Almost four months before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11, attacks, the world learned last night from President Barack Obama that Osama Bin Laden had been hunted down and killed, not in the hills of Afghanistan, but in a luxurious compound, just north of the Pakistani capital by special U.S. forces.
It took nearly a decade, but Americans finally achieved the revenge it so desperately wanted; which is to one day learn their government at long last ended the life of arguably the most malicious and vile criminal to walk the face of the earth.
In order to summarize the rise and fall of Bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda, I compiled a brief timeline of his life and career.
Osama Bin Laden Timeline
Born July, 1957, the 17th of 20 sons of a Saudi construction magnate of Yemeni origin.
Educated at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he attended lectures given by Muhammad Qutb, brother of Sayyid Qutb, the key ideologue of a major Sunni Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bin Laden reportedly first stepped foot in Afghanistan, just a few years after the Soviet invasion in 1979.
1984: Bin Laden and Abdullah al Azzam, establish a network of recruiting and fund-raising offices in the Arab world, Europe, and the United States, calling itself Maktab al Khidamat (Services Office) or Al Khifah, which many consider the forerunner of Al Qaeda
NOTE: Azzam is believed by many to be the intellectual architect of the jihad against the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later of Al Qaeda.
1986: Bin Laden permanently relocated to areas of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, where he made occasional forays across the border into Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war, including a battle in Jalalabad.
NOTE: Although Bin Laden’s network was a de facto ally of the United States against the Soviet Union, U.S. officials deny they provided any monetary assistance to Al Qaeda.
1988: Azzam and Bin Laden begin to refer to their organization as ``Al Qaeda’’, an Arabic word meaning ``base of operation’’ or`` foundation’’ that would now operate as an Islamic “rapid reaction force’’ to provide assistance to any Muslims being threatened. At this time, U.S. intelligence estimate the size of that network to be between 10,000 and 20,000, but not all of these members supported or participated in terrorist activities.
November, 1989: Bin Laden assumes control of Maktab’s funds and organizational mechanisms after the assassination of Azzam, which many believe was masterminded by Bin Laden himself to avenge his power struggle with Azzam.
1989: After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia, where he worked on forming a “mujahedin” army to oust Iraq from Kuwait. This lobbying effort was sharply rebuffed by the Saudi leadership.
1991: Unable to mend his rift with the Saudi leadership, Bin Laden relocates to Sudan, where he bought property with the intention of using it as training ground to train Al Qaeda militants—against the United States as well as for jihad (Holy War) operations in the Balkans, Chechnya, Kashmir, and the Philippines.
1992: Al Qaeda bombs a hotel in Yemen ,where 100 U.S. military personnel were awaiting deployment to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. No one was killed.
Feb, 1993: The World Trade Center in New York is bombed. The principal bomb maker, Ramzi Ahmad Yusuf, suggests Al Qaeda played a leading role.
October, 1993: Al Qaeda arms Somali factions battling U.S. forces, killing 18 U.S. special operations forces in Mogadishu.
November, 1995: U.S. military advisory facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is bombed, claiming the lives of five Americans. The four Saudi nationals, who masterminded the plot, claim they were inspired by Bin Laden and other radical Islamist leaders.
May, 1996; Under pressure from the U.S. and Egyptian governments, Bin Laden is expelled from the Sudan. He returns to Afghanistan, where he helped the Taliban gain control of Afghanistan. The Taliban captured Kabul in September, 1996. Bin Laden additionally issues a fatwa against Zionists and Crusaders.
June, 1996: Al Qaeda played a hand in the bombing of the Khobar Towers complex near Dhahran in which 19 U.S airmen were killed, according to a September 11 Commission report.
February 22, 1998: Bin Laden issues a ``Declaration of War’’ against the United States and a fatwa on behalf on the World Islamic Front, calling on Muslims to kill Americans ``whenever and wherever possible.’’
August, 1998: Al Qaeda is thought to be responsible for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed about 300. During the same month, the U.S. launched a cruise missile strike against bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan, but miss him by just a few hours.
December, 1998: CIA Director George Tenet issues a ``declaration of war’’ against Al Qaeda in a memo distributed within the intelligence community.
1999: The FBI creates a special unit devoted specifically to Bin Laden.
June 7, 1999: The FBI places Bin Laden on its ``10 Most Wanted List’’
October, 1999: The UN Security Council imposes a number of sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, including the freezing of funds and restricting travel of the groups’ members.
December, 1999: An Al Qaeda plot at the Los Angeles International Airport is reportedly blocked by U.S. officials.
October, 2000: Al Qaeda activists orchestrate a ship-borne suicide attack on the U.S.S. Cole while it was docked at the harbor of Aden, Yemen. In addition to the ship being severely damaged, 17 sailors were killed.
December, 2000: President-elect George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice are briefed on Al Qaeda and their covert operations in Afghanistan.
December 20. 2000: Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism czar, announces a plan to ``roll back’’ Al Qaeda over three to five years until it is deemed ineffectual, which includes covert aid to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
September 11, 2001: Al Qaeda terrorists hijack four U.S. planes, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, a third into the Pentagon Building in Arlington, Va. Passengers struggled with hijackers in the fourth plane before it crash lands into a field in Pennsylvania. All told, the attacks killed 2,998 people, by far the worst attack on U.S soil.
October 7, 2001: The United State launches ``Operation Enduring Freedom’’, which calls for air strikes in Afghanistan against Taliban and al Qaeda forces.
March 2-19. 2002: U.S. and Afghan forces launch: ``Operation Anaconda” in the Shah-i-Kot Valley, south of Gardez (Paktia Province) against 800 al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
March, 2003: ``Operation Valiant Strike’’ is carried out when 1,000 U.S forces raid suspected Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters in villages around Qandahar in the southern region of Afghanistan.
May 1, 2003: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announces an end to major combat in Afghanistan.
March 11, 2004: An Al Qaeda affiliate bombs commuter trains in Madrid., Spain, killing 190 people while wounding more than 600 others.
July 7, 2005: Terrorists detonate backpack bombs in a London transit system, killing 52 people and wounding more than 770 others.
2006: British authorities thwart an Al Qaeda attempt to blow up planes over the Atlantic, arresting 26 suspected terrorist.
2007: Al Qaeda scheme to bomb some London nightclubs fails, when the crudely made bombs fail to detonate.
January, 2008: An airstrike near Damadola, a village in Pakistan, approximately five miles from the Afghan border, kills Abu Laith al-Libi, believed to be a senior al-Qaeda operative.
November, 2008: Laskari ``i`, Taiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization trained by Al Qaeda attacks hotels and restaurants in Mumbai India.
February, 2009: Some independent U.S. scientists, using geographic mapping, speculate bin Laden might be residing across the border from his former Afghan stronghold at Tora Bora.
May 1, 2011: Just a little before midnight, President Obama announces to a nationwide television audience that Osama Bin Laden is dead, nearly a decade after masterminding the September 11th attacks on American soil. Bin Laden was killed by American operatives after being shot in the head, three other men living with Bin Laden were also killed in an Abbottabad compound, just north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
May 2, 2011
Source: Congressional Research Service, ``Osama Bin Laden: A Biography’’ By Thomas R. Mockatis, `The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11'' By Paul Thompson