Osama bin Laden

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Osama bin Laden (around 1997)

Usāma ibn Muhammad ibn Awad ibn Lādin , commonly known as Osama bin Laden ( Arabic أسامة بن لادن; * probably between March 1957 and February 1958 in Riyadh , Saudi Arabia ; † May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad , Pakistan ), was a Saudi Arabian terrorist who has been stateless since 1994 . He was the founder and leader of the al-Qaeda group and planned, among other things, the terrorist attacks it carried out on September 11, 2001 .

Bin Laden came from a wealthy Saudi entrepreneurial family and in the 1980s supported the fight of the mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan war with money, weapons, training camps and construction projects.

In 1998, after the Second Gulf War , he issued a fatwa declaring the killing of civilians and soldiers in the United States everywhere a duty of every Muslim . He became a figure that identifies and symbolizes various Islamist terror groups who justify their acts of violence against the Western world as jihad for the self-defense of Islam .

Since the terrorist attacks on the United States' embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, he has been one of the FBI's most wanted targets and the FBI has been looking for him increasingly, but without success until 2010. On the night of May 2, 2011, US soldiers in Operation Neptune shot Spear Bin Laden while storming his property in Pakistan under the orders of US President Barack Obama .

Career (1957 / 58–1979)

Family origin

Bin Laden's father, Muhammad, came from Yemen . Since the 1950s he rose in Saudi Arabia with his family business " Saudi Binladin Group " to become the leading building contractor and multimillionaire, who renovated the most important mosques in Islam and received a voluntary ministerial office. Bin Laden described him around 1999 as the “founder of the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia”, who calculated the mosque renovation in part without profit. After his death, some of his sons continued to run the company and expanded it into a transnational conglomerate with total assets estimated at several billion US dollars. Despite the strain of bin Laden's later terrorist activities, they maintained good contacts with the Saud royal family .

Bin Laden's mother Alia Ghanem (later Hamida al-Attas, Arabic حميدة العطاس, DMG Ḥamīda āl-ʿAṭṭās ; * 1934) comes from a Sunni family in Latakia ( Syria ) and has two brothers and a sister. Assumptions that she belonged to the Shiite Alawites , she and her relatives rejected in 2001.

Muhammad bin Laden met Alia Ghanem in 1956 in Latakia on a business trip, married her there and then moved with her to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, where he had settled in 1931. According to some sources, she was only 14 years old, according to others, over 20 years old. She was the tenth of a total of at least 22 wives from her husband, who divorced many and, according to Islamic law, only ever had four wives at a time. She is said to have been more of a concubine than a wife to him. She is said to be more cosmopolitan than Muhammad's first three Saudi Wahhabi wives, but according to Saudi custom she only appeared in public with a hijab . The family could have referred to her as a “slave woman”, as was customary in households of polygamous Muslims for the fourth wife.

Of up to 57 children his father is said to have fathered, Osama was the seventeenth child and the only one of Alia Ghanem. He was born between March 1957 and February 1958. His exact date of birth is unknown as he gave different times. In 1991 he named the month Rajab of the Islamic year 1377, which corresponds to January or February 1958. In 1998 he is said to have mentioned March 10, 1957 in an interview with the news channel Al Jazeera ; in the transcript of the interview, however, only the Islamic year 1377 (i.e. between July 1957 and July 1958) is mentioned. He named the Malaz district of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh as the place of birth . Lawrence Wright believes January 1958 to be the likely date of birth.

The first name "Osama" poetically describes the "lion" in Arabic and is reminiscent of one of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed . Bin Laden could have been given the nickname “son of the slave” as the only son of his father's fourth legal wife. Feelings of inferiority are therefore suspected as a possible drive to terrorism.

youth

Bin Laden temporarily spent his earliest childhood where his father was carrying out construction contracts in Saudi Arabia. From the age of six months he always lived in his home region of Hejaz , alternating between Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. Bin Laden repeatedly emphasized his early proximity to holiest places in interviews. As a boy, he spent most of his time at his family's house in the al-Amarija suburb of Jeddah. He rarely saw his father, who was often on business trips, and was unable to develop a personal relationship with him, also because of the many siblings.

When bin Laden was four or five years old, his father divorced Alia and arranged a new marriage for her with the company employee Muhammad al-Attas. Osama accompanied his mother to her new home near her father's family home. In the new household he took care of the upbringing of the four younger half-siblings - three boys, one girl. He had an intimate relationship with his mother, but that with his stepfather was complicated because of his work for the biological father. His childhood friend Chaled Batarfi described Osama as "calm, shy, almost girlish". He was also considered consistently peaceable and rarely hot-tempered. Former school friends remember his seriousness and honesty.

Muhammad bin Laden died in a plane crash on September 3, 1967. Since Osama and his brothers were not yet of legal age, they could not take on the paternal inheritance. Thereupon King Faisal appointed three trustees who were to administer the family fortune for a few years and to take care of a proper education of the sons. From 1968 onwards, bin Laden attended the state, western-oriented al-Thagr school in central Jeddah. Like all of her students, he wore an Anglo-Saxon school uniform and was taught by British and Irish English teachers, among others. One of his science teachers described him as an "average" student, while the Irish guest teacher Seamus O'Brien described him as a "good" student. While his half-brothers attended schools in England and Lebanon, he is said to have only been trained in Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden appropriately spent his holidays mountain climbing in Turkey or on safari with friends in Kenya. He owned several limousines and horses early on. He was known for the risky way he crossed the desert by 4x4 and on horseback. He was domesticated and maintained family relationships. According to his own memory, he helped out on the family company's road construction sites from an early age.

When the Bin Laden Society was about to take on a major construction contract, he wanted to leave school to prove himself in the family business. It was only after his mother's contradiction, so Bin Laden's memory in 1991, that he decided to finish his training.

Discovery of religion and politics

Bin Laden grew up in the tradition of the Wahhabis or Salafists , a Hanbali branch of Sunni Islam. Although there was no evidence of a strong interest in religion and politics in his early youth, he got to know people with a religious background at an early age. During the Dhu l-hijjah , his father regularly offered numerous pilgrims to Mecca, including high clergymen and leaders of Islamic movements. The father was interested in theological questions and often encouraged his guests to debate them.

Osama's relationship to religion may have developed at the al-Thagr school under the influence of a Syrian physical education teacher described as charismatic. He took part in meetings of a study group that the teacher set up to discuss and internalize passages of the Koran and hadiths with interested parties. Appealing to principles, the teacher described, among other things, parables to legitimize fundamentalist motivated violence. The teacher allegedly belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood , whom Bin Laden joined while he was still at school.

The Syrian and Egyptian offshoots of this group strove for a revolutionary and anti-imperialist change of attitude in the Muslim world in the 1970s. In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia did not strive for political overthrow, as the socially conservative ulema of Saudi Wahhabism support the rule of the Saud royal family .

Bin Laden turned to religion from the age of 14 and practiced strict self-mortification. He also demanded this from members of the al-Attas household, especially his half-siblings. For the five daily prayer times he inserted another at 1:00 a.m., fasted like Mohammed two days a week, from then on hardly wore any western clothes and turned away from music and television. Bin Laden has now expressed concern about the state of the Arab and Muslim world, particularly the situation of the Palestinians . He saw the cause of political malaise in the general neglect of religion. He complained that Muslims were distant from God and that young Muslims were just busy indulging in worldly things.

His brothers were also considered very pious. Bin Laden's stricter religiosity was admired rather than criticized in the family. But mother Alia Ghanem watched her son's later radicalization with concern.

Education

In 1976, Bin Laden enrolled in business administration and civil engineering at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. However, he paid more attention to religious activities than to his studies. He founded a religious welfare organization, within the framework of which he interpreted the Koran and the doctrine of jihad with other students .

A number of professors at King Abdul Aziz University were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. With the aim of reconciling political and religious order on the basis of the Koran, they advocated the reshaping of Muslim societies. The wing of radical Muslim Brotherhood propagated a violent political struggle against moderate Muslims.

Some sources indicate that bin Laden only turned to more radical political doctrines during this period. These were mainly based on the works of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb , whose books “ Signs on the Path ” and “ In the Shadow of the Koran ” were widely distributed in the Arab world after his execution in 1966. To this end, Mohammad Qutb , who saw himself as the standard bearer of the teachings of his brother, who was executed in 1966, gave regular lectures at Bin Laden's University, which he listened to. But according to his friend Jamal Khalifa, he hesitated before accepting those teachings. The revolutionary rhetoric of radical Muslim Brotherhood was attractive to students because it differed from the conservative stance of Saudi theologians.

Bin Laden was looking for a field of activity in his father's company during his studies. When urged, his brothers gave him a part-time job. He supervised the construction of roads, hotels and pilgrims' accommodation in Mecca. There he lend a hand and operated heavy equipment. Although he emphasized in interviews in later years that he was able to combine extra income and studies at the time, he could not withstand the stresses. In 1979, a year before graduation, he left the university. According to conflicting reports, he is said to have obtained a university degree in civil engineering or public administration in 1979 or 1981.

Early stays abroad

According to some reports, bin Laden is said to have accompanied family members on trips to London or Sweden at a young age. Various sources also state that bin Laden attended a summer school in the UK or boarding school in Switzerland. During an alleged boarding school in Lebanon, he is said to have maintained a western lifestyle with alcohol consumption, dancing in night clubs and sexual permissiveness.

According to other reports, there is no credible evidence for most of these stays abroad; possibly bin Laden was mistaken for half-brothers or other people.

In 2009, bin Laden's first wife Najwa wrote in her memoir that he and she and several sons had toured the state of Indiana in the USA in 1979 . Bin Laden also flew to Los Angeles for a week to meet with Abdallah Yusuf Azzam and other men. His family stayed in Indiana with a friend Najwas.

Marriages and children

Marriages and descendants of Osama bin Laden

Bin Laden married his fourteen-year-old maternal cousin Najwa Ibrahim Ghanem in 1974, whom he had met through annual visits to relatives in Syria in the summer and whom he had been promised. The young couple lived in the household of their mother and stepfather for several years. They had eleven children together. Although she grew up secularly, Najwa always wore the hijab that is common for Saudi women in public since her wedding. Bin Laden's former sister-in-law Carmen bin Laden describes her as “very young, submissive and constantly pregnant”.

While they were still studying together, bin Laden and his friend Jamal Chalifa decided to live a polygamous life. This was now considered unacceptable in Saudi Arabia because Muslim men often took advantage of this for short marriages. Osama and Chalifa therefore advocated the compatibility of Islam and non-abusive polygamy.

In 1982 bin Laden married Umm Hamsa, seven years older than him, from the respected Sabar family from Jeddah. She has a university degree in child psychology and has taught at the women's college at Abd-ul-Aziz University. Bin Laden moved into a house in Jeddah with both women and the children from his first marriage. With Umm Hamsa he had another son, Hamza .

Bin Laden's third wife, Umm Chaled, from the Sharif family in Medina, completed a degree in Arabic linguistics and lectured at a teaching college in her hometown. In addition to their son Khaled, they have three daughters. The fourth wife, Umm Ali from the Gilaini family in Mecca, has three children with Bin Laden. At her request, he divorced her in 1994 while he was in Sudan. According to Saudi tradition, the children stayed with their mother and returned to Mecca with her.

In 2000, Bin Laden married the then 18-year-old Jeminite Amal Ahmed al-Sadah in Kandahar . She also became his nurse after his hepatitis C disease broke out in 2001. She was injured and arrested when he was killed on May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad. She and her daughter, born in 2001, are in Pakistani custody.

Bin Laden had at least 24 children with these five wives. He was portrayed as a loving but also a strict father. He refused to send his children to school and had them tutored by private tutors. As a result, some of the children lagged behind their peers in their education, and some could barely read.

A wife and several children were arrested when crossing the border from Afghanistan in early September 2001 and have been held in Iran ever since. Khaled bin Laden wrote to the Iranian leadership in March 2010 to request that she be released.

His son Hamza is said to have married the daughter of the 9/11 assassin Mohammed Atta in 2018 . Since the latter allegedly called for attacks against the USA in order to avenge the killing of his father by American special forces, the USA offered a bounty of $ 1 million for clues leading to his capture. In September 2019, the White House announced that Hamza bin Laden had been killed in an operation the United States was conducting in Afghanistan or Pakistan. At the exact time of his death, the White House made no statement.

Turning to gun violence

From 1979 onwards, bin Laden turned to the fight with armed force for the implementation of ideological-religious goals in predominantly Muslim countries. Three events of that year are often cited as reasons for this in literature: the successful Islamic Revolution in Iran , which also fundamentalist Sunnis took as a model, the occupation of the Great Mosque in Mecca from November 20, 1979, and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan which began on December 25, 1979, the Soviet-Afghan war .

Shortly after the mosque in Mecca was occupied, the brothers Osama and Mahrous bin Laden were arrested for one or two days because they allegedly behaved suspiciously or because construction trailers of the Bin Laden Company had been used to smuggle weapons into Mecca without their knowledge. There is no evidence that Osama knew about the terrorist action in advance, and he distanced himself from it at the time; however, he found words of praise for her in later years.

Afghanistan (1979–1989)

Support for the "Arab Afghans"

Bin Laden stated in an interview in 1993 that the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan had angered him so much that he traveled to Afghanistan for the first time just a few days later. The statements of companions and journalists about his arrival in Pakistan differ: the journalist Ahmad Zaidan states within two weeks of the Soviet intervention, the journalist Jamal Khashoggi the November 1980 and bin Laden's childhood friend Jamal Khalifa the year 1984. Afghanistan is supposed to be 1984 first visited. However, he kept the trips a secret from his family. In the following years he said he would have visited the country regularly to personally deliver donations. According to various sources, bin Laden was initially less interested in Afghanistan than in the uprising of the Muslim Brothers against the rule of the Alawite Ba'ath Party in Syria. The revolt began in 1976 and was not bloodily suppressed until 1982. Bin Laden is said to have supported the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood financially and only turned to Afghanistan after their defeat.

When the Saudi leadership organized the establishment of regional aid committees for Afghanistan, bin Laden became branch manager for the Hejaz region at the family request . Abdallah Yusuf Azzam was his guest on several trips to Jeddah and tried to give lectures to encourage young Saudis to join the mujahideen. Since 1980 or 1981 he had attended Azzam's lectures in Jeddah. During reciprocal visits, a close personal bond developed between the two over the years. Bin Laden's house developed into an important contact point by 1984, where Afghanistan volunteers from various countries gathered before leaving for Pakistan. Bin Laden worked as a fundraiser and set up military training camps in the urban area. According to his wife Najwa, he met Azzam in 1979 during a two-week stay in Indiana, USA.

Until 1984 he traveled several times to Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan to support the resistance. He stayed away from Afghanistan and Peshawar because the Saudi leadership had allegedly forbidden him to appear there personally. Since his regular trips prevented him from doing his duties in the family business, he lost his job.

In 1984, at the invitation of Azzam, bin Laden visited a mujahideen camp in eastern Afghanistan and witnessed a Soviet attack there. He was ashamed of his absence for years: "I felt that this four-year delay could not be forgiven if I did not become a martyr myself." He was now convinced that the support of the mujahideen had to be intensified. He traveled back to Saudi Arabia and there soon raised around 10 million US dollars in donations. During a joint Hajj, he and Azzam agreed to strengthen and better coordinate the few Arab volunteers for Afghanistan. Azzam issued a fatwa, which is quite controversial in the Islamic world, in which he declared the fight in Afghanistan to be the duty of all capable Muslims (fard ayn) .

In 1984 bin Laden set up an inn called Bait al-ansār in Peshawar , which served as a contact point for Arab mujahideen. With Azzam he founded the Peshawar office Maktab al-Chadamāt for the purpose of organizing and caring for the fighters and for the purpose of distributing the donations among Afghan refugees. He also supported Abu Sajaf in founding the University of Dawa al-Jihad , an institution in the Peshawar area that later served as a training center for terrorists. As a financier, bin Laden became a person of great respect among the mujahideen, although he was unable to fulfill the role of the charismatic military leader.

Despite the legends that Azzam and later Bin Laden spread about their work, the influence of Arab volunteers on the Afghan fight for freedom was minimal. The number of “Arab Afghans” was never more than 50 until 1984; it rose steadily from 1985 onwards, but never exceeded 3000. Most of them stayed in Peshawar, where they focused on helping the Afghan refugees, and never took participated in battles against the Soviet Army . The cult of martyrs developed by these Arabs, who were soon estranged from their homelands, inspired by the writings of Sayyid Qutb and Abdallah Azzam, remained alien to the Afghan mujahideen. Military aid from the Arabs was not always welcome either. The same applied to their attempts to spread Wahhabi or other Arabic religious principles in Afghanistan or to hinder the work of Western aid organizations and correspondents in the country.

Participation in the partisan fight

At the beginning of his engagement in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bin Laden spent several months a year with his family in Saudi Arabia. On these occasions, he reported to the Saudi authorities on his overseas activities. In 1986 he brought his wives and children to Peshawar. He had the caves of Tora-Bora on the Afghan-Pakistani border expanded into ammunition dumps and for the first time led a small unit of Arab volunteers into combat in Afghanistan, from where they had to withdraw quickly.

His decision to maintain his own resistance camps for Arabs on Afghan soil on a permanent basis brought him into conflict with Azzam, who only wanted the volunteers, who were ignorant of the locality and language, to fight as members of Afghan units. Bin Laden had artificial caves built in the first Masaada ("Lion's Cave") camp in northeastern Afghanistan using heavy construction equipment provided by the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), in which the fighters could entrench themselves.

Since the spring of 1987 he led his men in smaller battles against Soviet units, which mostly ended with humiliating defeats and retreat. This damaged the reputation of the Arab volunteers among Afghan mujahideen and Pakistani supporters. However, bin Laden's men succeeded in retaking the Masaada fortress, which had to be briefly evacuated due to strong Soviet attacks. For the “Afghan Arabs” this became a mythical event that seemed to have divine support. According to conflicting reports, bin Laden is said to have shown strong nerves during such battles or to have been ill and indisposed.

Founding of al-Qaeda and end of the Afghanistan mission

In May 1988 the Soviets began their withdrawal from Afghanistan, which lasted until February 1989. Bin Laden and the other leaders of the “Arab Afghans” wanted to keep their men out of an emerging fratricidal war between the mujahideen groups and to continue the jihad against “infidels” elsewhere. At a meeting in Peshawar on August 11, 1988, they decided to unite suitable men in a new organization called al-Qaeda ("the grassroots"). According to bin Laden, the term initially referred to the military training camp, in which fighters were tested for suitability for the new Arab elite region.

There was disagreement about where exactly the jihad should continue. The Egyptian Aiman ​​az-Zawahiri , who had meanwhile gained great influence over bin Laden, pleaded for the overthrow of secular regimes in countries like Egypt. For Abdallah Azzam, against the background of the First Intifada, the struggle for Palestine had priority, which he wanted to fight with the help of the newly founded Islamic Hamas as a counterweight to the secular Fatah Yasser Arafat . Bin Laden suggested deploying the “Arab Afghans” in Kashmir , the Philippines or the Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.

Because most of the money flowed from Saudi Arabia to support the “Arab Afghans”, the leadership of the jihadists should also be a Saudi task. The fact that bin Laden was chosen in 1988 for this “ Emir ” was also due to the growing animosity between the Egyptians around Zawahiri and the supporters of Azzam. The Arab groups, which, against the background of the Soviet withdrawal, saw more volunteers than ever before, subsequently competed for bin Laden's favor and funding. At the same time, the Saudi leadership and the USA reduced their aid to the Arab mujahideen, which angered them and made the former supporters appear as new opponents. In a 1999 interview with Al Jazeera , bin Laden denied that the Arab jihadists had ever received US support.

In the struggle for the city of Jalalabad , bin Laden and his men, together with the Afghan mujahideen, suffered a heavy defeat against the Afghan government troops in the spring of 1989. The setback exacerbated the dispute between the factions of the mujahideen. Bin Laden traveled to Saudi Arabia to receive instructions from the government in Riyadh as to which side to support. He received the reply that it would be best for him and his men to leave Afghanistan and Pakistan entirely. Bin Laden did so and returned to his home country in autumn 1989, as did most of the Arab volunteers. Azzam, who remained in Peshawar, died in November 1989 in an assassination attempt by unknown authors.

Saudi Arabia (1989–1992)

After returning to Saudi Arabia, bin Laden lived alternately in Jeddah and in Medina . He worked again in the family business and mainly supervised road construction projects. His fortune at the time is estimated at 7 million US dollars, around 270,000 US dollars flowed annually through profit shares in the SBG. In Saudi Arabia, he had become a respectable figure. The Saudi media painted the picture that bin Laden and his men were primarily responsible for the defeat of the world power Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

In bin Laden's speeches and actions, a growing sense of political mission emerged, which harbored potential for conflict with the Saudi leadership. In the family mosque in Jeddah, he argued several times for the need to conduct jihad against the United States, since Washington would only refrain from supporting Israel if it used violence. He urged his audience to boycott American merchandise.

In 1990, bin Laden suggested that Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud , head of the Saudi foreign intelligence service, lead his men, trained in Afghanistan, into the fight against the communist leadership in South Yemen , but the proposal was rejected. When South and North Yemen were united in 1991, bin Laden made several trips to the neighboring country with North Yemeni tribal leaders with the aim of deliberately killing the leaders of the socialists from the south participating in the new coalition government in Yemen. Men from bin Laden's al-Qaeda group outside Afghanistan were deployed in these operations for the first time. As a result of multiple protests by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih to the Saudi King Fahd , bin Laden had to stop his campaign in Yemen. His passport was withdrawn and the leadership forbade him to pursue foreign policy activities.

Bin Laden also warned against Saddam Hussein's secular regime in Iraq. He saw his fears confirmed when the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and triggered the Second Gulf War . Saudi Arabia was convinced that the capture of Kuwaiti oil fields was Hussein's real goal. The government in Riyadh reluctantly accepted the offer from Washington to station several hundred thousand American soldiers in the country to protect Saudi Arabia (→  Operation Desert Storm ). Bin Laden viewed this invitation to non-Muslims as a violation of Muhammad's command that there should only be one religion in Arabia. He tried in vain to convince the Saudi leadership that he alone could raise a volunteer army of 100,000 men to defend the country.

The Kuwait War ended in March 1991. Then, with the help of influential supporters, bin Laden campaigned to lift his travel ban. He wanted to return to Afghanistan to mediate between divided mujahideen groups that were now on the brink of overthrowing the Marxist government in Kabul. In March 1992, he received his passport back and traveled to Afghanistan. There he soon got the impression that his mediation efforts undermined Prince Turki's attempts to strengthen Gulbuddin Hekmatyār's Islamic group . Bin Laden told those around him that the Saudi leadership was planning to have him murdered in a plot with the Pakistani secret service ISI .

Sudan (1992–1996)

Life and economic activity

Bin Laden decided not to return to Saudi Arabia. Instead, he accepted an invitation issued by the government in Khartoum in 1990 to settle in Sudan . Bin Laden knew the country from business trips for the SBG, which was expanding the Bur Sudan airport . In 1989, in the large, poor and politically unstable Sudan, there was a military coup sponsored by Islamic groups. In contrast to the governments of other Arab states, the new Sudanese leadership welcomed the arrival of Arab exmujahiddin from Afghanistan to the country. Several hundred did so in the following years. Bin Laden followed with his wives and children in 1992. They lived together in a villa in the Khartoum district of Riyadh.

Hasan at-Turabi , chairman of the National Islamic Front , which was founded in 1969 as a counterpart to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is considered the spiritual leader of the Islamization of Sudan . Turabi wanted to make Sudan the center of an Islamic revolution, in the course of which the community of all Muslims (" Umma ") and a demarcation from the West would be brought about. Many of his ideas that Sharia law could only be introduced gradually could not be reconciled with those of bin Laden. Later they both got into disagreements about it.

Bin Laden founded a number of companies in Sudan, which were combined to form the umbrella company Wadi El Aqiq . She worked in different branches of the economy; such as construction, leather production, insecticide production, import of trucks, machines and bicycles as well as agriculture. In the poorly developed Sudanese economy, bin Laden became the main investor, even though only around 500 employees worked for him. He also lent money to the Sudanese state several times to buy wheat and oil. Bin Laden received land in payment for the expansion of roads and thus rose to become perhaps the largest landowner in the country. He almost had a monopoly on the export of important Sudanese agricultural products such as sesame and gum arabic . In addition, he acquired several houses in Khartoum, in which he entertained guests and followers. He distributed his fortune in accounts in Khartoum, Dubai, London, Malaysia and Hong Kong, which were kept under the names of al-Qaida members. Since his economic activities mostly recorded losses, Bin Laden remained dependent on monthly profit sharing from the SBG.

At the beginning of his stay in Sudan, bin Laden showed little inclination to continue his political activity. He told friends that the political struggle was over for him. Al Qaeda members who worked on its estates continued to conduct military exercises, but on a small scale. Bin Laden even resisted the demand to use his fighters in the civil war of the Sudanese government against the Christian south of the country.

USA as the new main opponent

At weekly meetings of the al-Qaida leadership in bin Laden's guest house in Khartoum, the threat posed by the USA to the Islamic world was increasingly discussed. Despite commitments to withdraw from Washington at the beginning of the Kuwait War, US troops were still stationed in Saudi Arabia. The US military operation in Somalia, which began in November 1992 in support of the UN operation “ Restoration of Hope ”, appeared to the al-Qaida leadership as part of a comprehensive crusade strategy of the Christian West against Islam. Calls for jihad against the United States came up from people around Bin Laden. He soon joined these demands under the influence of his friend and religious adviser Mamduh Mahmud Salim, known as Abu Hadscher .

On December 29, 1992, there were two bomb attacks on hotels in Aden , Yemen ; two people died. The targets of the attacks were presumably US soldiers who were housed in the city as part of the Somalia mission; but they were not harmed. In some representations, the attacks that were barely registered in the US media are considered the first acts of al-Qaeda; Bin Laden also admitted the authorship of his organization in later years. Because killing innocent people is a moral dilemma, Abu Hajjers issued two fatwas in which he legitimized the murder of US soldiers and those who directly or indirectly supported them.

Internationalization of activities

Until 1994, al-Qaida networked with other Islamist groups on an international level, some of which pursued other goals and also had other structures and methods. During this time bin Laden met Imad Mughniyah , the security chief of the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, and al-Qaida men were practicing in Hezbollah training camps. There were also contacts to the Islamic Association of Umar Abd ar-Rahman , the “blind sheikh” who wanted to initiate a political overthrow in Egypt by attacking politicians and tourists. For Rahman, too, the USA, as a supporter of the government in Cairo, now became an opponent. Rahman supporters had been planning terrorist attacks in New York since 1992 , which, according to later information from the FBI , would be financed by Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda also maintained contacts with the al-Jihad group under Aiman al- Zawahiri, who bin Laden knew from Afghanistan. Like Rahman, Zawahiri wanted to overthrow the Egyptian regime, but rejected the Islamic Association's operations because they led to anti-terrorist actions by the Egyptian secret police, which also included cells from al-Jihad. During this time, Zawahiri refused to take part in the anti-American campaign by Rahman and Bin Laden because he hoped to use the Americans for his own purposes. In 1993, however, constant financial difficulties in his organization forced him to seek financial support from bin Laden. He originally saw the cooperation only as a temporary alliance. In a failed attack on the Egyptian interior minister, Hassan al-Alfi, al-Jihad first used suicide bombers in August 1993. Up until then, this was an almost unknown practice among Sunni groups.

On February 26, 1993, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, killing six people and injuring over a thousand. Since the perpetrator had been trained to be an explosives specialist in an Afghan al-Qaeda camp, Western media became aware of this group and bin Laden for the first time. On May 30, 1993 , the Agence France-Presse news agency reported on a man who was “trained by al-Qaida” and also spoke of “a secret organization in Afghanistan financed by a wealthy Saudi businessman named Osama bin Laden who runs a construction company in Jeddah. ”It remained unclear whether Yousef carried out the attack in New York on behalf of Rahman or Bin Laden.

Bin Laden's increasing popularity led more and more young men from various Islamic countries to al-Qaida's training camp south of Khartoum. The exercises were carried out on weapons that had been shipped from the Afghan Tora-Bora to Sudan on a US military aircraft acquired by Bin Laden. He welcomed new jihadists personally, portrayed the US as the main enemy of the Muslim world and claimed that the Vietnam War and the US withdrawal from Lebanon in 1983 had shown that the Americans' will to fight could be broken by relatively small losses. He found this confirmed when the US military withdrew from Somalia in March 1994. He presented the withdrawal as a success of al-Qaeda. Their involvement in the killing of US soldiers in the Battle of Mogadishu was later confirmed by US intelligence officials; The Sudanese secret service countered that only a few dozen al-Qaida fighters had been sent to Somalia, where they came into conflict with local militia leaders and had fled back to Sudan in October 1993.

Bin Laden temporarily supported the GIA's guerrilla war against the military in Algeria , which had put in a coup after the election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front in 1992. However, GIA officials soon accused bin Laden of weakness and indulgence towards democrats. The latter feared that the GIA's terror campaign, which killed tens of thousands of civilians, would damage the reputation of the jihadist movement. He eventually withdrew his support from the GIA.

During the Bosnian War there were numerous atrocities by foreign Muslim volunteers, among others under the leadership of the commander-in-chief of the Bosnian army , Rasim Delić , so-called mujahideen , against Serbs and Croats in central Bosnia and the region of Ozren. Sent by bin Laden, al-Qaeda supporters fought with the Bosnian army on the front lines throughout the war.

