News / Asia

Osama bin Laden Was Target of Perhaps Largest Manhunt in US History

In this Dec. 24, 1998 file photo, al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden speaks to a selected group of reporters in mountains of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan
In this Dec. 24, 1998 file photo, al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden speaks to a selected group of reporters in mountains of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan
Michael Kitchen

The world's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is dead at the age of 54.  U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the world's most wanted terrorist was killed by U.S. forces on Sunday at a compound deep inside Pakistan.

Blamed for terrorist atrocities on at least three continents, Osama bin Laden was the target of perhaps the largest U.S. manhunt in history.

Following the catastrophic attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, President Bush publicly vowed to find the man believed to be the master mind - Osama bin Laden. "This man wants to destroy any semblance of civilization for his own power and his own good.  He's so evil that he's willing to send young men to commit suicide while he hides in caves.  Not only is he guilty of incredible murder, [but] he has no conscience and no soul," he said.

But bin Laden's image as the world's most-wanted terrorist stands in sharp contrast to his peaceful and comfortable upbringing.

Born March 10, 1957, he was one of more than 50 children of a wealthy Saudi construction magnate who died when Osama bin Laden was a teenager.

Raised in the opulence of Saudi Arabia's upper-class, rubbing shoulders with members of the ruling royal family, bin Laden went on to pursue an engineering degree and seemed headed for work in the family business.

But his life forever changed when, in 1979, the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

Bin Laden, like many Muslims, left home to join the fight against the Soviets, although at first his participation amounted only to logistical support for new recruits to the Afghan mujahedin Islamic fighters - the same ones supported by the United States.



But in the mid-1980's, bin Laden decided to use his share of his family's wealth to form his own militia force, which later became known as "al-Qaida" - Arabic for "The Base."

After the Soviets withdrew, bin Laden returned home, but kept ties with fellow veterans from the Afghan war and maintained an interest in other Muslim causes.

Turning point


Another major turning point in his life came in 1990 when Iraq invaded the oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Kuwait, prompting Saudi Arabia to invite U.S. troops to deploy within its territory.

Bin Laden saw the arrival of non-Muslims on what he considered holy land as an affront to Islam.  He protested strongly against the move, resulting in his expulsion from Saudi Arabia in 1991.

Bin Laden found refuge in Sudan, where he is said to have orchestrated attacks on the U.S. military in Somalia and Saudi Arabia. Under U.S. pressure, the Sudanese expelled him in 1996, and he returned once more to Afghanistan.

Vikram Parekh, an analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, says bin Laden quickly became a close ally of Afghanistan's new rulers, the hard-line Islamist Taliban movement, providing them with needed funds. "It gave the Taliban an independent financial base from pure reliance for example on Pakistan for the maintenance of its administration, for the coordination of its military campaign," he said.

Terror plots

But even as he involved himself once again in Afghan politics, bin Laden stayed involved in his global struggle against the United States.  He allegedly masterminded the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Parekh notes that as Osama bin Laden became associated with attacks on the West, his popularity grew among disaffected Arabs and those unhappy with U.S. policy in the Middle East. "He has become sort of an icon of resistance to the United States, regardless of whether or not people actually support Osama as an individual or the ideology he represents," he said.

Stopping bin Laden became the top priority for the United States following the New York and Washington attacks in 2001, which claimed more than 3,000 lives.  

When the Taliban refused to surrender the al-Qaida leader to U.S. authorities, the United States went to war, ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan in December 2001 and sending Osama bin Laden into hiding.

Life at large

In his years at large, bin Laden released a series of audiotapes condemning the United States, causing great frustration for Washington - a frustration that has now ended.

Even before the hunt for bin Laden ended, U.S. Ambassador J. Coffer Black, former head of counter-terrorism for the Central Intelligence Agency, said it would have great meaning for many in the United States. "A good day, a day that the relatives of all the victims of 9-11 will certainly remember," he said.

But, he added, it would not mean the end of foreign terrorist threats against the United States.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid