Osama bin Laden
Seen with the
Dr. Michael L. Ford
After the destruction of the World Trade Center on New York on 11 September 2001, many Americans wonder about the person purported to be the mastermind behind the deed. The man who has been presented to the world as the brains behind the act is presented in these pages.
Zakis, ERRI Risk Assessment Services Asia and Pacific Desk, compiled the
following summary of “Usamah Bin Mohammad Bin Laden (Osama bin-Laden)
and published it on Tuesday, June 30, 1998.
bin-Laden was born in the city of Riyadh in 1957 and raised in AlMadina,
AlMunawwara and Hijaz. He received his education in the schools of Jedda
before studying management and economics in King Abdul Aziz University
While growing up, he developed a strong Muslim belief of Islamic law. From this belief emerged the necessity for armed struggle preceded by Da'wa and military preparation in order to repel the greater Kufr, and to cooperate with Muslims in order to unite their word under the banner of monotheism, and to set aside divisions and differences. His great struggle began in 1973 when he started interacting with a number of Islamic groups and would continue for several years. During this time he also acquired his personal fortune running the family construction business.
A short time after Jan. 11, 1979, when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, bin-Laden left his family's business and set about gathering together his fortune to fund recruitment, transportation and training of a volunteer force of Arab nationals to fight alongside the existing Afghan mujahedin. He felt that it was his sense of duty to do so, since the Soviets actions had deeply offended him as a Muslim. His new volunteer group was named 'The Islamic Salvation Front.'
the Soviet Union was forced out of Afghanistan in 1989, bin-Laden
returned to the family construction business. As for his, Islamic
Salvation Front, its aid which had been coming from the United States to
fight the Soviets ended, and …unit was disbanded. In recent years,
bin-Laden has down-played the U.S. involvement in his victory against
the Soviets, to ensure most of the credibility for the success rests
with him and his forces.
Bin-Laden was dealt a severe blow from his homeland in 1994 when the Saudi Arabian government seized his passport after Egypt, Algeria and Yemen accused him of financing subversive activities. This forced him to flee for Sudan, where the National Islamic Front (NIF) leader Hassan al-Turabi welcomed him.
While residing in Sudan, bin-Ladin financed and help set up at least three terrorist training camps in cooperation with the NIF, and his construction company worked directly with Sudanese military officials to transport and supply terrorists training in such camps.
But in May 1996, he suffered another blow when Sudanese officials, for "harming the image" of the country, expelled him. Bin-Laden maintained in several interviews that he left out of mere courtesy to Sudanese authorities.
From May 1996 onwards, the exact whereabouts of bin-Laden remain a mystery. Rumours ranged from him living in Yemen, to him living in Saudi Arabia with a false passport, to him being captured in Afghanistan. His exact location has not often been substantiated. He is known to have given interviews at a remote, well-guarded, camp in Afghanistan on at least two occasions.
His known activities have been established during interviews, mainly with Middle-Eastern reporters and on three occasion of the release of Fatwas in April 1996, February 1997 and February 1998. Each one threatened a Holy War (Jihad) against the U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the Holy Lands, each one called for Muslims to concentrate on "destroying, fighting and killing the enemy."
This broad outline of the man up to that time is
interesting in itself, but it leaves many questions unanswered. The
information given in these pages will likely do the same, but it is my
hope that the man and his religion will be better understood when the
exercise is completed.
the Person Behind the Beard
Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda Organization
bin Laden is a 44 year-old "businessman" and son of one of
Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families, He is reputed to be the coordinator
of an international terrorist network responsible for numerous deadly
attacks against American and Western targets.
Laden supposedly formed the terrorist Al-Qaeda ("the base")
organization in 1988. It is believed to now have operatives in as many
as twenty countries.
In 1998 bin Laden announced the establishment of "The International
Islamic Front for Holy War Against Jews and Crusaders," an umbrella
organization linking Islamic extremists in scores of countries around
the world, including Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 
group issued a religious edict upon its establishment: "The ruling
to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians, and the military, is
an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in
which it is possible to do it.
This is in accordance with the words of Almighty G-d, and 'fight
the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them
until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice
and faith in G-d."
militancy is traced by some back to the 1979 Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan, but the truth is the foundations for what he would become
was laid earlier in the decade. The early seventies were a time of great
cultural change in the Middle East. Oil income, wars with Israel,
political unrest and, increasing contact with Western culture and ideas
forced a re-examining of the old ways. For most of Osama bin Laden's
numerous siblings, the answer lay in adopting many Western ways. The
elder members of the family set off for Victoria College in Alexandria
in Egypt, Harvard, London or Miami. But not Osama bin Laden. Like
thousands of other
young men in the region at the time, Osama had become increasingly drawn
to the cool, clear, uncluttered certainties of extremist Islamist
high school in Jedda in 1974, he decided not to go overseas for further
education. Salim, the head of the clan, had been educated at Millfield,
a Somerset boarding school. Another, Yeslam, went to university in
Sweden and California. Osama entered the management and economics
faculty at King Abdul Aziz University.
