Osama bin Laden, public enemy No.1

Osama bin Laden, Public Enemy No.1

This is a good read. It's about the history of bin Ladin and how he/we arrived at this point in our lives.

al-Qa'ida (The Base) Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK - Services Office) International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders Usama Ibn Ladin / Osama bin Laden.

Al-Qa'ida is multi-national, with members from numerous countries and with a worldwide presence. Senior leaders in the organization are also senior leaders in other terrorist organizations, including those designated by the Department of State as foreign terrorist organizations, such as the Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian al-Jihad. Al-Qa'ida seeks a global radicalization of existing Islamic groups and the creation of radical Islamic groups where none exist.

Al-Qa'ida supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and now Kosovo. It also trains members of terrorist organizations from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.

Al-Qa'ida's goal is to "unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs." Bin Ladin has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by force. Al-Qa'ida's goal, therefore, is to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments, which are viewed as corrupt, to drive Western influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

Usama bin Ladin, a multi-millionaire ex-Saudi financier who is a principal source of funding and direction for Al-Qa'ida, has been described by the US Government as "one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today." Usama Bin Ladin was born around 1955 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is the youngest son of Muhammad Bin Ladin, a wealthy Saudi of Yemeni origin and founder of the Bin Ladin Group, a construction firm heavily involved with Saudi Government contracts.

Usama Bin Ladin left Saudi Arabia to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1979. He sponsored and led a number of Arabs fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s he co-founded the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) or Services Office, to help funnel fighters and money to the Afghan resistance in Peshawar with the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdallah Azzam. The MAK ultimately established recruitment centers around the world -- including in the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan -- that enlisted, sheltered, and transported thousands of individuals from over 50 countries to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. It also organized and funded paramilitary training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bin Ladin imported heavy equipment to cut roads and tunnels and to build hospitals and storage depots in Afghanistan. As many as 10,000 Arabs received training and combat experience in Afghanistan. Of these, nearly half were Saudis, with others including more than 3000 Algerians, 2000 Egyptians, and hundreds of others from Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan, Syria and other Muslim states.

Bin Ladin split from Azzam in the late 1980s to extend his campaign to all corners of the globe while Azzam remained focused only on support to Muslims waging military campaigns. Bin Ladin formed a new organization in 1988 called al-Qa'ida -- the military "base." After Azzam was killed by a car bomb in late 1989, the MAK split, with the extremist faction joining Bin Ladin's organization. Bin Ladin returned to work in his family's Jeddah-based construction business after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, but he continued his organization to support opposition movements in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

After Afghanistan, Bin-Ladin ran the Jihad Committee which includes the Egyptian Islamic Group and the Jihad Organization in Yemen, the Pakistani al-Hadith group, the Lebanese Partisans League, the Libyan Islamic Group, Bayt al-Imam Group in Jordan, and the Islamic Group in Algeria. This committee runs the Islamic Information Observatory center in London, which organizes media activity for these organizations, and the Advisory and Reformation Body which also has a bureau in London.

In 1991 he relocated to the Sudan, and in 1994 he was stripped of his Saudi citizenship after Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accused him of supporting subversive groups. Although the Afghan war had ended, al-Qa'ida has remained a formidable organization consisting of mujahedin of many nationalities who had previously fought with Bin Ladin. Many of these have remained loyal to and continue working with him today.

Sudan harbors a number of terrorist groups, although in May 1996 it expelled Bin Laden and members of some terrorist groups under Saudi pressure, and in response to U.S. insistence and to the threat of UN sanctions following Sudan's alleged complicity in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia in 1995.

Bin Laden quickly returned to Afghanistan after leaving Sudan, where his support for and participation in Islamic extremist activities continued. Since departing Sudan he is said to have changed considerably, suspecting that there are plots to murder him, so he reportedly now only trusts only a narrow circle of people. He is reported to act on the premise that attack is the best line of defense, rather than efforts to unify extremist groups.

