Osama bin Laden - The World's Prime Terrorist Leader


Osama bin Laden was the founder of the terrorist organization al Qaeda. He was made responsible for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 and for bomb attacks in many places around the world. Bin Laden was once a citizen of Saudi Arabia but criticized the Arab country for being America’s ally. Bin Laden was America’s most wanted person and has been a major target of the USA’s war on terror.
On May 1, 2011 President Obama declared that United States forces had killed bin Laden in a villa in Pakistan.


Childhood and education

Osama bin Laden came from a wealthy Saudi Arabian family. His father was a well-respected businessman. After school he studied economics and business administration at the university but it is not clear whether he earned an academic degree or not. Bin Laden married his first wife at the age of 17. Together with his other three wives he is said to have up to 25 children.


Beliefs and ideology

From his youth on Osama bin Laden was always interested in religion. He was against all western systems and ideologies and said that living by the Sharia law was the only form of Islam. He sympathised with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan because they had a very conservative and radical view of Islam.

Bin Laden not only threatened America because they had gotten involved in the Islamic world but also was truly anti-Semitic. On many occasions he stressed the need to eliminate Israel and give Palestine back to the Arabs.


Mujahedeen in Afghanistan

During the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s bin Laden joined the Mujahedeen. During this period the United States supported the freedom fighters and gave them financial aid to help defeat the Soviets. Bin Laden helped with the money he had inherited from his Saudi family.


Mujahedeen in Afghanistan

Mujahedeen in Afghanistan - Erwin Franzen 


Formation of Al Qaeda

Although nobody knows exactly when al Qaeda came to life it is thought that the group was founded as an Islamic faction in 1988. He recruited mostly Mujahedeen fighters as members of the group.

In the 1990s bin Laden criticised his home country Saudi Arabia for letting American soldiers on Islamic soil. The Saudis had agreed to accept American help in order to fight against Saddam Hussein. For bin Laden, being dependent on the western world was unacceptable.

After being expelled from Saudi Arabia he lived in exile in Sudan for a few years and during the mid 1990s went back to Afghanistan. With the help of the new Taliban regime bin Laden raised money and created new training camps for Mujahedeen fighters.


Al Qaeda bombings

Terrorist activities by Al Qaeda started in the 1990s. Bin Laden funded most of them including attacks in Luxor, Egypt killing 60 people and the bombing of the American embassy in Nairobi killing over two hundred.

Towards the end of the millennium it was clear that al Qaeda was the major terrorist threat in the world. Bin Laden officially declared America the enemy of the Jihad and called for all Muslims to join in a holy war against the west.


9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre

9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre - Robert


After 9/11


After the terrorist attacks on America in September 2001 it took the FBI and the CIA only weeks to find out that bin Laden was responsible. In October 2001 the United States launched attacks on Afghanistan and al Qaeda training camps. Although they deposed of the Taliban regime they failed in capturing bin Laden, who was probably hiding in a cave complex in the Afghan mountains.

When Barack Obama became president in 2008 he announced that the United States would be sending more troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to destroy al Qaeda strongholds. He also made it clear that the United States was putting effort into finding bin Laden, who was still at large. He was also seeking help from the Pakistani government because bin Laden might be hiding neighbouring Pakistan.


Death of bin Laden

On May 1, 2011 a team of American Special Forces attacked a mansion near Pakistan’s military academy about a hundred kilometres north of Islamabad. Bin Laden and three other people, including one of his sons, were killed. The Americans took possession of his body and dumped it into the Arabian Sea. After the announcement of bin Laden’s death hundreds of thousands of people all over the world celebrated.


Related Topics



  • accept = take on
  • activity = action
  • agree = to say yes
  • aid = help, support
  • ally = friend
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially
  • announcement =official message for the people
  • anti-Semitic = someone who hates Jewish people
  • at large = to be free
  • attack = to use weapons against an enemy
  • attempt = try
  • business administration = how to organize and lead companies
  • capture = to take a person prisoner
  • cave = a natural hole in a mountain
  • celebrate = to be happy and have a party
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • declare = to say officially, speak out
  • defeat = to win against in a war
  • degree = a qualification that you get when you have finished college or the university
  • dependent on = to need something very much
  • depose = to get rid of
  • dump = throw
  • earn = get
  • economics = the study of the way in which money and goods are produced
  • effort = attempt, try
  • eliminate = destroy
  • embassy = a group of people who work for the government of their country in another country, or the building they work in
  • exile = a situation in which you must leave your country and live somewhere else
  • expel = to send away
  • faction = group, party
  • fail = not succeed
  • founder = person who starts something new
  • fund = to pay for something
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • inherit =to get money from your family after they have died
  • invasion = to march into a country with soldiers and take control
  • involve = engage , be a part of
  • it is thought = people think that
  • Jihad = holy war fought by Muslims
  • launch = start
  • major = very important
  • mansion = very large house
  • military academy = a college or school where young men are trained to become officers
  • millennium = a thousand years
  • Mujahedeen = Muslim soldiers with strong religious beliefs
  • occasion = event, time
  • occupation = to keep control of a country by force
  • officially = to say something so that many people can hear it
  • possession = ownership, control
  • raise = collect
  • recruit = to get people to become a member
  • regime = a government that is not elected and very often does not have the support of the people
  • responsible = in control of, to give orders to
  • seek = look for, want
  • Sharia law = system of religious rules followed by Muslims
  • soil = ground, place
  • Special Forces = soldiers who have been trained to fight against terrorists
  • stress = to point out a statement or idea
  • stronghold = a place where a group defends itself
  • support = help
  • sympathise = understand, support, like
  • threat = danger
  • threaten = warn , terrorize
  • towards = near
  • unacceptable = it is wrong
  • view = attitude , feeling
  • wealthy = rich
  • well-respected = admired and liked by many people because of the good things you have done