There are some reports that he married his first wife, a Syrian related
to his mother, when he was 17. Salim, the elder brother who had run the
bin Laden corporation after their father's death, hoped Osama would take
up a useful role in the family business and ensured that a key element
of his university course was civil engineering. Bin Laden himself
preferred the Islamic studies component of the course. Later, he was to
combine the two in a radically effective way.
was at the university he heard tapes recorded by the fiery
Palestinian-born Jordanian academic Abdallah Azzam, and these had a
Azzam's recorded sermons -- much like Osama's videotapes today --
brilliantly caught the mood of many disaffected young Muslims. Jedda
itself, and King Abdul Aziz University in particular, was a center for
Islamic dissidents from all over the Muslim world. In its mosques and
medressas (Islamic schools) they preached a severe message: only an
absolute return to the values of conservative Islam could protect the
Muslim world from the dangers and decadence of the West.
Here he made useful contacts, including a crucial friendship with Prince
Turki ibn Faisal, a young royal and the future chief of Saudi
But events were to overtake him.
discounting the impact of the Soviet invasion on Osama bin Ladin, we
must here refer to the event in February 1979 he was later to refer to
this as a crucial, formative event. This was when Ayatollah Khomeini
returned to Iran, overthrew the Shah and established an Islamic
Excitement and fear ran through Muslims everywhere. In November of that
year Islamic radicals seized the grand mosque at Mecca and held it
against Saudi government forces. Bin Laden, young, impressionable,
increasingly devout but still unsure of himself and his vocation, was
Eventually, after much bloodshed, the rebels were defeated. Sooner than
anyone expected, bin Laden got his chance to follow them in his own
quest for his purpose in life.
The Family Osama bin Laden was Raised In
Osama is a son of Mohammed Bin Laden, the Yemeni-born owner of a
leading Saudi construction company. He was born into great wealth, and
is believed to have inherited as much as $300 million when his father
died in the 1960's.
But money does not substitute for a father’s involved presence in a
child’s early formative years. Whether any influence such as he
exerted could be characterized as positive I will leave it to the reader
to conclude. The evidence I
have to offer seems to suggest the father looms large and almost
omnipresent while he is at the same time somewhat emotionally remote in
the large extended family relationship.
Some things about this father provides very important insight into the son the reader should understand. In 1930, he began his journey to success as a dockside laborer. He was six feet tall and with one eye when decided there was more to life than loading ships in the ports of his poverty-stricken native province of Hadramaut in Yemen. He packed a bag, and traveled on a camel caravan to the newly created kingdom of Saudi Arabia to seek his fortune. Osama’s father got his first job as a bricklayer with Aramco, the Arabian-American oil company, earning a single Saudi riyal, about 15 cents, a day. He lived frugally, worked hard, saved, invested well and went into business himself.
the early 1950s, Mohammed bin Laden was employed in building palaces for
the House of Saud in Riyadh. He won the contracts by heavily
undercutting local firms. Bin Laden's big break came when a foreign
contractor withdrew from a deal to build the Medina-Jedda highway and he
took on the job. By the early 1960s he was a rich man -- and an
extraordinary one. 
former laborer never forgot his roots, always leaving home "with a
wad of notes to give to the poor." Such alms-giving is one of the
fundamentals of Islam. Bin Laden senior was a devout man, raised in the
strict and conservative Wahhabi strand of Sunni Islam. Later he was to
boast that, using his private helicopter, he could pray in the three
holiest locations of Islam; Mecca, Medina and the al-Aqsa mosque in
Jerusalem in a single day.
Perhaps the piety of the father inspired a like devotion in the son who
wished to be recognized and appreciated above his status in the family
at one stage he was rich enough to bail out the royal family when they
fell on hard times, the tatty bag he had carried when he left Yemen
remained on display in the palatial family home. Neither he nor his
family could then forget their beginnings. It could be that from his
father Osama also learned to value money principally for what it made
possible for him to do. He was killed when his helicopter crashed in
bin Laden had, in the words of a person who once worked with him,
"changed wives like you or I change cars." He had three Saudi
wives, Wahhabis like their husband, who were more or less permanent. The
fourth, however, was changed on a regular basis.
He would send his private
pilot all over the Middle East to pick up yet another bride. "Some
were as young as 15 and were completely covered from head to toe,"
the pilot's widow recently recalled. "But they were all
Laden's mother, Hamida, was neither Saudi nor Wahhabi, but a stunningly
beautiful, cosmopolitan. She was the educated 22-year-old daughter of a
Syrian trader. She shunned the traditional Saudi veil in favor of Chanel
trouser suits and this, coupled with the fact that she was foreign,
diminished her status within the family. She was Mohammed bin Laden's
tenth or eleventh spouse, and was known as the "the slave
wife." No doubt this also impacted upon Osama’s status within the
family and perhaps influenced the development of his attitudes toward
dress and the value of women in the overall scheme of things.
bin Laden gave even his former wives a home at his palaces in Jedda and
Hijaz. In this way he kept his family intact in such a way he could use
even the children of those unions to establish a dynasty. It was
Hamida’s good fortune to still be married to the millionaire when he
died. So, amid a huge family and solid gold statues, ancient tapestries
and the Venetian chandeliers, was where Osama bin Laden, Mohammed's
seventh son, "the son of the slave," grew up with a better
situation than would have been his had his father lived a bit longer.
in 1957 -- the year 1377 of the Islamic calendar -- he was 11 when his
father died. He never saw much of him. A flavor of the bin Laden
household comes from a document provided to the American ABC TV network
in 1998 by "an anonymous source close to bin Laden." It offers
unprecedented insights into Osama's childhood.
"The father had very dominating personality. He insisted to keep all his children in one premises," it reads. "He had a tough discipline and observed all the children with strict religious and social code. At the same time, the father was entertaining with trips to the sea and desert," the document goes on. "He dealt with his children as big men and demanded them to show confidence at young age."
Osama’s Journey Into Militant Islamic Thought
relationships with Egyptian Islamic extremist groups began early in his
life when people are most prone to be influenced. Had his father lived,
it is by no means certain that he would have kept the young Osama from
the course he finally pursued because of his contradictory relationship
of influence and separation at the same time. In 1979, at twenty-two
years of age, bin Laden began raising money for the Mujahadeen forces
fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and gradually became more and more
affiliated with, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad. From the mid-1980's bin
Laden began to establish training camps in Afghanistan, initially for
the war in Afghanistan, but later to fight against other targets
worldwide. He has attracted thousands of recruits from Saudi Arabia,
Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Sudan. Even in the United States
many people applauded the Mujahadeen and tribal groups as they defied
the Russian invaders of Afghanistan.
Osama apparently did have a brief flirtation with some of the libertine aspects of Western life in his youth that may have affected his attitude toward the West in general and women in particular. In 1971 the family went on holiday en masse to the small Swedish copper mining town of Falun. A smiling Osama, or "Sammy" as he then sometimes called himself, was pictured, wearing a lime-green top and blue flares, leaning on a Cadillac. When Osama was 14, he and his older brother Salem had first visited Falun , driving from Copenhagen in a Rolls-Royce flown in from Saudi Arabia. Oddly, they stayed at the cheap Astoria Hotel, where the owner, Christina Akerblad, recalled them spending the days out "on business" and the evenings eating dinner in their rooms. "I remember them as two beautiful boys, the girls in Falun were very fond of them." 
a bucolic summer at an Oxford language school in the same year, Bin
Laden and his brothers befriended a group of Spanish girls and went
punting on the Thames. One woman showed a Spanish newspaper photos of
herself and girlfriends, one in hot pants, with three bin Laden boys.
Bin Laden, wearing flares, a short-sleeved shirt and a bracelet, looks
like any other awkward teenager. His two older brothers look more
assured. The young Saudi even once stayed on London's Park Lane. He had
forgotten the name of the hotel his Saudi parents had checked into, he
told a reporter several years ago, but he recalled "the trees of
the park and the red buses." As he moved on his course of rejecting
all things Western, he no doubt converted the sultry experiences of
those days into memories offensive to his adopted ideals.
But we remember that the bulk of his education was spent in an area where fiery Islamic militantism ruled the day. The militants present who influenced him during his formative education would instill in him anger about what he called the betrayal of the Arabs by the British after the First World War. He would also criticize the Saudi royal family, saying they had exploited the Wahhabi, his father’s native people, to gain power.
bin Laden's anti-Americanism intensified during the Gulf War, when U.S.
troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia. According to The New York Times:
"The presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace
of the Prophet Muhammad and the home of the two holiest Muslim shrines,
enraged Mr. bin Laden and other Arab militants." He and his
associates also blamed their animosity on the U.S. support for Israel as
being anti-Islam. But there is really more to the story.
1994 Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden's citizenship, citing his
opposition to the Saudi King and leadership and expelled him from the
As we have seen his opposition was not exclusively based on the form of
Islam practiced and promoted in Saudi Arabia.
But to understand its increasing antagonism we must go back directly to
the events of the Gulf War. When Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait.
Osama bin Laden, then living in his home town of Jedda, had immediately
sent a message to the Saudi royal family offering to form an army of
30,000 Afghan veterans to defeat the Iraqi dictator. The men who had
defeated the Russians could easily take on Saddam, he said, and he was
clearly the man to lead them. Bin Laden got a rude and profoundly
upsetting shock. The last thing the House of al-Saud wanted was an army
of zealous Islamists fighting its war. Bin Laden was granted an audience
by senior royals, but his offer was firmly rejected. 
was to come. Instead of the Islamic army he envisaged protecting the
cradle of Islam, the defense of Saudi Arabia, and thus of the holy sites
of Mecca and Medina, was entrusted to the Americans. Bin Laden, seething
with humiliation and rage, could do nothing but watch as 300,000 U.S.
troops arrived in his country and set about building bases, drinking
Coke and alcohol and sunbathing. Bin Laden saw their presence as an
infidel invasion. It even appeared to defy directly the dying words of
the Prophet Muhammad: "Let there be no two religions in
The 33-year-old started lobbying religious scholars and Muslim activists throughout the Gulf. Playing on his celebrity status, he lectured and preached throughout Saudi Arabia, circulating thousands of audiotapes through mosques. And in 1994, when the Saudis publicly withdrew his citizenship, bin Laden's response was to increase his exploitation of the power of the media. It is believed he set up the London office called the Advice and Reform Committee (ARC). Its job was propaganda, issuing vitriolic criticism against the Saudi regime.
is no Coward
Many inflammatory remarks have been made, calling the terrorists
who attacked the World Trade Center and Osama bin Laden cowards. That
type of language has been used by communist regimes in the past in
reference to Americans. It has also been used by Islamic militants in
referring to leaders of Western nations. Now such language is being used
to manipulate the emotions and viewpoint of Americans. The danger of
this type of language is first of all that the words have the power to
seduce people into underestimating their opponent. Secondly, if a person
is genuinely Christian, they should not indulge in either untrue
statements or foolish manipulations. People who have the courage to
drive an airplane headlong into a building are certainly not cowards no
matter what their motivation is. The information presented in this
segment will demonstrate that the man who is accused of having sent them
has also demonstrated his own personal bravery.
In the last days of the year Soviet tanks rolled into
the Pakistani city of Peshawar seethed with soldiers,
spies, gun-runners, drug dealers, Afghan refugees, exiles, journalists,
and thousands of sympathizers who had flocked from all over the Muslim
world to fight the Soviet forces. Among them was an extraordinarily tall
man who was further distinguishable by his carefully tailored ‘shalwar
kameez’ and English handmade leather boots. Osama bin Laden had found
his cause in life.
time fighting the Russians was critical. It was during this period that
he changed from a contemplative, scholarly young man to a respected,
battle-hardened leader of men. The war in Afghanistan gave him crucial
confidence and status. 
At first, bin Laden kept a low profile. Journalists
in Pakistan at the beginning of the 1980s remember hearing stories about
the "Saudi sheikh" who would visit wounded fighters in the
clinics, dispensing cashew nuts and chocolates. The man would note their
names and addresses and soon a generous check would arrive at their
family home. Such generosity, perhaps learned from his father with his
wad of notes for the poor, is something that almost all who have fought
for, or alongside, bin Laden mention.
over the border from Peshawar into Afghanistan is the small village of
Jaji. In 1986 the Soviet garrison there was under heavy attack from the
resistance. One morning a senior commander was sheltering from a
bombardment by Russian mortars in a bunker when a tall Arab dived
through the door as explosions shook the earth. It was bin Laden.
"ground war" had started. In the mid-'80s, partly due to a
massive increase in American funding for the resistance, the war in
Afghanistan intensified. Through the summer of 1986 bin Laden was in the
center of the fighting around Jaji. Once, with a force of about 50
Arabs, he fought off a sustained assault by Soviet helicopters and
infantry. "He was right in the thick of it," Mia Mohammed Aga,
a senior Afghan commander at the time said. "I watched him with his
Kalashnikov in his hand under fire from mortars and the multiple-barrelled
Over the next three years, bin Laden fought hard, often exposing himself to extreme physical danger. One leader of the hardline Hezb-i-Islami group said he remembered bin Laden holding a position under heavy bombardment after being surrounded by Soviet soldiers. At least a dozen other senior veterans, many of whom are now opposed to bin Laden, corroborate the accounts of his combat role. They all mention his lack of concern for his own safety.
Bin Laden's fanaticism was inspired into his men. "I took three Afghans and three Arabs and told them to hold a position [during the battle for the eastern city of Jalalabad in 1989]. They fought all day, then when I went to relieve them in the evening the Arabs were crying because they wanted to be martyred. I told them that if they wanted to stay and fight they could. The next day they were killed. Osama said later that he had told them that the trench was their gate to heaven."
some occasions he took it on himself to broker truces between Afghan
factions. These endeavors alone could put him in danger from one group
or another of the very people he had come to Afghanistan to save. When
he did leave Afghanistan to move back into Saudi Arabia part of the
reason for his departure was disgust with the various groups because of
There were also tensions with those who did not share his hardline Islamism. Said Mohammed, another Afghan veteran, said bin Laden had refused to deal with him during one battle because he was clean shaven. Bin Laden was learning the power of the media too. Reports of his exploits, by Arab journalists based in Peshawar, were published throughout the Middle East. They brought him a flood of recruits as well as a respect and a status that he had never had before.
Bin Laden’s reputation soared to the point that after he returned to Saudi Arabia and started recruiting an army and he was able to send an estimated 4,000 men to Afghanistan for training. The Saudi regime grew uneasy, raided his home and put him under house arrest. Bin Laden's family, worried that his activities might jeopardize their close relations with the ruling clan, tried to bring him back into the fold but were forced eventually to effectively disown him.
Whatever else people might say about Osama bin Laden, they should
not call him or his henchmen cowards. He is neither a coward in relation
to what he will dare politically or financially, nor is he a coward in
the sense of his own willingness to put his life at risk for what he
believes. On the contrary, his belief in the rightness of what he is
about seems to give him a certain bravado that actually borders on the
When we come to the end of the matter of who is Osama bin Laden? We must conclude that he is a man of many parts. He is educated, intelligent, thoughtful, and talented. He is also a warped individual who has had his values twisted in his upbringing, life experiences, and passions. He is a man subject to the influences of others while at the same time he has the capacity to similarly influence people based on his own personality and resources. Not the least of his problems is the religion into which he was born into, but he has compounded that by the course of Islamic thought he has chosen to follow.
Throughout his life we can see a thread of egotism and personal pride woven. But at the same time there is a parallel thread of loneliness and isolation because he cannot bring himself to form relationships where trust is given freely and completely. Evidence of this lack of trust has become more evident as he has pursued his chosen course in life. Even in places where he should consider himself safest, he has found it more and more necessary to keep a strong bodyguard close at hand.
has been an element of competition with his father and siblings in that
while he had participated in family enterprises he also had a compulsion
to go out on his own and form a number of businesses in a number of
divers areas. Once bin Laden got to Khartoum, after his problems in
Saudi Arabia he continued to develop business, but it would seem that
they must always contain a reminder that the foundation of what he could
accomplish rested in an inherited fortune.
This has probably lead to the both his programs to independently raise
money to fund terrorism and the numerous unsuccessful ventures launched
into such as a plan to import bicycles from Azerbaijan was a total flop.
Other hare-brained schemes were hatched, half-implemented and then went
nowhere both in the worlds of business and terrorism. Bin Laden has
probably never been completely his own man.
Traditionally, Jews and Christians are tolerated within Islam. They are part of dhimmis, or protected communities, because they are considered "people of the book" - recipients of valid, if outdated, revelations from God. (This does not mean they are not treated differently than others living within the Islamic state.)
Modern extremists and Islamists, however, have developed a very different perspective. For them, Jews and Christians are regarded as being part of the great mass of infidels: first, because they have deliberately rejected the truth, and second, because of their connections to Western colonialism and Zionism. Both Jews and Christians are viewed as being part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to corrupt, divide and destroy Islam. This effort was instigated by the Jews and Christians of the 7th century, and it continues down through today.
These views were expressed and spread through the late 1970s and early 1980s by the journal al-Da'wa, "the Call," which was run by former members of the Muslim Brotherhood. After Nasser's death, Sadat never agreed to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to reform, but he did allow a few of the members to publish this magazine. (Which brings into question the claimed moderate position Sadat was supposed to have.)
Because it refrained from directly criticizing the Egyptian government, it was granted wide latitude in what it published. Although it was certainly not the only outlet for Islamist views, it was one of the most consistent and popular. By examining it, we can get a fairly accurate representation of what radical Islamists were thinking at the time.
As far as the writers were concerned, the Jews were the "ultimate" abomination. This term was used indiscriminately to apply both to Israeli citizens and to non-Israeli Jews. Indeed, being Israeli was only incidental: Jewishness alone was sufficient to merit condemnation, and it deserved to be eradicated wherever it was found.
Israel as a state, however, was an affront for two reasons. The first was political: the existence of Israel was regarded as simply another Western colonization effort in the Middle East. It was closely related to the efforts of the Crusaders to create European colonies in the Holy Land.
there was also a religious objection to Israel, one that still often
goes unrecognized today. The land area making up Israel is still
regarded something which should be part of Dar al-Islam. It is simply unacceptable, from an Islamic prespective, that a part of the House of Islam suddenly come under control of the House of War, especially when it is so closely associated with Christian Europe.
Although Jews were regarded as inherently evil, the Crusader was generally regarded as redeemable, at least in theory. Christians could be either good or evil, but the evil ones strive constantly to convert or kill the true believers of Islam. Whether attacking via military, missionaries, or political ideologies like capitalism, Crusaders must be resisted at any cost. They are only interested in conquering the lands of Islam and corrupting the true religion.
In the end, the journal al-Da'wa had nothing really good to say about Crusaders or Jews. This legacy has continued even today, with both Jews and Westerners or Christians (often referred to as "Crusaders") being blamed for whatever ills have befallen Islam. It isn't a coincidence, then, that bin Laden's 1998 fatwa was titled "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders."
Yet even blaming Jews and Westerners for
the corrupt governments in the Middle East and the suffering of
individual Muslims is not an idea original to bin Laden. Westerners are
still Crusaders because they are using both culture and the military to
take control of Muslims - a view expressed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad,
current leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan, and quoted earlier.
Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans
Published in Al-Quds al-'Arabi on Febuary 23, 1998
signed by Sheikh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin; Ayman al-Zawahiri,
leader of the Jihad Group in Egypt; Abu- Yasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, a
leader of the Islamic Group; Sheikh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the
Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan; and Fazlul Rahman, leader of the Jihad
Movement in Bangladesh
be to God, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats
factionalism, and says in His Book "But when the
forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye
find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every
war)"; and peace be upon our Prophet, Muhammad Bin-'Abdallah, who
have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but
God is worshipped, God who put my livelihood under the shadow of my
spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my
Arabian Peninsula has never--since God made it flat, created its desert,
and encircled it with seas--been stormed by any forces like the crusader
armies now spreading in it like locusts, consuming its riches and
destroying its plantations. All this is happening at a time when nations
are attacking Muslims like people fighting over a plate of food. In the
light of the grave situation and the lack of support, we and you are
obliged to discuss current events, and we should all agree on how to
settle the matter.
No one argues today about three facts that are known
to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:
for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of
Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its
riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its
neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead
through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
some people have formerly debated the fact of the occupation,
all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged
it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression
against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even
though all its rulers are against
their territories being used to that end, still they
despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the
crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed,
in excess of 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once
against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not
content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or
the fragmentation and devastation. So now they come to annihilate what
is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the
aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its
occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of
this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab
state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such
as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through
their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the
continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.
these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration
of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema have throughout
Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty
if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries. This was revealed by Imam
Bin-Qadamah in "Al- Mughni," Imam al-Kisa'i in "Al-
Bada'i," al-Qurtubi in his interpretation, and the shaykh of
al-Islam in his books, where he said "As for the militant struggle,
it is aimed at defending sanctity and religion, and it is a duty as
agreed. Nothing is more sacred than belief except repulsing an enemy who
is attacking religion and life."
On that basis,
and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all
ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and
military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any
country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa
Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their
armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to
threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty
God, "and fight
the pagans all together as they fight you all
together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or
oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."
is in addition to the words of Almighty God "And why should ye not
fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-
treated and oppressed--women and children, whose cry
is 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and
raise for us from thee one who will help!'"
We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.
Almighty God said "O ye who believe, give your
response to God and His Apostle, when He calleth you to that which will
give you life. And know that God cometh between a man and his heart, and
that it is He to whom ye shall all be gathered."
God also says "O ye who believe, what is the matter with you, that
when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of God, ye cling so heavily
to the earth! Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But
little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter.
Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put
others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For God
hath power over all things."
also says "So lose no heart, nor fall into despair. For ye must
gain mastery if ye are true in faith."
The Al-Qaeda Organization
FBI Probe of Al Qaeda Implies Wide Presence
Agency Investigating 150 U.S. Groups, Individuals
It has been reported that the
FBI is conducting more than 150 separate investigations into groups and
individuals in the United States suspected to have possible ties to
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.  People who are under electronic surveillance
through national security warrants, and others who are being watched by
undercover agents attempting to learn more about their activities and
Until now, law enforcement authorities had not disclosed the
number of active al Qaeda investigations in the United States. The large
number of cases either suggests the FBI's efforts against the terrorist
network have gone well or they are using a shotgun approach to the
investigation looking for hard information to turn up. U.S.
counterterrorism investigators are unsure exactly how many al Qaeda
operatives and sympathizers are in the United States, although in the
days after Sept. 11 they identified four or five cells that they put
Many of the active investigations involve people with marginal or
unclear ties to al Qaeda, and are unlikely to result in criminal
charges, officials said. But the sheer number of active FBI
investigations may mean the al Qaeda presence is far broader than
"It is a good indicator of the depth of al Qaeda presence
here," said Robert Blitzer, a former FBI counterterrorism official.
"Hopefully working these cases will lead to many more, and you'll
have a better sense of the infrastructure at work here…The idea is to
figure out what these individuals or groups are doing, what they might
be planning and to try to penetrate the group and get closer to
The presence of al Qaeda members in the United States is of grave
to Bush administration
officials, who have issued several alerts since September 11th.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III
have repeatedly said they view preventing another terror attack as their
main priority, rather than securing criminal convictions. The
President’s personal concern has helped fuel the massive domestic and
foreign dragnet aimed primarily at disrupting the operations of al Qaeda.
Although more than 1,200 people have been detained in the United States,
only a handful are believed to have ties to al Qaeda. Only one
man,accused hijacking conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, has been charged
so far in connection with the Sept. 11 plot.
In addition to the domestic detentions, the CIA has passed information to foreign intelligence services, which have had more than 500 suspected terrorists arrested or detained abroad. The domestic dragnet has prompted criticism from civil libertarians, as well as concern from some former law enforcement officials and terrorism experts that the Justice Department is not effectively pursuing al Qaeda.
An initiative to interview more
than 5,200 young male visitors who entered the United States within the
past two years has resulted in an increase in the number of ongoing
domestic investigations related to bin Laden, according to law
enforcement officials. Another step has been the recent anti-terrorism
bill approved by Congress, which has given federal prosecutors and FBI
agents an expanded ability to open criminal investigations based on
information gathered for intelligence purposes. FBI and Justice
officials said the law prompted an almost immediate surge in criminal
terrorism investigations, especially those related to
Qaeda and bin Laden.
have gotten a great deal of new information that has led to new
since 9-11," one official said. "The numbers have increased
substantially." But the officials declined to offer details of the
roughly 150 open investigations, or to name their targets. Some of the
cases are known to revolve around suspects already in U.S. custody, such
as Moussaoui, but most involve but most are focused on people who have
never been previously known to be involved and have never been detained.
Investigations “…runs the
spectrum from one end to another," said one senior U.S. law
enforcement official. "We don't want to suggest that they are all
al Qaeda terrorists running around loose. Some are very serious, but
some are just suspected links or suspicious conduct…The goal is to be
on top of any possible plans." Some of the investigations predate
the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI officials said.
A special team in the command
center of FBI headquarters in Washington, including representatives of
the CIA and other agencies, has been coordinating the hunt for
associates of "UBL" -- for Usama bin Laden…following the
1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. FBI officials said they have
gained a deeper understanding of al Qaeda's operations and strategies by
expanding the number of criminal investigations underway.
But some outside experts are skeptical, arguing that large numbers of
criminal cases and detained immigrants provide little insight into
whether the FBI and other agencies are effectively coping with terrorist
An Investigation in Egypt
Illustrates Al Qaeda's Web
To support their terrorism, they skimmed money from several
Charities including one for Muslim orphans in Albania. They robbed an
Italian diplomat's home in Jordan. They acquired or forged seals from
universities, border guards and the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry.
brook no dissent or deceit: suspecting that the 15-year- old son of one
member in Sudan was an informant, they murdered the boy. These are the
hard-hearted, often itinerant men of Al Qaeda at work.
These men used the Muslim pilgrimages to Islamic holy sites in
Saudi Arabia as cover for recruiting new members or passing cash from
one member to another. They moved money around the globe to bail members
out of jail in Algeria or Canada, and to finance applications for
political asylum and thus implant terrorist cells in Western Europe.
The merger of Al Qaeda and
Islamic Jihad, gradual at first over a decade, then completed in 1998,
vastly enhanced Mr. bin Laden's reach and organizational ability. In
1981 members of Islamic Jihad joined other terrorists in assassinating
President Anwar el- Sadat. But after that attack, before moving under Al
Qaeda's umbrella, Islamic Jihad rarely scored successes on its own.
Still, the network that the two
groups have developed has ranged across the world, extending from the
United States to Yemen, from Azerbaijan to Britain. They have been
damaged, but not yet destroyed, by the American – led attacks in
American officials accuse Jihad
leaders and Mr. bin Laden of conspiring to plot murders, including the
bombings of United States Embassies in Africa, where 224 people died.
The confessions and investigative reports, provided to The New York
Times by Montasser al- Zayat, the lawyer in Cairo who represented most
in the trial, show that the Egyptians provided the tactical support for
Al Qaeda by forging travel documents, transferring money and arranging
communications. We cannot help but wonder but how the war on terrorism
will be fought against these guilty Egyptian parties or even if it will.
In early 1998, when the two
groups announced that they had formed the World Islamic Front for Jihad
Against Jews and Crusaders, the focus of Islamic Jihad shifted from
overthrowing the Egyptian government to attacking American interests.
The merger also appeared to increase the Egyptians' sense of purpose.
"Osama wanted to launch a guerrilla war not only in the Arab and
Islamic world, but in the whole world," one Jihad member, Ahmed
Ibrahim al-Sayed al-Naggar, said during his interrogation by Egyptian
security agents. "He believed these attacks would force America and
its allies to change their policy in the Middle East and the Islamic
world, and this would fulfill the ultimate goals of the Front. It would
show the weakness of these Arab and Islamic leaders compared to the
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Jihad's leader and now Mr. bin Laden's second in command, was at Mr. bin Laden's side in a mud-hut hideout somewhere in Afghanistan, when the World Trade Center was attacked according to a Pakistani journalist who met with them. The scope of the Jihad network is illustrated by the countries where the one-hundred seven defendants in the 1999 trial were arrested; Albania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. It was Egypt's biggest terrorism trial since that of Jihad members in 1981 for the assassination of Sadat.
When the anger of men like Dr.
Zawahiri and Mr. bin Laden turned on the United States and its Arab
allies, Egyptian Jiahad members were drawn to the movement by
conviction."It has nothing to do with age or era," said Mr.
Zayat, who has defended thousands of Islamic militants over the years
and served time in prison for his youthful involvement in an extremist
movement. "It is ideology. These
groups have their own literature that is passed down from generation to
generation. This literature promotes the idea of `jihad' and the use of
violence to overthrow those who do not rule according to God's
The defendants in the 1999 trial
described a network of isolated cells throughout the Middle East and
Europe, staffed by people who kept in contact with Al Qaeda and Jihad
leaders in Afghanistan. Several men said they had acquired forged
passports, including a forged Saudi Arabian passport, from contacts in
Damascus and Latakia in Syria during the 1990's. They made frequent
reference to Mr. bin Laden as the organization's financier and some
spoke of a safe house he financed in Sana, Yemen.
The pictures used in this publication are for the
purpose of illumination, clarification, and illustration
of the material contained within the booklet.
The original works are the property of others and no claim of
copyright or ownership is made for the cropped, edited, and
otherwise modified versions that appear herein.
 Da'wa is the term used, in Islam, to bring others to Islam. This doesn't necessarily mean that the sole purpose is to make the person Muslim, but to confront them with Islam. Many Islamic sources now claim it is a big misconception with some people making Da'wa, is that they set out with the intention to bring that person to Islam, or have them submit themselves to Islam. But from a historically analysis we believe they have not misinterpreted the intent. See endnote on Al-Da’wa.
 This refers to the concept of disbelief and probably should only refer to the pagan disbelief of the kafir, to pagans and not Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians, because they are regarded as "people of the book." However bin Laden and his ilk do have historic precedence for the manner in which they use it.
 There are two separate groups that are lumped under this title. One is a terrorist group and the other a religious group connected with Shi’ism.
 See endnote on bin Laden’s Fatwah
 See endnote on Al-Qaeda
 I use words like supposedly and reputed in relation to bin Laden’s accomplishments because some people presented in the television news discussion panels as experts have cast doubt on his leadership abilities. On one program such a person with supposedly inside knowledge went so far as to say that he could not lead his way out of a wet paper bag.
 His training in the field of management and economics is important to understanding that Osama has the training that would enable him to get things done.
 Azzam is the founder of the Hamas guerrilla group on the occupied West Bank and Gaza
 One bin Laden brother, Abdelaziz, remembers Osama "reading and praying all the time" during this period. Osama certainly became deeply involved in religious activities at university, including theological debates and Koranic studies.
 Osama himself refers to this as his crucial formative event.
 "He was inspired by them," a close friend told The Observer. "He told me these men were true Muslims and had followed a true path."
 The exact amount is debated, but all experts agree that he inherited a considerable amount of money.