Prior to the emergence of the Taleban he was functioning and moving around freely while Rabbani and Massood ruled in Kabul. Bin Laden was subsequently reported to be living in Taleban-held Jalalabad in Afghanistan with about 50 of his family members and bodyguards. A few months after his arrival in Afghanistan the Taleban gained control over Jalalabad and Kabul, and launched a campaign against the "Arab Afghans." In February 1997 the Taleban rejected an American agreement to turn Bin Ladin over to them in return for international recognition and obtaining Afghanistan's seat in international organizations. But in early 1997 at least two large bombs were detonated in Jalalabad as part of attempts to assassinate Bin Ladin, including a 19 March 1997 explosion that destroy the police station, killing more than 50 and wounding 150. Bin Ladin subsequently moved to Kandahar from his Jalalabad stronghold as a result of concerns for his personal safety. Kandahar is the stronghold of the Students of the Shari'ah's, and the central residence of the Commander of the Faithful al-Mulla Muhammad 'Umar. The Taleban Islamic State of Afghanistan claimed that they moved him to Kandahar to keep him under strict limitations [according to some reports he was under house arrest], and that he was no longer allowed to use Afghan soil to cause harm to any country, including Saudi Arabia.

Most recently he was reportedly moving between four or five camps in Afghanistan which are the bases for about 200 followers staying with him. He has financed and supported some 600 or 700 other people outside Afghanistan. Bin Laden is said to have established cells of supporters in Yemen, and as of late 1996 it was reported that an additional 2,000 "Afghans" were resident in Somalia and the Ogaden region, with relatively few actually in Afghanistan.

Bin-Ladin provides money to humanitarian organizations and to Islamic publications and groups. He advocates the destruction of the United States, which he sees as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies. Since 1996, his anti-U.S. rhetoric has escalated to the point of calling for worldwide attacks on Americans and allies, including civilians.

Bin-Ladin was involved in operations against the American forces in Somalia in 1993. In 1995 it was reported that Bin Ladin had agreed to finance a "Gulf Battalion" organized by the Iranian Guardians of the Revolution. It was suggested that he had convinced Yemeni fundamentalist leader Shaykh 'Abd-al-Majid al-Zandani, to position elements of the Gulf Battalion in al-Zandani's camps in Yemen for deployment in Gulf countries when circumstances permited.

Osama Bin Laden is suspected by the US of being responsible for 1996 bomb attacks on American service personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In mid-1996 a meeting of various leaders convened by Bin Laden reached a consensus "to use force to confront all foreign forces stationed on Islamic land," and to form a planning committee; a financing, supply, and mobilization committee; and a higher military committee to oversee implementation of the plan. Bin Ladin publicly issued his "Declaration of War" against the United States in August 1996. When anti-U.S. attacks did not materialize immediately, he explained the delay: "If we wanted to carry out small operations, it would have been easy to do so immediately after the statements. Even the nature of the battle requires good preparation." In November 1996 he pronounced as "praiseworthy terrorism" the bombings in Riyadh and at Khobar in Saudi Arabia, promising that other attacks would follow. He admitted carrying out attacks on U.S. military personnel in Somalia and Yemen, declaring that "we used to hunt them down in Mogadishu."

He stated in an interview broadcast in February 1997 that "if someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters." In February 1998, Bin Ladin announced the creation of a new alliance of terrorist organizations, the "International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders." The Front included the Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Harakat ul-Ansar, and two other groups. The Front declared its intention to attack Americans and our allies, including civilians, anywhere in the world. By at least February 1998, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad had effectively merged with al Qaeda and joined with al Qaeda in targeting American civilians.

In May 1998, he stated at a press conference in Afghanistan that we would see the results of his threats "in a few weeks."