Growing problems

On February 4 and 5, 1994, a radical group led by the Libyan Abdullah al-Khalifei, a former mujahideen, attempted to assassinate bin Laden. In several confused actions, Khalifei and his men attacked two police stations in Khartoum to steal weapons, killed 16 people in the storming of Bin Laden's mosque, fired at employees of his companies and finally attacked his villa, where they were overwhelmed. Bin Laden, who suspected that the Egyptian secret service was responsible, was unharmed, but several of his employees and guests were hit by bullets. Bin Laden had to change his previously free lifestyle in Sudan accordingly. At Zawahiri's urging, Egyptian bodyguards surrounded him constantly and he left his house only armed.

While most Western intelligence agencies had not yet become aware of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, their activities brought the Saudi leadership in the Arab world increasingly under diplomatic distress. Algeria and Egypt called on the Saudis to put a stop to their citizens. When an attempt to exert moderating influence over bin Laden by sending members of his family to Sudan failed, King Fahd withdrew his Saudi citizenship on March 5, 1994. Shortly afterwards, his half-brother Bakr bin Laden, head of the clan, expelled him from the family in a public statement. The Saudi Interior Ministry confiscated bin Laden's shares in UBS, which quickly put him in financial difficulties. He then intensified his rhetoric against the Saudi king and the clergy who supported him. An information office operated by al-Qaeda in London, known as the “Advice and Reformation Committee”, served to spread the propaganda directed against the regime in Riyadh.

Bin Laden's problems also grew in his private life. Several of his growing sons were dissatisfied with the living conditions in Sudan and wanted to return to Saudi Arabia. His fourth wife, Umm Ali, asked for a divorce, and bin Laden agreed. Umm Ali moved to Mecca with their three children.

Because of his financial difficulties, bin Laden informed the al-Qaida men in late 1994 that he would have to cut their salaries. Special assignments for his immediate vicinity were also restricted. So far, most al-Qaeda members assumed that its financial resources were inexhaustible. Since the close cohesion of the jihadists in Sudan was also related to the regular payments, the announcement was daunting. There were first sales movements. Medani al-Tajeb, the treasurer of al-Qaeda, who was married to a niece of bin Laden, returned to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden's close Sudanese follower Jamal al-Fadl went into hiding after embezzling money from Bin Laden's company. Fadl then offered information about al-Qaeda to several intelligence agencies and sold it to the American government in 1996 for $ 1 million. Fadl reported to the Americans, among other things, that in 1994 bin Laden tried to obtain uranium from a Sudanese general via black market channels in order to apparently be able to build a “ dirty atom bomb ”. However, bin Laden was defrauded in the deal. He also worked with the Sudanese government on the production of chemical warfare agents.

The Saudi Arabian leadership was still trying to persuade Bin Laden to give in through intermediaries. He was offered the restitution of his property, the return of his citizenship and possibly also cash payments. In return, he should renounce jihad and revoke his attacks on King Fahd. However, bin Laden also demanded a full amnesty and a fixed schedule for the full withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia. The negotiations did not lead to any result. With an open letter sent by fax to King Fahd, in which he asked him to resign, bin Laden carried out the final break with the Saudi leadership in August 1995. He denounced the political, economic and social conditions in Saudi Arabia, made the king personally responsible for his ostentatiousness as well as the dependence on the raw material crude oil and protested again against the stationing of American troops in his homeland: “These dirty, unbelieving crusaders must not be allowed to stay in the holy land. ”However, bin Laden, who was hoping that Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz would take over the throne , did not call for the overthrow of the House of Saud or a political revolution in Saudi Arabia.

In a bomb attack on the command post of the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh, seven people died on November 13, 1995, including five US citizens who were supposed to train the Saudi security forces. The Saudi leadership assessed the act as an act of revenge for the execution of an “Arab Afghan” a few months earlier. In response to the attack, more “Arab Afghans” were arrested and four allegedly responsible persons were shown on Saudi television reading confessions of guilt and claiming to have been incited by statements by bin Laden and other radicals. However, there are doubts as to whether the confessions obtained under torture point to the real perpetrator. Bin Laden never publicly confessed to al-Qaeda's role in the attack, but is said to have told an Arab journalist in confidence that he had activated the responsible cell after his letter to King Fahd had no consequences.

Expulsion

On June 26, 1995, al-Jihad and the Islamic Association carried out an assassination attempt on Egyptian President Husni Mubarak . The setting was the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa , where Mubarak was staying for a summit of the OAU . The operation was led by Mustafa Hamsa, a senior member of both al-Qaeda and the Islamic Association. Mubarak was unharmed by the attackers' bullets, but two of his bodyguards and three attackers died in the exchange of fire. By arresting other conspirators, the Ethiopian police were able to expose the Sudanese connections of the masterminds. The UN Security Council called on Sudan in January 1996 with UN Resolution 1044 to extradite those responsible to Ethiopia and to cease harbor terrorists. Far-reaching economic sanctions against the country came into force in April 1996. In the aftermath of the attack, the Egyptian secret police forced two Egyptian youths to spy on the area around Zawahiri in Khartoum and to help with the planned murder of the al-Jihad leader. However, several attacks on Zawahiri's life failed and the young spies were exposed. Zawahiri had them executed in a private tribunal; Hasan at-Turabi and the Sudanese leadership were appalled by the fact that they accused the Egyptian jihadists of disregarding the laws of their host country. Zawahiri and his supporters were asked to leave Sudan immediately. They traveled to Afghanistan, Jordan and Yemen. Because of the close ties between al-Jihad and al-Qaeda, bin Laden lost some of his most important followers in Sudan.

The weakened al-Jihad carried out a suicide attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan on November 19, 1995 , in which 16 people died and 60 were injured. Since both the killing of simple embassy employees and the use of suicides were controversial among al-Jihad members, Zawahiri felt compelled to defend the attack in several declarations: whoever had worked for the Egyptian government, even if it was only a low one Position, could not be considered an innocent victim; and martyrdom is a legitimate means of fighting God's enemies. The execution of the assassination and Zawahiri's justifications became the model for subsequent actions by al-Qaeda. Bin Laden disapproved of the Islamabad attack because he did not want to make Pakistan, the most important link to his positions in Afghanistan and host country of many “Arab Afghans”, an enemy of the jihadists. He personally obtained the release of 200 “Arab Afghans” from the Pakistani authorities who had been arrested after the attack. They were allowed to accompany bin Laden to Sudan.

The attacks in Addis Ababa and Islamabad undermined bin Laden's position in Sudan, even though the attacks were not al-Qaeda operations. The government in Khartoum was now trying to avert the threatened diplomatic isolation of the country, and bin Laden's whereabouts were viewed with suspicion. The Sudanese secret service spread false rumors that bin Laden would be extradited to France; this should evidently move him to voluntarily leave the country. President Omar al-Bashir offered the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah the transfer of bin Laden to Saudi Arabia if he were to be granted impunity. The offer was rejected. The USA let the leadership in Khartoum know in confidence that bin Laden's expulsion was a prerequisite for Sudan to be removed from the list of states supporting international terrorism. Extradition to the United States was not requested because there was apparently no evidence to charge bin Laden with the murder of US citizens.

In several personal conversations in the spring of 1996, Hasan at-Turabi bin Laden explained that the al-Qaida leader would either have to cease his political activities or leave Sudan. Bin Laden, who did not bow to the ultimatum, referred to Sudan's obligation to thank for its investments in the country. In the end he agreed to leave the country. Because he did not have a passport, the choice of possible refuge was limited. After considering going into hiding in Egypt and Somalia, bin Laden decided to go back to Afghanistan. Although the Sudanese government still owed him money, they forced him to sell his large holdings in the country for a fraction of their value. On May 18, 1996, bin Laden was flown from Sudan to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He was only accompanied by his sons Saad and Omar and a few bodyguards. Bin Laden financed the return flight to their home countries for the remaining al-Qaida men. Some of them were invited to follow him to Afghanistan. On June 25, 1996, 19 people lost their lives in a bomb attack on US soldiers in Zahran , Saudi Arabia.

