The name Osama Bin Laden became synonymous with terrorism and death. Every American can still remember what they were doing that fateful day of September 11, 2001. He orchestrated the deadliest terrorist attack in the world by bombing the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, which led to the death of thousands of Americans and foreign nationals from 77 countries.
Osama Bin Laden Facts
1. He was referred to as “the slave child” in the Bin Laden’s huge family.
An interesting fact about Osama Bin Laden is that he was the 17th child from more than 20 siblings his father had with different women. His father was a wealthy construction tycoon in Saudi Arabia. In the family, he was called “the slave child” not because he was their slave, but it pertained to his mother’s ancestry. His mother is a Yemeni immigrant from Syria and that did not sit well with the lineage-obsessed Saudis. Out of all his siblings, he was known to be the only one who did not study abroad. Although recently released documents by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) revealed that as a teen, he went to the United Kingdom for about 3 months for “studying.” Analysts believed this limited exposure had an impact on his negative perspective on the western world.
2. Bin Laden fought in the Soviet-Afghan war in 1981
During the Soviet-Afghan war, he joined his former teacher Abdullah Azzam in fighting the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) in 1981. Using his own money, mostly inherited from his father, he brought in arms and recruited freedom fighters through a group called Maktab al-Khidamat. It consisted mostly of foreign Muslims known as “Afghan Arabs.”
3. He founded Al-Qaeda in 1988
With the huge number of volunteer fighters he was able to gather during the Soviet-Afghan war, Bin Laden along with Abdullah Azzam established Al-Qaeda. It is an Islamist militant group providing financial and military support in toppling down corrupt Islamic governments and opposing any western presence in the Arab region. Al-Qaeda was responsible for the series of bombing of several embassies, the 9/11 attacks as well as targeting U. S. troops stationed around the world.
4. Bin Laden Issued a Fatwa, calling for the death of all Americans around the world
In 1998, he issued a Fatwa entitled, “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders.” Fatwas are rulings or opinions that are handed down by Islamic religious leaders to their believers. Bin Laden gave his Muslim followers the license to kill all Americans and its allies, civilian or military, around the world. He emphasized that it was their rightful duty to do so and that God will reward them with their sacrifices, an important fact about Osama Bin Laden. He believed that a Holy war was needed to force the United States military presence out of Saudi Arabia and to stop its meddling in other Arab nations particularly that of Iraq.
5. Osama Bin Laden planned and orchestrated the 9/11 attacks in the United States
Bin Laden directed his Al-Qaeda militants to hijack four commercial planes to be used for suicide missions on September 11, 2001. Two planes struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City killing all the passengers as well as everyone inside the buildings. The third plane targeted the Pentagon killing the occupants of the West side of the military headquarters along with all the passengers of the plane. The fourth one crashed in Pennsylvania. No one knew the intended target, but analysts believed the hijackers tried to target the White House, the U.S. Capitol, or Camp David. At first, Bin Laden denied that he had a hand on it but later on recanted and said he was solely responsible for the terrorist attacks.
6. He refused to differentiate between civilian and military targets with Al-Qaeda’s war with America
Osama Bin Laden masterminded many violent, indiscriminate killings of Americans and allies around the world since he founded the Islamist militant group. Al-Qaeda continuously targeted many non-Islamic believers, men and women, regardless of age, sex, and political beliefs. During his 1998 interview with ABC reporter John Miller, he said that, “We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets in this fatwa.” He argued that since the American bombs that were used in wars also could not differentiate infants, women, and military targets, so why should he discriminate. He firmly believed that killing non-Islamic believers were justified if it was done in vengeance, an interesting fact about Osama Bin Laden.
7. Bin Laden included in the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List in 2001
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to create its very first list of the most wanted terrorists in America. This was not something new to Bin Laden, as he was already on the list of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives in 1998 for bombing American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
8. He was declared a global terrorist along with all the members of Al-Qaeda by the United Nations
In 1999, the United Nations Security Council issued resolutions declaring Osama Bin Laden and his known associates as terrorists. Several sanction measures were given to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the sanction measures including Freeze Assets, Travel Ban, and Arms Embargo were also imposed to any individual around the world that may have facilitated activities in behalf, in the name, or in support of Al-Qaeda.
9. Osama Bin Laden was killed at 54 by U.S. Navy SEALs
After a nearly-decade long global manhunt, the 54-yr old Bin Laden was killed at a residential compound in Pakistan. The United States of America sent a 25-member SEAL team collectively known as SEAL Team Six to do the job. Under the orders of then President Barack Obama, Operation Neptune Spear commenced on May 2, 2011, and just after 1:00 a.m., the most wanted man in America died. It took SEAL Team Six just 40 minutes to successfully complete their mission. Although upon entering the compound, it only took the U.S. forces 9 minutes to locate and kill Bin Laden.
10. A courier suspected by the U.S. intelligence officers got Bin Laden killed
Before Operation Neptune Spear was planned, it took so many years of global intelligence work to get hold of his location. Bin Laden was so careful in how he communicated with his family and associates. After the bombing of his bases back in 1998, tracked through a satellite phone used by one of his associates, he no longer use any communication gadgets. An interesting fact about Osama Bin Laden is that he relied heavily on the use of couriers to avoid detection not only by his enemies but also by his foot soldiers and commanders. In 2007, a specific courier sparked interest and suspicion from the CIA officials. After 3 years, through interrogation, wired tap conversations, and surveillance, the CIA was able to locate Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
His reason for declaring a global jihad or holy war may be seen as heroic from the standpoint of his Islamist militant followers. However, the devastation Osama Bin Laden unleashed to the innocent victims around the world particularly in the United States would always make him the “Face of Terrorism” in the 21st century.
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