On 07 August 1998 a car bomb exploded behind the US Embassy, killing 291 persons and wounding about 5,000. The majority of the casualties were Kenyan citizens. Twelve US citizens died, and six were injured in the attack. A group calling itself the "Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places" immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Nairobi and a near-simultaneous explosion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. US officials believe the group is a cover name used by Usama Bin Ladin' al-Qaida organization. Indictments were returned in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Usama Bin Ladin and 11 other individuals for these and other terrorist acts against US citizens. At yearend, four of the indicted- Wadih El Hage, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, and Mohammed Sadeeck Odeh-were being held in New York, while Khalid al-Fawwaz remained in the United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States. The other suspects remain at large. The Government of Kenya cooperated closely with the United States in the criminal investigation of the bombing. On 20 August 1998, President Clinton amended Executive Order 12947 to add Usama Bin Ladin and his key associates to the list of terrorists, thus blocking their US assets-including property and bank accounts-and prohibiting all US financial transactions with them. Bin Laden remains in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban, an ultra-conservative Islamic militia that controls most of that country. The United States conducted a bombing run -- Operation Infinite Reach -- against bin Laden's facilities there on 20 August 1998.

Bin-Ladin's investments include companies involved in property management, maritime transport, aircraft rental, public works, contracting and other commercial activities in a number of countries. His investments in Sudan include construction and agricultural projects, with other commercial activities in Somalia, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. His European interests are managed by lawyers in Switzerland, which makes his financial dealings and support to terrorism difficult, but not impossible, to follow.

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council on 15 October 1999 demanded that the Afghan faction, known as the Taliban, turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities in a country where he would be brought to justice. In that context, it decided that on 14 November 1999 all States shall freeze funds and prohibit the take-off and landing of Taliban-owned aircraft unless or until the Taliban complies with that demand. Since the Taliban did not comply with this obligation, the measures of the resolution have entered into effect.

Taliban representatives had stated that they were totally opposed to terrorism, but that Mr. bin Laden was a guest, that he had become a resident of Afghanistan prior to the Taliban taking control, and that he no longer had communication with his followers. At the same time, the official spokesman of Al-Qaida has stated that they have been supplying fighters to Chechnya. It seems that they are active not only in Chechnya, but have worried the other Central Asian republics, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and even Iran. They are certainly turning up in Kashmir, which is one of the important flash points in the world. In mid-December 1999 the Jordanian police arrested members of a cell planning attacks against western tourists. This cell was linked to Usama bin Laden. On 14 December 1999 Customs agents arrested an Algerian national smuggling almost 50 pounds of explosive materials and detonating devices into the United States. The other Algerians subsequently arrested in connection with this plot apparently were "Afghan alumni," trained with the mujahedin in Afghanistan and also linked to Usama bin Laden.

In testimony 02 February 2000 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet said Usama Bin Ladin "is still foremost" among terrorists planning attacks against the United States and that more than half of 24 terrorists brought to justice since July 1998 "were associates" of Bin Ladin's Al-Qa'ida organization. He said that despite some disruptions, U.S. intelligence officials believe Bin Ladin could strike without warning, and that the terrorist -- along with others -- is "placing increased emphasis on developing surrogates to carry out attacks in an effort to avoid detection."

The United States on 08 May 2000 indicted two Egyptians being held in London for the deadly bombing of United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 1998, which resulted in more than 200 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries. The US indictment was filed in New York City and superceded a previous indictment related to the bombing. The indictment brought to 17 the total number of persons charged, six of whom are in custody in the United States and three in the United Kingdom.

Sources and Resources

Mujahid Usamah Bin Ladin Talks Exclusively to "NIDA'UL ISLAM" About The New Powder Keg in The Middle East Nida'ul Islam Magazine (Call of Islam) October - November 1996 Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders World Islamic Front Statement 23 February 1998 MIDDLE EAST and SOUTH ASIA PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman June 12, 1998 "Alleged Extremist Plans To Destabilize Gulf" FBIS-NES-95-092 : 10 Feb 1995 [Source: Paris AL-WATAN AL-'ARABI , 10 Feb 95 pp 14-16] "Story of Attempt to Assassinate Ibn Ladn in Jalalabad" by Jihad Salim al-Watan al-'Arabi, 18 Apr 97 pp 22-23 [Saudi Arabia: Threat to Islamic Activist's Life Seen FBIS-NES-97-092 18 Apr 1997]

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