BIN LADEN, OSAMA (1957- ) Osama bin Laden, a member of the immensely wealthy bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia, came to the attention of the world’s intelligence community in the late 1970s after he had begun to establish industries in Sudan to manufacture materials that could be used by the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, bin Laden is said to have involved himself with the groups that opposed the Oslo Peace Accord concerning the Israeli-occupied West Bank Under pressure from the United States, the Sudanese expelled bin Laden, and in 1996 he moved to Khowst, a small town close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border From this hideout, bin Laden began operations against the United States and the countries he accused of supporting the “American campaign against Islam” The Taliban forces in Afghanistan received support from bin Laden as they consolidated their hold on the country On 7 August 1998, terrorist bombs in Tanzania and Kenya exploded near the United States’ embassies, claiming nearly 300 lives, including 12 Americans On the same day, the authorities in Pakistan arrested Muhammad Siddique Odeh, an alleged associate of bin Laden During his interrogation, Odeh linked the embassy attacks to a group operating out of Afghanistan and headed by bin Laden On 17 August, the United States ordered hundreds of its citizens to leave Pakistan On 20 August, the United States launched air attacks on the camp that housed bin Laden

The United States linked bin Laden not only to the embassy bombings in East Africa but also to the activities of people such as Ramzi Youssef The cruise missiles used by the United States in the attack on the bin Laden camp in Khowst flew over Pakistani airspace, prompting Pakistan to lodge a protest with the United Nations However, bin Laden escaped unhurt From his various hideouts in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden continued to plan terrorist attacks on the United States On 11 September 2001, 19 young men, mostly from Saudi Arabia but led by the Egyptian Muhammad Atta, carried out simultaneous attacks on New York and Washington Two planes hijacked by the terrorists rammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York; the third hit the Pentagon, near Washington, DC; and the fourth, possibly headed toward the White House or the US capitol building, was forced by the passengers to crash in a field in Pennsylvania After winning Pakistan’s support and the support of those Central Asian countries neighboring landlocked Afghanistan, the United States retaliated against the terrorist attacks by launching a military campaign against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda

The military operation began on 8 October 2001 and ended with the fall of Kabul 13 December However, bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban administration, managed to escape and have eluded capture despite an extensive manhunt As of May 2006 he was still at large and is believed to be hiding in the rugged mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

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