The Path of Evil: A Decade of Fear

Newsweek, May 16, 2011 | Go to article overview
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The Path of Evil: A Decade of Fear


Osama bin Laden's death marks the end of a long, brutal career in senseless jihad. The CEO of modern terrorism, bin Laden left his studies at King Abdulaziz University in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and fought alongside the mujahedin resistance, using some of the estimated $80 million he inherited from his father to buy weapons and finance training camps. When the U.S.S.R. agreed to withdraw in 1988, bin Laden, now a hero among young Afghans, founded Al Qaeda to carry on a global war on so-called infidels. It was a relatively small network of terrorists, but thanks to bin Laden's cunning and entrepreneurial drive, it would go on to have a devastating record of success in terrorizing the West and its allies. Here is a selective chronology of the mayhem.

AL Qaeda's deadly Timeline

Yemen 1992

Al Qaeda's first bomb struck the Gold Mihor Hotel in Aden, where U.S. troops had recently been housed. The soldiers were gone by the time of the blast, but the attack did kill two Austrian tourists.

New York 1993

Six people died when Ramzi Yousef, a young radical, drove a van loaded with explosives into the garage of the World Trade Center. Yousef was affiliated with the notorious blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who had received financial support from Osama bin Laden.

Somalia 1993

Bin Laden took credit for training and arming fighters responsible for killing American soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia, where two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenades. Despite a successful mission to recover the soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, more than 20 U.S. and U.N. troops were killed. Years later, bin Laden told a Western reporter that his men were "shocked" by the low morale of U.S. troops: "The American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt his Army."

Egypt 1997

Bin Laden is believed to have financed the massacre at Luxor, where 58 tourists, including a 5-year-old and several honeymooners, were killed in a barrage of gunfire and hacked up with butcher knives at an archeological site.

East Africa 1998

Shortly after bin Laden issued a public fatwa against North Americans and their allies, suicide bombers attacked U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 200 and injuring thousands. This marked bin Laden's first major success in taking American lives, and it landed him on the FBI's most-wanted list.

USS Cole 2000

In October, suicide bombers sailed a small boat up alongside a Navy warship as it refueled in Yemen and detonated several explosives, killing 17 American sailors and causing serious damage to the ship. The incident was an international embarrassment for the Navy, and it highlighted the effectiveness of bin Laden's scary brand of guerrilla jihad.

United States 2001

By far bin Laden's most infamous plot--and the one that would eventually lead to his demise--the September 11 hijackings resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon,and on a fourth plane brought down in Pennsylvania by brave passengers. Bin Laden would later brag that the death toll was even greater than he had hoped.

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