Usâmah bin Muhammad bin 'Awad bin Lâdin was born on March 10, 1957. He is an Islamic fundamentalist, a founder of the al-Qaeda organization and a member of the immensely rich bin Laden family.
There is evidence linking bin Laden and al-Qaeda to several attacks worldwide, the most destructive of which was the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., which killed at least 2,985 people. In addition to the attacks, several armed Islamist revivalist movements around the globe have been connected to al-Qaeda.
According to an audio tape released after bin Laden's September 11 attacks, bin Laden's main grievances against the West and especially the United States, include support for the State of Israel, United States support for several dictatorial regimes in the Middle East that Bin Laden opposes for reasons aside from political structure, and the presence of United States military bases in Saudi Arabia, where the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located. The U.S. withdrew from these bases in 2003, stating that they were no longer necessary for their campaign in Iraq.
The United States Department of State is offering a reward of US$25 million for information leading to bin Laden's capture. An additional reward of $2 million is being offered by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association. While bin Laden's current whereabouts are unknown, the most popular assumption is that he is hiding in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, or, more specifically, near the small Pakistani market town of Chitral 2
. If bin Laden is in Pakistan, it is possible that he benefits from local support by the Waziri. With the inhospitable mountainous terrain and uncertainty about the cooperation of Pakistani intelligence, the United States faces many difficulties in pursuing his capture, despite a wide array of sophisticated eavesdropping sensors deployed in the region 4
Twice newspapers have reported his death. The first report in December 2001 was quickly disproven when bin Laden issued a videotape. The second report that bin Laden died in June 2005 was published in a Pakistani newspaper and although it has not been conclusively confirmed or refuted, few Western publications decided the news was worth reporting. 5
In January 2006, audiotapes purportedly from bin Laden were aired on all popular news media (audio 6
, transcript 7
). The authenticity of these tapes, while still disputed, has been confirmed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
Bin Laden continues to hold support and loyalty from much of the Muslim world. The West, particularly the United States, persistently sees him as the leader of a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of the the West and the creation of a fundamentalist pan-Islamic caliphate.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan resulted in a call to arms by religious leaders all over the Muslim world to liberate the country from pro-Soviet rule. Osama bin laden eagerly sent money, supplies, and weapons to the mujahideen in Afghanistan.