A detailed guide to the life and times of al Qaeda financier and puppetmaster Osama bin Laden.
12:01 AM, Oct 10, 2001
• By BO CRADER
July 30: Born
in Riyadh to Yemeni bricklayer cum construction magnate Mohammed bin Laden
and his fourth wife, reported variously as a Syrian or Palestinian woman.1
He is the 17 th
Mohammed's reported 52 children and the only child of his mother. 2
between $20 million and $80 million when his father perishes in a plane crash.
Reports that his inheritance was between $200 and $300 million are generally
viewed as inaccurate.
at King Abdel Aziz University in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
is largely believed to study civil engineering, although some sources cite
his field of study as economics, business administration, or management.
Of particular interest
to bin Laden are courses in Middle East politics under Sheikh Abdullah
Azzam, a former PLO operative.
a former barber, report that bin Laden was a "spoiled brat" and party
animal, drinking heavily, gambling, and entertaining a penchant for belly
dancers and bar brawls. 7
The Soviet Union invades
Afghanistan. Bin Laden graduates from college and moves to Afghanistan to
aid the mujahedeen against Soviet forces, using his considerable means and
family's construction empire to deliver food, ammunition, weapons, and
medical supplies to the guerrillas.
He also builds a number
of training camps, housing facilities, and logistical networks. The organization
he establishes for the undertaking of these operations is known as Maktab
al Khadimat (MAK) 9 which
serves as a global recruiting network for the Muslim forces. 10
infrastructure later grows into the organization now known as al Qaeda
(Arabic for "military base").
group provides materiel and training to the guerrillas, as well as recruits new members and encourages
like-minded groups. 12
Al Qaeda will reportedly
train over 5,000 militants in the coming years. 13
of those trained are "sleepers," operatives blending in with their environs
in host countries until ordered to strike.
to Saudi Arabia after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Bin Laden harshly
criticizes what he views as the ruling family's pro-Western politics. 14
the Saudi ruling family for employing Western troops to fight Saddam Hussein
in lieu of Saudi troops. Bin Laden considers the presence of Western troops in the
same country as Mecca and Medina a desecration of sacred land. 15
Moves to Sudan and expands his financial network to include an Islamic bank,
a construction company, investment organizations, an agricultural business, and
during the early 1990s he founds the London-based PR organization the Advisory
and Reform Committee, distributing propaganda against the Saudi regime's
pro-Western inclinations. 17 Such
assets are suspected of funding and providing logistical support for al
Bin Laden reports
a number of assassination attempts against him while in Sudan. 18
February 26: World Trade
Center is bombed, killing 6 and injuring more than 1,000. 19
The mastermind of the bombings, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef,
is later linked to the al Qaeda network. 20
October 3-4: Operatives
of al Qaeda take part in an attack on U.S. miltary personnel on a humanitarian
mission in Somalia. 18 Americans are killed.21
Bin Laden's Saudi
citizenship is revoked. 22
Bin Laden's family
allegedly disavows Osama, although some of his brothers have reportedly
maintained contact with him. 23
Plots to assassinate
the pope during his visit to the Philippines and to bomb the Israeli and
American embassies in Manila are traced back to al Qaeda
through Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade
Center bombing. 24
Plots to assassinate
President Clinton during his visit to the Philippines and to bomb U.S. transpacific
flights are also traced back to al Qaeda through Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. 25