Afghanistan (1996-2001)

Training camps, attacks, persecution

Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in 1996, where the state order was largely in disarray due to the civil war that had raged since 1989 . That instability enabled the Taliban under Mohammed Omar to gain political upper hand. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia pledged financial and logistical support to the Taliban to seize and maintain power; In addition, the Taliban extorted protection money from poppy farmers and opiate smugglers.

Bin Laden set up around fifty military training camps in Afghanistan . On February 23, 1998, he and Aiman ​​al-Zawahiri and others signed a fatwa establishing an International Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders . The fatwa reads as follows:

“It should become the duty of every Muslim to kill the Americans and all their allies; whether civilians or military. Everyone who is empowered, from any country in which he is empowered, should rid the holy places of unbelievers and expel them from all Islamic countries. The infidels must be forced down to stave off the threat from us Muslims. [...] In the name of Allah we call on every devout and godly Muslim to obey Allah's command and kill the Americans. Take their assets wherever and whenever it is appropriate. [...] Whoever does not fulfill his duty, will overtake Allah's bitter vengeance. "

The aim of al-Qaeda is "the expulsion of American troops from the Gulf region, the overthrow of the Saudi royal house and thus the liberation of the holy places of the Muslims and the worldwide support of militant Islamist groups".

The first arrest warrant for bin Laden was requested by the Libyan government on March 16, 1998 and officially confirmed by Interpol on April 15, 1998. He was suspected of the murder of two BND officers .

On August 7, 1998, there were two attacks on the US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. About 224 people were killed and about 5,000 injured. According to Western media reports, the attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda based in the region on behalf of bin Laden. US President Clinton was on 20 August 1998 then several training camp near the Afghan Khost with cruise missiles to take under fire. In one of the camps, as the CIA announced in 2001, high-ranking members of al-Qaeda were gathering on that day; and even bin Laden was present. But a good hour before the bombardment, he left the site again. Another target of the missile attack was the Ash Shifa drug factory in Sudan, which was mistakenly mistaken for an al-Qaeda chemical weapons factory. According to Clinton's words, the air strikes were intended to severely weaken the network of radical al-Qaeda groups; for one already sensed the role of bin Laden as an influential organizer and financier of international terrorism at the time.

On June 7, 1999, the US government placed bin Laden on the FBI's Most Wanted Fugitive List. By October 1999, the CIA had trained around 60 Pakistani secret commandos to track down and hunt down bin Laden in Afghanistan. In a cooperative manner , Clinton offered the then regent of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif the prospect of easing existing trade sanctions and providing economic aid. General Pervez Musharraf , however, overthrew Sharif on October 12, 1999, and prevented the secret project from continuing despite substantial US objections. Until 2001, the US government tried to persuade the Taliban to extradite bin Laden. Although they showed themselves to be ready to talk, in return they demanded that their regime be recognized and the boycott measures in place to be lifted.

On October 12, 2000, members of al-Qaeda committed a suicide attack on the warship USS Cole (DDG 67) . On December 19, 2000, the UN Security Council gave the Taliban regime the ultimatum to extradite the alleged terrorist leader Bin Laden within 30 days. The Afghan Taliban government, however, did not bow to the ultimatum and invoked the right of hospitality .

On September 9, 2001, according to a previous Taliban, bin Laden had the main leader of the Afghan opposition to the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Massoud , murdered with the help of two suicide bombers.

ideology

Bin Laden took up the Islamic teachings of Dār al-Harb and Dār al-Islām . These two terms are not found in the Qur'an or in the hadith tradition . It was systematized as early as the 8th century under the caliph Hārūn ar-Raschīd . The Muslim Brother Azzam was bin Laden's immediate teacher. Sayyid Qutb made this teaching popular again in the Islamic world. The ultimate goal is the creation of an Islamic state . The means for this is jihad, which is understood as a struggle against unbelievers and thus as the most noble task, for which to die is the highest religious goal. Martial traditions, the glorification of death in the struggle for Islam, and a feeling of insecurity and mortification among many Muslims who feel neglected and exploited by the western world have favored its rise.

In connection with his ideology, bin Laden used classical tools of political agitation and played with the needs and unfulfilled wishes of his addressees. In particular, Bin Laden succeeded in combining religious with societal motives. So he repeatedly used a non-religious concept of honor that refers to the integrity of the (Arab) man and his task to protect his own reputation and that of the family. However, he linked this task with the call to fight for religious goals. For example, in an interview with Al Jazeera in December 2008, bin Laden urged Muslim men not to allow themselves to be “robbed of masculinity” by the West and to defend “the greatest sanctuary in the world” against the western invaders, the holy Kaaba . He also called on the “Muslim brothers” all over the world to stick together and to pass on the Islamic honor from father to son in the fight against the unbelievers, which is another typical mixture of familial-particulatory concepts with religiously motivated goals.

Episodes of September 11, 2001

Bin Laden is considered to be the initiator and planner of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States, which killed almost 3,000 people. Until the beginning of the US war against the Taliban regime, he denied his involvement in it. After that he admitted his leadership role more and more clearly.

persecution

On September 17, 2001, US President Bush declared that bin Laden was primarily responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, and that he must therefore be arrested “dead or alive”. On September 18, the UN Security Council called on the Taliban regime to bring bin Laden to American justice "immediately and unconditionally". The Taliban leader Mullah Omar refused on the grounds that bin Laden's guilt had not yet been proven and that he did not have enough freedom in Afghanistan to plan attacks.

In September 2001, the former made Mujahideen - commander Hai Zamon the offer, Osama bin Laden to the Federal Republic of Germany to extradite. The contact is said to have been sent to the Chancellery by Reinhard Erös , whom the commander met during the Soviet-Afghan war , via a journalist . A high-ranking employee of the BND and then a high- ranking officer are said to have met with him. After two weeks, Erös received the message by phone: "Your government doesn't like French perfume. Chanel Nº 5 [code word for Osama bin Laden] is too heavy for us, I was just told from Berlin. The war begins in five days. It will take a long time. Too bad your government could have prevented it. "

At the beginning of October 2001, the United States referred to intelligence information on bin Laden's authorship, but only disclosed a few details, including transfers of money between Sheikh Said, the alleged al-Qaeda chief financial officer, assassins and recorded phone calls in which supporters of bin Laden exchanged information about the attacks should. US troops began the war in Afghanistan on October 7th to crush al-Qaeda, hunt down bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban regime allied with him. Offers by the Taliban on October 14 to extradite bin Laden to a politically neutral country after presenting evidence, Bush rejected: "We know that he is guilty."

Bin Laden continued to be listed as a wanted terrorist worldwide since 1999. The FBI's profile referred to the charges against him for the 1998 embassy attacks and summarily named further terrorist attacks. In an explanation, the FBI announced that additional charges against bin Laden would be added to the profile as soon as the investigation required it, for example the 9/11 attacks. An FBI spokesman said 2006 that was intended for the domestic market The profile serves as a preliminary arrest warrant. All he has to do is name one charge that has already been made. If he is arrested, Bin Laden will also be charged with September 11th. The British government names bin Laden as proven to be responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, as does the US military tribunal indictment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2008. The US urged the Saudi Arabian government to also charge bin Laden with violent crimes.

