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Osama bin Laden was born sometime around 1957 or 1958, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Osama was the 17th of 52 children born to Mohammed bin Laden. Mohammed bin Laden owned the largest construction company in the Saudi kingdom. When Osama was young he had a privileged, cosseted upbringing. He stayed close to home, went to school in Jiddah, married young, and joined the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.Islam shaped all of Osama’s political beliefs and influenced every decision he made. While in college, he became a follower of the pan-Islamist scholar Abdullah Azzam, who believed that all Muslims should rise up in jihad, or holy war, to create a single Islamic state. From History.com, “This idea appealed to the young bin Laden, who resented what he saw as a growing Western influence on Middle Eastern life.”
In 1988, Osama bin Laden created a group called al-Qaida that would focus on symbolic acts of terrorism instead of military campaigns. Al-Qaida struck for the first time: A bomb exploded in a hotel in Aden, Yemen, that had housed American troops on their way to a peacekeeping mission in Somalia. They were also involved in the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center; the attempted assassination of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek in 1995; the bombing of a U.S. National Guard training center in Riyadh; and the truck bomb that destroyed the Khobar Towers. The scale of al-Qaida’s attacks continued to increase. From History.com, “On August 7, 1998, bombs exploded simultaneously at the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, where 213 people were killed and 4,500 were injured, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where 11 people were killed and 85 were injured.”
On September 11, 2001, 19 al-Qaida terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four early-morning flights bound for California. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes, turning ordinary passenger jets into guided missiles. At 8:45 a.m., an American Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. 18 Minutes later, a United Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the second tower near the 60th floor. The massive collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and streets below.
At 9:45 a.m., a second plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters. The fuel caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. A fourth California-bound plane was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The passengers attacked the hijackers and caused the plane to crash in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All of the passengers on the plane died, and the intended target is not known. Theories of the target include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat, or one of the several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.All of the attacks made Osama Bin Laden a huge public enemy. The hunt to find him became much more important. In 2007 U.S. Intelligence uncovered the name of one of Osama’s most trusted couriers.
In August 2009, U.S. Intelligence identified the area of Pakistan were the courier and his brother live. The CIA informe President Barack Obama that bin Laden may be living in the compound. They based this off the size and price of the home, as well as the large amount of security. The intelligence on the Abbotadad compound is later considered strong enough to begin planning action. The Navy Seals were tasked with the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. From the book, Defending the Nation-Special Forces, “The SEALS are the U.S. Navy’s elite special operations force.” They are trained to fight virtually anywhere. Their missions often include fighting terrorism. The raid began around 1 a.m. local time, when 23 Navy SEALS descended on the Abbotadad compound in two Black Hawk Helicopters. From History.com, “One of the helicopters crash-landed into the compound but no one aboard was hurt.” The raid lasted approximately 40 minutes. Five people, including bin Laden and one of his adult sons, were killed by U.S. gunfire that morning. No SEALS were injured during the raid.
Afterward, bin Laden’s body was flown to Afghanistan to be identified, and then it was buried at an undisclosed location in the Arabian Sea. This occurred less than 24 hours after his death, in accordance with Islamic practice. Based on computer files and other evidence collected during the raid, it was later determined that bin Laden was making plans to assassinate President Obama and carry out a series of additional attacks against America. President Obama watched the raid in real time via drone. Just after 11:30 EST on May 1, President Obama made a televised address confirming Osama bin Laden’s death. Large cheering crowds gathered outside the White House, New York City’s Times Square, and the Ground Zero site after hearing the news. Everybody felt a little safer that day. The most important step of bringing down al-Qaida was complete.
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