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Osama bin Laden is the famous terrorist leader; probably his most popular attack was that of September 11 in the United States. He is the most wanted man on the list of CIA, but is ironically venerated by the Arab and Muslim world as a hero (BBC News, 2001). But just like any other person, he too has reasons for doing these things. The best way to better understand his reason for committing terrorist acts is to study where did he came from, his childhood, his family, and many others. This will enable us to identify the different causes of his criminal behavior.
Osama bin Laden was born in 1957 as the 17th son of the combined 52 siblings of a billionaire named Muhammad bin Ladden. He received his bachelor’s degree as a civil engineer in King Abdul Aziz University (Anti-Defamation League, 2001). After graduating in 1979, he left Saudi Arabia to join the Mujahedins in their jihad against the Soviets. As he transferred from one country to another, he also transferred his family’s businesses to these countries. In 1989, he joined the Jihad Committee composed of Islamic groups from Yemen, Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, and Algeria (Looklex Encyclopaedia, n. . ).
His Yemeni family owned Hira Construction and Development, a construction business firm in Saudi Arabia (BBC News, 2001). His family has helped advance the economic situation of the country in the 20th century (Teska, 2007). His other businesses include the following: Wadi l-Aqiq import-export firm, Taba Investment Company, and Shamal Islamic Bank. He also has transactions in Somalia, Switzerland and Luxembourg, with the help of some of professionals from these countries. His inherited wealth from all these businesses is estimated to be at US$300 million.
It is believed that his money is spent for his terrorist activities (Teska, 2007). Those who knew him better described him as modest and shy. They assumed that by the way he looks, he is probably in his 40’s, and has three wives probably because he is an ascetic. Despite of this, he remains charismatic (BBC News, 2001). He uses the media most of the time to broadcast his messages to the world, particularly to the United States of America and its allies, as he wants everybody to know his plans, and give his warnings. Many actually listen to this man (Leader, 1999).
People would talk about him as a loyal person, especially to his closest men in the organization (Looklex Encyclopaedia, n. d. ). Contrary to what others think, he is not an Afghan, but a Saudi national. He was only identified as an Afghan after he participated in Afghanistan’s fight against USSR from 1979 to 1988, where he commanded one of the seven fighting troops for Afghanistan. He, together with a Pakistani Muslim Brotherhood leader, in the name of Abdullah Azzam created the Services Offices (Maktab Al Khidamat) that provides money and recruits such as Egyptians and Turks.
During that time, the US supported their goal by providing money to this groups with the aim of defeating the Soviet forces whom they think are competing with them for global power. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan helped in this endeavor (BBC News, 2001). He first created the Maktabu L-Khidamat in 1979. The group is one of the seven Mujahedin factions in Afhanistan. The organization’s purpose is to free the Afghans from the Soviet forces. His approximately 10,000 members are composed of Saudi nationals, Algerian, and Egyptian. Survivors from his troops became skilled workers in their home countries.
In Sudan, they were treated as heroes and were given important positions in the society. After the war, Osama returned to his family to help in their business, but due to his anti-government activities, he was expelled (BBC News, 2001). Osama upon returning in Saudi Arabia was then treated as a hero (Looklex Encyclopaedia, n. d. ). This organization is funded and trained by the CIA, which means Osama is first hand trained by the CIA. The Mujahedin faction was successful in driving the Soviets away, but failed in its war against Israel (Looklex Encyclopaedia, n. . ).
He also helps in the preparation of his troops in case any battle would emerge in any given time (BBC News, 2001). The group’s networking grew after non-Afghan warriors returned to their countries after the war (Anti-Defamation League, 2001). One day, he realized that he wants it back, with another purpose. His aspiration to unify the international network he created during the Afghan war resulted to the creation of the Al Qaeda in 1988, as influenced by his personal affiliations as well.
The group eyes the liberation of the Muslim world from corrupt leaders, and foreign powers and groups that try to establish their force and influence onto the region in any way. This is probably the reason why Saddam Hussein is his enemy. Al Qaeda wants to fight against foreign control and to preserve and protect the Islamic world, particularly the holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem (Newsweek, 2007). Their sentiment in the United States started after the first Gulf War ended, which they observed as the period where in there is an increasing US presence in the area.
He does not agree on the stationing of US troops in Saudi, and so he lead Al Qaeda even to criticize, and threatened the rulers of the country. All he wanted for America to do is to push for democratic reforms (Abraham, 2008). For him, jihad started after Riyadh and Dhahram attacked the US forces in Saudi Arabia (Anti-Defamation League, 2001). He revoked his citizenship in 1994 after he was deported in 1992 by the Saudi rulers for leading the people to dispose the Saudi rulers, and to create an Islamic regime in the area, particularly in the Arabian Peninsula.
They also tried to freeze his bank account (Riedel, 2008). Before this, he moved to Sudan in 1991 and transferred to Afghanistan. Later on, he allied himself with the Taliban in 1996 after the US put pressure on the government, and eventually find shelter in Afghanistan (Anti-Defamation League, 2001). Previously, in August 1996, and as late as February 1999, Osama declared a jihad or holy war against the United States of America, including cyber-jihad (Abraham, 2008). This jihad is different since both sects of Islam, Sunni and Shiite collaborate against their common enemy.
He, his followers and his allies, is very much prepared to use weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, and chemical) in order to punish the United States, to be specific the US soldiers, and its allies, as being the major antagonist for Islam, and for habitually isolating countries from the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, his mother land. In 1997, he even asked the mothers of the American soldiers to oppose the US government’s policy and encourage their sons to come home. WMD is their primary option to meet their objectives.
