Facts about Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden Biography
Osama bin Laden became the American government’s most wanted criminal after he inspired the attacks on America that took place on September 11, 2001. He eluded capture until he was shot and killed by an American military team in Pakistan nearly 10 years later, on May 2, 2011.
Osama Bin Laden joined the Afghanistan resistance in 1979 and became a commander in the guerilla wars against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. After that war ended, Osama bin Laden founded a loose organization of pro-Islamic terrorists known as al-Qaeda (“the base”). He then joined with Egyptian militants led by Ayman al-Zawahiri to form an international group whose goals included driving the United States out of the Middle East and overthrowing the government of Saudi Arabia.
Attacks which Osama bin Laden is believed to have plotted or inspired include the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1995 truck bombing of a Saudi National Guard training center, and the 1998 explosions at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (Bin Laden was added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitive” list after the embassy attacks.)
Along with captured suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, bin Laden planned the infamous attacks of September 11, 2001, in which hijacked passenger jets were crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Everyone on the planes was killed, and the destruction and collapse of the Twin Towers killed another 3000+ people.
Despite intense American efforts in the Middle East, bin Laden was not found or captured until 2011, when American intelligence learned he was living in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On May 2, 2011, a team of Navy SEALS (known as SEAL Team 6), acting on orders from President Barack Obama, attacked bin Laden’s compound and killed him. Osama bin Laden’s body was taken away by the U.S. forces and buried at sea later that day.
The name of Osama bin Laden is sometimes spelled as Usama bin Laden or Ussamah bin Laden. The FBI preferred to spell his first name as “Usama”… Osama bin Laden was between 6’4″ and 6’6″ tall and weighed “approximately 160 pounds,” said his most-wanted listing from the FBI… Osama Bin Laden was the “17th of 52 children sired by Muhammad Bin Laden–Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest construction magnate,” according to PBS… Osama Bin Laden’s supporter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. bomb strike in Iraq on 7 June 2006… There is no truth to the e-mail rumor that Osama bin Laden was identified as a terrorist by Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987… Osama bin Laden was one of 52 children fathered by Muhammad bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian construction magnate… Osama bin Laden’s neice, Wafah Dufour, posed for a photo shoot in the January 2006 issue of GQ magazine, when she was an aspiring pop musician.
4 Good Links
- From the BBC, with an obituary and many other stories
- His 2011 obituary from The Washington Post
- ABC News has early details from 2011
- A backgrounder on bin Laden's group from The Council on Foreign Relations