 "He couldn't read or write and signed his name with a cross all his life, but he had an extraordinary intelligence," said a French engineer who worked with him in the '60s.
 Visiting the former two sites must have been especially satisfying, for it was the contract to restore and expand the facilities serving pilgrims and worshippers there that established the reputation of his company, confirmed its status as the in-house builders of the Saudi ruling clan and made him stupendously wealthy.
 This was probably done out of respect for what the Koran has to say on the number of wives a person should keep at one time.
 From what we know about Osama bin Ladin, we can see where he has strove mightily to live up to this demand and ideal set by his father.
 The bin Laden family owns 40% of the ABN-Ambro Bank in the Netherlands, and a couple of big company's in America, as well as other holdings.
 She said. "Osama played with my two [young] sons." Akerblad remembered the wealth she found on display when cleaning the boys' rooms. "At the weekends we saw they used the extra bed in their rooms to lay out their clothes. They had lots of white silk shirts packaged in cellophane. I think they had a new one for every day. I never saw the dirty ones. They also had a big bag for their jewelry. They had emeralds and rubies and diamond rings and tie pins." (We note that on this visit they had time for girls.)
 Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia after fighting the Russians in Afghanistan to work in the family construction business, but was expelled in 1991 because of anti-government activities there. He spent the next five years in Sudan until US pressure prompted the Sudanese Government to expel him, whereupon Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan. Osama claimed to leave as a courtesy to that government.
 We could argue that the Saudi Royal Family promotes a brand of Islam consistent with the tribal mores from which Mohammed himself came. They were conciliatory toward those who did not share their particular form of belief, and from that point pursued their own objectives maintaining their own position separate from the rest of the other peoples the came in contact with.
 Credit for information filling in the picture provided in this section must go in large part to Jason Burke who writes for the Observer, a British newspaper. He has covered the war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden from day one.
 Remember that at university Osama heard tapes by the Abdallah Azzam. He at that time demonstrated the ability to copy an effective technique, and his later videotapes showed that he could expand on an idea and modernize.
 We can but note that the extreme politeness of his normal conduct and demeanor concealed tremendous pride and egotism. As observers of Bin Ladin, we are prone to question whether his outrage with the Saudi royals had most to do with his religious zeal or his own enormous pride?
 BBC correspondent James Robbins must also be credited for his contribution to the endeavor to gain insight into the man.
 It was run by Khalid al-Fawwaz, now fighting extradition to the United States from the U.K.
 "I was enraged and went there at once," bin Laden has since told interviewers.
 "He came to the jihad a well-meaning boy and left a man who knew about violence and its uses and effects," said one former associate interviewed by The Observer in Algeria.
 Bin Laden shared more than their fanaticism. "You never knew he was so rich or the commander of everyone. We used to all sit down together and eat like friends," another veteran said.
 The "son of the slave" was now a sheikh in the eyes of many.
 His organization, like any other organization. with a board of directors, a series of subcommittees and too many meetings, ran a trading company called Laden International, a foreign exchange dealership, a civil engineering company and a firm running farms growing peanuts and corn. In payment for building a 700-mile road from the capital to Port Sudan, the government gave bin Laden the monopoly on sesame seed export. Sudan is one of the world's three largest sesame producers, so it was extremely lucrative.
Much of the
informationtion in this segment is adapted from the article carried
written by Dan Eggen and Bob Woodward, Washington Post Staff Writers
for the Sunday, December 30, 2001 edition; Page A01
 Or it might indicate how desperately the FBI is working to get on top of the problem.
 If he is still in the loop concerning terrorism intelligence, his statement might be a strong indicator that the FBI is working with a real dearth of information.
 Concerns about the methods being used in these investigations have a real validity. The argument that some powers given to law enforcement are temporary have proven to be historically untrue. We are still troubled by intrusive legislation and assumed government powers that originated during the last two world wars.
 This is a misleading statement that encourages the hearer or reader to make assumptions that the investigations are valid.
 John Ashcroft, United States Attorney General, was reported to have said that the WTC attack originated from cells located in Germany.
Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism official at the CIA, said
U.S. officials still cannot say with certainty whether al Qaeda
operatives are prevalent here, or whether they are centered
overseas. "Out of all the people incustody, they've got one
definite al Qaeda and are suspicious
of a couple others, and they've got a lot of people under
surveillance that they aren't sure about,… Insofar
as an al Qaeda presence in the United States, they've made very
little headway in uncovering it or peeling back the layers and
penetrating it. . . . They don't know what they don't know."
Much of the
material in this endnote is taken from an article by Susan Sachs
dateline Cairo, November 20,
information obtained from thousands of pages of documents produced
for a 1999 trial of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terror group
whose members became foot
for Osama bin Laden.
 according to the confessions of defendants in the trial.
In what became
known here as "The Trial of the Albanian Returnees," the
court convicted 87 people and sentenced 10 of them to death,
including Dr. Zawahiri, who was tried in absentia. Albania’s
difficult transition from Communist rule after 1990 made it a magnet
for fugitive terrorists. They were the first European State to join
the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
 In short, in spite of others protests to the contrary it is then a matter of their religion.
October 2000, Yemen became the country where the American destroyer
Cole would be rammed by suicide bombers in a boat, resulting in 17
American sailors being killed.