Osama bin Laden was born in year 1377 of the Hegira (1957). In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he was one of 50 children born to Mohammad bin Laden and one of his various wives. As well as being one of fifty children, Osama was raised in the company of about fifty cousins, his uncle's children, and a couple aunts as well. The large family was also wealthy and Osama received a traditional education, finishing his secondary education at Jedda high school in 1973. He soon married his first wife and enrolled at King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda. There he received a degree in management and economics and was, more importantly, influenced by one of his professors, Sheik Abdullah Azzam. Being a devout Muslim, Azzam was dedicated to the task of liberating Islamic lands from foreign influences, and reintroducing the strict tenets of the faith to young Muslims. Osama's belief in the faith and thought of these missions was increased when he worked with his family's firm to rebuild several mosques of Medina and Mecca. His version of Islam grew more extreme and militant than Azzam's, which revealed horrifying atrocities to people around the world.
In 1972, bin Laden's father, Sheikh Mohammed, died. The man, being the owner of a largely prestigious business known as the Bin Laden Corporation, left his company to his sons with each son getting a share of the wealth. Several of the sons distanced themselves or gave up their portions of the company, eventually allowing Osama to gain in a high position with the corporation. On December 26, 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Osama answered the call of jihad (holy war) against the power that had attacked their brethren in Afghanistan. With the resources of his family's company, bin Laden financed and organized an active opposition to the Soviet Union. He bought arms, established training camps, dug trenches for the war effort, and provided food and medical care. Being a member of the Afghan resistance, also known as the mujahedeen, bin Laden fought in several battles. He was praised for his efforts as a notorious enemy of the USSR. During the Cold War, the United States indirectly backed the Afghani mujahedeen in their resistance against the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia granted the USA a presence in Saudi Arabia, which Osama greatly despised, claiming it went against his belief in Muslim independence.
Bin Laden did many other things with the money from his company. With his inheritance, estimated at $250 million, Osama moved to Sudan and invested heavily in the country. He established legitimate businesses, and began expanding al-Qaeda, the network of veterans of the mujahedeen and other Islamic militants that he founded during the end of the Afghan-Soviet conflict. In expanding the network, bin Laden built numerous terrorist camps for the purpose of training and equipping terrorists. This influenced unofficial state sponsored Islamic attacks in the Darfur region of the Sudan against Christians and Animists.
Osama funded terrorists as an interpretation of his Islamic faith. According to the Koran, a Muslim follows the pattern set by Mohammad in advancing Islam through military force. The foreign influences brought by the United States in Islamic territory often changed the perceptions of freedom and religion. In devotedly emphasizing these threats to Islam, Osama gained the respect and loyalty of innumerable Muslims throughout his life, and continuing in martyrdom.
Bin Laden's movement had linked him to extensive terrorist activity by the mid 1990's, including the World Trade Center bombings in 1993. The next year, Saudi revoked his citizenship and froze his assets, causing his family to disown him. In 1998, bin Laden called for the death of all Americans. On August 7 of that same year, two truck bombs exploded outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (killing a total of 224 people and injuring around 4,585). Bin Laden denied taking part in these actions, but due to other evidence prosecutors say that he was guilty. Osama has also been linked to a failed plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve of 1999, as well as the suicide bombing attack on the U.S.S. Cole on October 27, 2000 which killed 17 naval personnel. However horrifying these events were, they do not compare to September 11 when the hijacked flights flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which was another of bin Laden's acts. The estimated death toll of that horrible day surmounted 4,000 people. Millions of Muslims sympathized with the suicide bombers who destroyed crowded transportation systems in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), as subsequent polls showed 10% of Muslims living in England justifying the terrorists.
Because of his devotion to the strict rules of Islam, Osama bin Laden set out to kill for Allah, assuring his entrance to Paradise. No one will ever know the exact number of his followers. Fortunately, the Taliban which tried to protect him, are diminishing. Governments around the globe, except for Hamas, were relieved by his death. Yet all agreed that killing Osama bin Laden did not stop terrorism.
~American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us by Steven Emerson-Chapter 7; published by The Free Press in New York, New York; copyright 2002
~In The Name of Osama Bin Laden by Roland Jacquard-selected reading, mostly chapter 1; published by Duke University Press; copyright 2002
~Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America by Yossef Bodansky-selected reading; published by Prima Publishing in Rocklin, California; copyright 1999
~www.biography.com -search Osama bin Laden.