After the conquest of Kabul in November 2001, bin Laden fled from the US troops from Kandahar into the cave system in the Tora-Bora massif. In the Battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, he managed to escape with the help of Afghan confidants who were also working for the coalition groups. This was confirmed by testimony in 2005 against US officials who had doubted Bin Laden's presence in Tora-Bora for years. The CIA official Cofer Black confirmed at the time that he had given CIA investigators an order to kill bin Laden in the fall of 2001.

On February 22, 2004, the British newspaper Sunday Express reported that Bin Laden and about fifty of his followers had been located and encircled in the mountainous northwest of Pakistan near the Afghan border. Military spokesmen for the US and Pakistan immediately denied this. On June 20, 2005, the then CIA chief Porter Goss stated that he knew Bin Laden's whereabouts. In order to get hold of it, one must consider “sanctuaries of sovereign nations”. It was suspected that he meant Pakistan, as another US ambassador had previously expressed himself accordingly. US President George W. Bush had the CIA special unit Alec Station, established in 1995 to search for and seize bin Laden, disbanded in late 2005.

During the search, various sources claimed that bin Laden was terminally ill or already deceased. The French newspaper Le Figaro reported at the end of October 2001 that he had undergone kidney treatment in Dubai in July 2001 and that he met a CIA officer. The clinic director in Dubai and Bin Laden denied this. Nevertheless, Pakistan's President Musharraf claimed in January 2002 that bin Laden had devices for dialysis treatment sent from Pakistan. Because of the suspected change of location of the fugitive, he could hardly use these dialysis machines in practice. It is therefore reasonable to assume that he died due to neglect of vital treatment. Some CIA officials confirmed, others denied the kidney disease in 2008. According to a report by the French secret service DGSE , which the newspaper L'Est Republicain reported on September 23, 2006, Saudi Arabian investigators should be convinced that bin Laden was involved in a strong one Typhoid infection died. This denied CIA director Michael V. Hayden and other representatives of the USA, Pakistan and France. According to his youngest widow, bin Laden was in perfect health until he was killed.

On July 13, 2007, the US Senate decided to double the FBI's reward for clues leading to the arrest or killing of Bin Laden from $ 25 million to as much as $ 50 million. He was responding to CIA reports that al-Qaeda had reorganized and started planning new attacks on the United States.

In 2008, US reporter Christiane Amanpour received information from US officials that bin Laden was hiding in a villa in Pakistan, not a cave. Bin Laden's hiding place was suspected between 2002 and 2010 in the Afghan-Pakistani border area of Wasiristan , in the Pakistani town of Parachinar , in the Afghan town of Ghazni and in the northern Pakistani district of Chitral .

In 2009, US President Obama asked the CIA to provide a detailed plan of operations to find and capture bin Laden.

According to statements by former Guantanamo prisoners published by Wikileaks in 2010, bin Laden from Tora-Bora fled to Jalalabad, from there to the Afghan province of Kunar , and then moved with his family to the Pakistani town of Khwar in early 2003. Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik immediately denied reports from October 2010 that he was staying in a comfortable apartment in north-western Pakistan .

financing

Bin Laden was supported by some members of his rich and extensive family until his death. This system appeared to work despite the reward, military operations, and financial dehydration attempts. The US tried to freeze its accounts. The Islamic Bank in Tirana is said to have received 60 percent of its share capital from Bin Laden. Osama and Yeslam bin Laden had a joint account at the Swiss bank UBS from 1990 to 1997 . The Bin Laden family, managed by Deutsche Bank's New York Private Banking group , had at least $ 142 million in assets through various offshore firms in various bank funds. The institute also administered an additional $ 172 million for the family. In 2000, 241 million euros are said to have flowed to the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan via Deutsche Bank.

Video and audio messages

On September 16, 2001, Al Jazeera sent a statement from Bin Laden: “I want to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks that people seem to have planned for personal reasons. I lived in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and followed its rules. The current leader does not allow me to carry out such operations. ”According to a British report, he spoke to a pro-Taliban Afghan press agency of an oath of oath that forbade him to“ do such things from Afghanistan ”.

On October 7, 2001, Al Jazeera broadcast a video stating, “God has blessed a group of leading Muslims, the vanguard of Islam, to destroy America. May God bless you and give you an excellent place in heaven ... "

According to unverified information from the Pakistani newspaper Ummat on October 16, 2001, bin Laden is said to have confirmed in response to a written request that he was not involved in and had no knowledge of the attacks on September 11th. Accordingly, he allegedly does not welcome the killing of innocent women, children and other people, since Islam strictly forbids it even during a battle. The Ummat newspaper received these alleged quotations in writing from representatives of the Taliban. These alleged statements by bin Laden contradict views previously held by him. For example, in 1998 he told ABC reporter John Miller that there was no distinction between military and civilians.

In a lengthy Al Jazeera interview broadcast on October 21, 2001, according to an English translation from 2002, Bin Laden admitted that he had instigated the “brave guys” who destroyed America's most famous economic and military landmarks to do so. If inciting to kill those who "kill our sons" is terrorism, let history testify "that we are all terrorists." When asked whether Islamic teachings forbid the killing of Christians, Jews and innocent civilians, he asked back whether Muslim civilians were not also innocent and why their killing of the millions was not condemned, persecuted and deplored as well. “We kill the kings of the unbelievers, the kings of the crusaders, and civil unbelievers in compensation for those who kill our children. That is allowed in law and intellect. ” Mohammed had restricted his prohibition to kill women and small children: if unbelievers did this on purpose, they would have to be stopped by similar retribution . The perpetrators of September 11th did not intend to kill children, but rather to destroy the strongest military and economic power in the world. The WTC was not a “children's school”.

An internal al-Qaeda video published by the US government in November 2001 contained statements by bin Laden about the planning of the attack and the expected consequences, which had been far exceeded. According to statements by some language experts, some passages are said to have been translated incomprehensibly or incorrectly. However, other independent translators said bin Laden named nine of the attackers and reminded them that shortly before the attacks, he asked his followers to pray as soon as they heard the news.

In a video broadcast by Al Jazeera on December 27, 2001, bin Laden explained the attacks as a legitimate response to allegedly US-led or supported attacks on Palestinians, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan and Kashmir . The aim is to weaken the US economy to such an extent that the US would withdraw from the aforementioned Islamic areas. He is only an instrument of God; whether he live or die, the war will go on.

A video broadcast by Al Jazeera on September 9, 2002 showed some of the 9/11 attackers in Afghan al-Qaeda training camps. Bin Laden's voice praised them as those who “changed the course of history”.

On November 12, 2002, Al Jazeera broadcast a tape on which Bin Laden's voice was Islamist attacks of 2002 in Djerba (April 11), Karachi (May 8, June 14, September 25), Yemen (October 6) , Failaka , Bali (October 12), Moscow (October 23) and others justified: They were merely reciprocal retaliation by Muslims in defense of Islam and reactions to acts of the US government in Iraq and Israel in Palestine to Arab leaders to force distance from this "criminal gang". The anti-terror war is a pretext for a war against Muslims, led by the "butchers of our age" like US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld , who killed more than two million people in the Vietnam War. He threatened: "You will be killed as you kill, and you will be bombed as you bomb."

On October 29, 2004, four days before the US presidential elections at that time, bin Laden addressed US voters and US President Bush directly in a video message sent by Al Jazeera without his other military clothing. He claimed to be the initiator of the 9/11 attacks and announced more:

“As I looked at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me that the tyrant must also be punished and that we should destroy towers in America so that he can learn what we have learned and be put off, our wives and children to kill."

