Terrorism's War with America: A History

By Dennis Piszkiewicz | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden’s background emerges from a fog of vague and oftencontradictory tales, and the details should be taken with a small helping of skepticism. The following, however, is a commonly accepted and reasonable approximation of the man’s background—until a better story comes along. He was born into uncertainty, if not conflict, sometime in the mid-1950s in Saudi Arabia. His father, Mohammed bin Laden, had in his life-time put together Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction company, making him and his family prodigiously wealthy. Osama bin Laden was born to one of the last of Mohammed bin Laden’s many wives, and he had about fifty siblings. His father died in 1967, leaving Osama independently wealthy.

There are stories that in his late teens, Osama bin Laden lived the life of a playboy in London or Beirut. A more credible story has him attending King Abdul Aziz University, in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, where his belief in Islam became focused into commitment to a radical interpretation of jihad, holy war against the infidels, that would bring the world under the rule of ancient Islamic principles.

The Soviet Union gave Osama bin Laden his chance to be a part of the movement by invading Afghanistan in December 1979. Bin Laden joined the Afghan rebels, and at first he used his expertise in the construction industry and his organizational skills to help refugees who had escaped to Pakistan. By 1986, he had made the personal transition from logistical support to combat. According to various reports, he and the Arab unit he led were remarkably brave in the face of the better-equipped enemy. 1

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Terrorism's War with America: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - Skyjackers 1
  • Chapter 2 - Who Are the Terrorists? 9
  • Chapter 3 - Nationalists, Communists, and Insurgents 15
  • Chapter 4 - The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 21
  • Chapter 5 - The Holy War 37
  • Chapter 6 - Reagan Takes on Terrorism 43
  • Chapter 7 - Muammar Qaddafi 61
  • Chapter 8 - Saddam Hussein 71
  • Chapter 9 - The Blind Sheikh and the Mastermind of Terror 83
  • Chapter 10 - America in Retreat 99
  • Chapter 11 - Osama Bin Laden 107
  • Chapter 12 - Al Qaeda’s War 113
  • Chapter 13 - The Past and the Future 127
  • Epilogue 137
  • Appendix 1 141
  • Appendix 2 145
  • Appendix 3 147
  • Appendix 4 165
  • Selected Bibliography 191
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 203
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