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Who is Osama Bin Laden?

ho is Osama Bin Laden?

The fugitive Osama Bin Laden, currently in news for his suspected role in the terror attack in World Trade Centre and FBI headquarters, is undoubtedly the most wanted man for the US. At the same time, he is a hero for many young people in the Arab world.

Born in Saudi Arabia to an wealthy Yemeni family engaged in construction business, Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia in 1979 to fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Afghan jihad was backed with American dollars and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Ironically, he received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian.

While in Afghanistan, he founded the Maktab al-Khidimat, which recruited fighters from around the world and imported arms and ammunitions to aid the Afghan resistance against the Soviet army.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the "Arab Afghans", as Bin Laden's faction came to be called, turned their fire against the US and its allies in the Middle East. Bin Laden, meanwhile, returned to Saudi Arabia to work in the family construction business, but was expelled in 1991 because of his anti-government activities there.

Bin Laden, now believed to be in his 40s, spent the next five years in Sudan until US pressure prompted the Sudanese government to expel him, whereupon Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan. Bin Laden, an immensely wealthy man, has been granted a safe haven by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement.

Experts say his power is founded on a personal fortune earned by his family's construction business in Saudi Arabia. During his time in hiding, he has called for a holy war against the US, and for the killing of Americans and Jews. Bin Laden is reported to be able to rally around him up to 3,000 fighters. He is also suspected of helping to set up Islamic training centres to prepare soldiers to fight in Chechnya and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

The US State Department describes him as "one of the most significant sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today". According to the US, Bin Laden was involved in at least three major attacks - the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1996 killing of 19 US soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa and this year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. In May this year, a US jury convicted four men believed to be linked with Bin Laden of plotting the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

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