On December 16, 2004, a tape published on the Internet dealt with the attack by an al-Qaeda group on the US consulate in Jeddah on December 6, 2004. He threatened the Saudi royal family with an armed uprising by their own subjects if the population were not allowed to freely decide on Muslim leadership.

In a tape broadcast on January 19, 2006, classified as genuine by the CIA, he threatened new attacks in the USA and at the same time offered them a ceasefire.

On May 23, 2006, bin Laden declared on a tape classified as genuine: Zacarias Moussaoui had no connection whatsoever to September 11, since he had confided the attacks to the 19 attackers himself, but had not assigned Moussaoui this mission.

On September 7, 2007, a new videotape showed Bin Laden as a still image with a black beard. In it he accused George W. Bush of repeating Leonid Brezhnev's mistakes in Afghanistan . He accused the US Democrats of failing to stop the Iraq war . To do this, Americans should convert to Islam. He also praised some of the assassins, above all Abu Mussab Walid al-Schehri. The tape is considered real, as Bin Laden was seen in the same clothes on another video that was classified as real a week earlier.

In November 2007, in a videotape broadcast on Al Jazeera, bin Laden stated that he was solely responsible for the deadly attacks on New York and Washington. That is why the US invasion of Afghanistan is unjust.

In March 2008 a tape was released with bin Laden's voice on which he attacked the European Union because of the Muhammad cartoons: This insult exceeded Western bombings of Muslims, making it harder to settle the accounts and making the verdict more resolute.

In a tape released in March 2009, Bin Laden called the Israeli bombing in Gaza the Holocaust and called on Muslims to overthrow the Arab regimes allied with the US and the “ Zionists ”.

In a video broadcast on January 25, 2010, bin Laden warned Obama of new attacks and praised the attempted assassination attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on December 24, 2009, through which he, bin Laden, had confirmed his message of September 11, 2001: America will never degenerate Can dream peace as long as “we in Palestine” did not experience it.

By the end of October 2004, 20 video and audio messages had appeared by Bin Laden, and by May 1, 2011 at least 31.

On May 19, 2011, al-Qaeda released a tape that bin Laden is believed to have recorded a week before his death. In it, he praised the revolutions in Arab states of 2011 and called on Muslims to overthrow their tyrants.

Reputation among Muslims

According to opinion polls by the Pew Research Center , bin Laden was well respected in many Islamic countries. When asked whether they placed their trust in him, 60% of the Muslims surveyed in Jordan in 2005 expressed a lot or some trust, in Pakistan 51%. In Indonesia it fell from 58% in 2003 to 35% in 2005, in Morocco from 49 to 26% in the same period. A representative survey in July 2009 showed that US President Barack Obama had become more popular than Bin Laden in the Arab world.

In the last PRC survey on bin Laden from 2010, it received 48% in Nigeria , 25% in Indonesia, 19% in Egypt , 18% in Pakistan, 14% in Jordan , only 3% in Turkey and none in Lebanon Trust among the Muslims surveyed.

death

The house in which Bin Laden was hiding in the northern Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the suburb of Bilal Town of the military garrison city of Abbottabad .

According to the US government, bin Laden was shot dead by special forces of the Navy Seals on the second floor of his property in Abbottabad in the early morning of May 2, 2011, Pakistani time . According to US reports, four other people were killed in the 40-minute military action ordered by US President Obama, including a son of bin Laden. Several people were injured and a total of 17 people were left handcuffed. According to the US government, bin Laden's identity was determined with a DNA analysis and his body was buried on May 2, 2011 in a secret location on board the US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea .

The US government corrected the first information that bin Laden was involved in the firefight a few days later: he was unarmed. However, an assault rifle and pistol were within range and he showed no signs of surrendering. He was then shot. The US approach has often been criticized internationally as an execution incompatible with international law and the rule of law . On May 4, 2011, the US government stated that the storming and killing had been carried out in full compliance with international martial law . Those involved could not have arrested Bin Laden alive because of the mortal danger.

Movies

  • Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? (2008) Morgan Spurlock
  • Myth and Truth. The Hunt for Osama bin Laden (2010)
  • On the hunt for Osama bin Laden (2010), documentation by N24
  • The Hunt for bin Laden - In the crosshairs of the secret services (2012), documentary by BBC
  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012), feature film by Kathryn Bigelow
  • Code Name: Geronimo (2012), TV movie directed by John Stockwell
  • Alexander Berkel: Osama bin Laden - the private papers of the Prince of Terror (2016), documentary by ZDF

literature

Texts bin Laden
Texts from relatives
  • Carmen bin Laden : Inside the Kingdom. My Life in Saudi Arabia. Warner Books, New York 2005, ISBN 0-446-69488-6 .
  • Omar bin Laden, Najwa bin Laden, Jean Sasson: Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World. St. Martin's Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-312-56016-4 .
Biographies
Single topics
  • Garang Akok, Thomas Lado, Melha Rout Biel: Terrorism in the name of Islam and the Horn of Africa. The forgotten conflict in Sudan and the role of Osama bin Laden. Tectum, Marburg 2002, ISBN 3-8288-8434-2 .
  • Peter L. Bergen : Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad . Crown Publishing / Random House, 2012, ISBN 978-0-307-95557-9 . German edition: The hunt for Osama Bin Laden. A story of disclosure . DVA, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-421-04551-5 .
  • Jean-Charles Brisard, Guillaume Dasquié: The Forbidden Truth. The US entanglement with Osama bin Laden. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2003, ISBN 3-499-61501-0 .
  • Steve Coll : Ghost Wars. The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Press, New York 2004, ISBN 1-59420-007-6 .
  • Steve Coll: The Bin Ladens. An Arab family. Translated from the English by Werner Roller, Violeta Topalova, Stephanie Singh. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-421-04354-2 .
  • Meg Greene: The Hunt for Osama bin Laden. Rosen Publishing Group, New York 2005, ISBN 1-4042-0279-X .
  • Roland Jacquard: The Osama bin Laden file. The secret dossier on the world's most wanted terrorist. List, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-471-79468-9 .
  • Thomas J. Moser: Politics on God's Path, On the Genesis and Transformation of Militant Sunni Islamism . IUP, Innsbruck 2012, pp. 121–141. ISBN 978-3-902811-67-7
  • Mark Owen (pseudonym; that is: Matt Bissonnette), Kevin Maurer: No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden. Penguin Dutton, New York 2012, ISBN 978-0-525-95372-2 .
Audio book
  • Peter Bergen : The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al-Qaeda's Leader. Kindle Edition / Audio CD, Audiobook, Free Press 2006 (English; book excerpt online )
satire
  • Bernd Zeller: A life for terror. The official autobiography of Osama bin Laden. Macchiato Verlag Antje Hellmann, 2007, ISBN 3-940721-01-8 .

Web links

Commons : Osama bin Laden  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lawrence Wright: Death Will Find You. Munich 2007, pp. 78-90.
  2. a b c d Terrorism.com: Transcript of 'Usamah Bin-Ladin, the Destruction of the Base' ( Memento of November 13, 2002 in the Internet Archive ), Interview with Jamal Isma'il, broadcast on June 10, 1999
  3. Peter Bergen : Holy War Inc. P. 65 f.
  4. a b Zvi Bar'el: Qaeda's Lebanese Hydra. September 12, 2002; Retrieved October 19, 2007
  5. Michael Slackman: Bin Laden's mother tried to stop him, Syrian kin say , in: Chicago Tribune , November 13, 2001.
  6. Lawrence Wright: Death Will Find You. Munich 2007, p. 91 f .; Randal: Osama , p. 55.
  7. ^ Profiles: Hamida al-Attas. Archived from the original on October 2, 2006 ; accessed on August 21, 2006 .
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