This weapon of mass destruction, according to him is just a part of his duty. A coalition of Al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Group, etc. was formed in February 1998 (International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders) that aims to battle with the United States where Osama was the head of the council was formed (Anti-Defamation League, 2001). The coalition, especially Osama, is very much willing to allot money and effort to acquire all of these weapons. In 1998, he shamelessly announced to kill all Americans (military and civilians) wherever they are.
For them, as long as the American citizens are paying their taxes, and religiously following their President, then this connotes that they are one against the Muslims (Leader, 1999). It was reported earlier by US intelligence agencies that they were able to prevent terrorist attacks that bin Laden and his group were planning from the period of August 1998 to March 1999, but were not able to prevent the September 11 attack which Osama denied that he has connections with (Leader, 1999). Though he did that, he did not keep his happiness for what happened.
He said that it was the fault of the United States and there is no other else to be blamed. If they do not just neglect their policy on the Palestinian cause, then they might not have suffered it (Riedel, 2008). Before 2001, CIA and the Senate Armed Services Committee already received reports that Osama’s group will attack the United States. CIA director George Tenet fears that Osama will have an easy access of chemical and biological weapons that Al Qaeda will use to attack USA, but they doubted the terrorist group’s capability and will to acquire those things and use it.
In 1998, he tried to purchase chemical weapons to be used against the US troops in the Persian Gulf (Mazzetti, 2007). The US government’s knowledge about this is based on the earlier report that Osama’s Al Qaeda started the search for WMD since 1993, as supported by the October 1998 report of the London Times that they lifted a report from an Arabic newspaper telling that they found nuclear weapons somewhere in Russia (Leader, 1999).
But as they said, even if they allegedly purchase it from Russia’s black market (from where he first purchased a Russian nuclear warhead) they don’t have the skills and the knowledge to operate the whole system; therefore it will only be useless. Aside from that, CIA reports would say that there were strikes, laidback procedures, low spirit, and no proper compensation for workers, poor security, and illicit activities present in the nuclear site, where it is assumed that Osama is preparing his WMD.
They can use highly enriched uranium (HEU) as an alternative, yet he still needs some skilled and knowledgeable members to do it for him. None of his members are experts in terms of this. Far more dangerous than HEU are Caesium 137 or Cobalt 60. The two are primarily used for medical and industrial purposes only. Aside from Russia, he also worked with Sudan’s NIF for weapons and explosives, Sudanese, Iranian, and Iraqi government for weapons, particularly a group that is taking care of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear programs called as Iraq’s special security organization (Leader, 1999).
In 2002, authorities cannot trace him anymore. They suspect that either he has been killed in the US / Afghan war, or may be hiding from them somewhere in the Afghan mountains or in the Pakistani mountains (Spurlock, 2008). But even if that is the case, the American authority is aware that bin Laden’s colleagues are still working in more than 40 countries (BBC News, 2001), and still growing. Before he was gone, it was reported that Osama wanted to follow the 9/11 attacks.
Anticipating the next step of the U. S government, he planned his second attack on the United States, this time reserving another plan for his motherland. What he was thinking is to definitely drive the Americans and British forces in Middle East, and at the same time overthrowing the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. If that happens, then he will control the holy cities as well as the oil industry. But Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Kingdom have effective counter attacks that have prevented Osama from fulfilling his dream. The United States was first able to capture Kandahar in 2002.
Because of this, some Saudi nationals that are members of the Al Qaeda went back to Saudi and worked (Riedel, 2008). In February 2003, he encouraged the Iraqis to fight against the Americans and the British that will invade them. He blames the Saud of Saudi for allowing the Westerners (referring to them as crusaders), and the Jewish (Zionist) to the region which is a betrayal of their ancestors effort to protect their religion, their society, especially the Palestinian cause. He said that the westerners came for the sole reason of dividing and conquering the region.
To stress his point, he even highlighted the failure of America in different wars such as in Lebanon (1982) and Somalia (1993), and enumerated the victories of the mujahideen: Yemen (1992 and 2000), Riyadh (1995), Khobar (1996), Tanzania and Kenya (1998), and the United States (2001) (Riedel, 2008). Last year, 2007, Al Qaeda had an extensive campaign promoting their cause especially in Iraq and was able to encourage some that resulted to an amount of 14, 500 terrorist attack incidents and 22,600 deaths.
The figures of kidnapped, injured, and killed because of terrorism from the past years doubled last 2007. Truly, Osama has a great impact on the group as their ideological head (Dombey, 2008). Aside from being the suspect for the September 11 incident, he is also considered as the primary culprit in the US embassy bombing in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack at the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, and he has even promised to continue more of his violent attacks (Leader, 1999).
He also is responsible for the ambush American forces going to Somalia for humanitarian activity in Yemen; the assassination plan of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995; the terrorist attack in US Army in Saudi; assistance to the Somalian army that drove the US forces away in 1994; attack in Riyadh and Khobar Towers in 1995 and 1996 respectively; the first World Trade Center attack (1993); and bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen (Anti-Defamation League, 2001).
In all these accounts, many innocent people lost their lives. Conclusion He was raised as a good person by his parents. He was never deprived of anything by his family. He went to a good school and earned a degree. He has both wealth and the power. In his childhood, everything went very well, not until he decided to join the troops fighting for Afghanistan’s freedom from the invasion of the Soviets. Being exposed to a lot of truths is not actually wrong, as he only wants to preserve what Islam has.
What went wrong is the way he saw how problems ought to be solved, such as the use of the weapons for mass destruction. He wasted his money, time and effort to acquire and develop these weapons to be used against their enemies. Again, the problem here is misunderstanding. Americans are unaware of the Arabs and vice-versa (Teska, 2007). Such implicit misconceptions, in effect, it will not only harm his enemies, but his people, his family, and himself. On that ground, using the WMD defeats his purpose.