Bin Laden considered any U.S. citizens innocent be they men, women or children as he had earlier declared all U.S. citizens legitimate targets for murder.
On December 13, 2001, the United States State Department released a videotape apparently showing bin Laden speaking with a small group of associates somewhere in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion removed the Taliban regime from power. The State Department claims that the tape is authentic and was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during a raid on a house in Jalalabad. Although its authenticity has been questioned by some viewers, especially those critical of U.S. policy, the tape appears to implicate bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the September 11 attacks and was aired on many television channels all over the world, with an accompanying English translation provided by the United States Defense Department. In this translation, bin Laden appears to display knowledge of the timing of the actual attack a few days in advance and mentions asking each of the attackers "to go America" for a "martyrdom operation."
In a closed door session in October 2001, the United States presented evidence to NATO of bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks. NATO's general secretary, George Robertson, described the evidence as "clear and compelling," based upon phone records and bank records involving al Qaeda members, leading the organization to invoke, for the first time in its history, Article 5 in the NATO pact. Article 5 states that any attack on a member state is considered an attack against the entire alliance. The evidence presented to NATO was never made available to the public.
In 2004, however, the U.S. government commission investigating the September 11 attacks officially concluded that the attacks were conceived and implemented by al-Qaida operatives. However, again, no hard evidence was presented of bin Laden's involvement. The issue of funding was specifically excluded from consideration by the commission. The consensus view within the United States remains that al-Qaeda was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Based on a Reuters article, Al-Jazeera reported that a website audiotape purportedly of bin Laden claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. The speaker claimed he knew that Zacarias Moussaoui was not part of the 9/11 conspiracy because he personally gave the assignments to the attackers.
On October 29, 2004, shortly before the U.S. presidential election, the Arab television network, Al Jazeera, broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama Bin Laden addressing the people of the United States, in which he accepted responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks. Bin Laden warned the American people, “If you play havoc with our security, we play havoc with yours.” He said he was motivated to attack the World Trade Center towers because of the U.S. alliance with Israel. “The events which affected me directly go back to 1982…when America gave the Israelis the green light to invade Lebanon.…As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me that the unjust should suffer the same—that the towers in America must be destroyed so that America gets a taste of what we went through, so that it will stop killing our children and women.” For more information, refer to the Wikipedia entry "2004 Osama bin Laden video". Al Jazeera released its transcript, a copy of which may be found at the wikisource entry "Text of 2004 Osama bin Laden videotape".
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has bin Laden listed as one of their 'most wanted' persons in connection with the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya; his wanted poster is here. His description is as follows:
Osama bin Laden
Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.
Osama bin Laden
Indictment for attacks on U.S. military facilities
According to the Washington Post, five Americans and two Indians were killed in the 13 November 1995 truck bombing of a US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh. Bin Laden denied involvement but praised the attack.
In August, 1996, a grand jury investigation against bin Laden began in New York. On June 8, 1998 they issued a sealed indictment, charging him with "conspiracy to attack defense utilities of the United States." Prosecutors further charged that bin Laden is the head of the terrorist organization called al Qaeda, and that he was a major financial backer of Islamic terrorists worldwide.
Indictment for involvement in 1998 U.S. embassy bombings
On August 7, 1998 two simultaneous explosions occurred at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bomb in Nairobi, Kenya killed 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injured more than 4,500 . The bomb in Dar es Salaam killed 11 and injures 85. No Americans died in the Tanzania bombing .
In response to the 1998 United States embassy bombings following the fatwa, President Bill Clinton ordered a freeze on assets linked to bin Laden. Clinton also signed an executive order, authorizing bin Laden's arrest or assassination. In August 1998, the U.S. launched an attack using cruise missiles. The attack failed to harm bin Laden but killed 19 other people.
On November 4, 1998, after the embassy bombings in Africa, Osama Bin Laden and several Al Qaeda members were indicted in U.S. criminal court . Osama bin Laden was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on charges of Murder of U.S. Nationals Outside the United States, Conspiracy to Murder U.S. Nationals Outside the United States, and Attacks on a Federal Facility Resulting in Death. The U.S. offered a US $5 million reward for information leading to bin Laden's apprehension or conviction.
The Taliban protected Osama bin laden from extradition requests by the U.S. variably claiming that Bin Laden had "gone missing" in Afghanistan or that Washington “cannot provide any evidence or any proof” that bin Laden is involved in terrorist activities and that “Without any evidence, bin Laden is a man without sin... he is a free man” . Evidence against Bin Laden included courtroom testimony and satellite phone records .
In 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton convinced the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in an attempt to force the Taliban to extradite him.
Rumored death December 2001
According to rumors reported in the Pakistani press, Bin Laden died in December 2001 of pulmonary complications secondary to catastrophic kidney failure , in the absence of available hygienic dialysis. His death was speculated on by the Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
The Egyptian opposition party newspaper al-Wafd published an article on December 26, 2001, describing bin Laden's supposed funeral. In it, the paper states that bin Laden had died of "serious complications in the lungs" on December 16, citing an unnamed Taliban official's comments to The Observer of Pakistan.
Claims of sightings of Osama bin Laden have been made since December 2001, however these sources are typically not verifiable, and have at times placed Osama in different locations during overlapping time periods.
Osama Bin Laden is often stated to be residing within fortified caves in the rugged Tora Bora region that straddles the border between Pakistan and Afganistan. The latest reported claim regarding his location occurred on May 24, 2006, when ABC News reported about rumors that Bin Laden was sighted in the Kumrat Valley in the Kohistan District of Pakistan. . The region is 40 miles east of the Afghan–Pakistani border.
On July 3, 2006, it was reported that late 2005 the CIA closed a unit called Alec Station dedicated to the search for and capture of Osama Bin Laden. According to the New York Times, Michael Scheuer, a former senior C.I.A. official who was the first head of the unit, said the move reflected a view within the agency that "Mr. Bin Laden" was no longer the threat he once was.