bin Laden, Osama


bin Laden, Osama

biographical name

(born 1957, Riyadh, Saud.Ar.) Leader of a broad-based Islamic extremist movement implicated in numerous acts of terrorism against the U.S. and other Western countries. The son of a wealthy Saudi family, he joined the Muslim resistance in Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion of that country. Following his homecoming, he became enraged at the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War (1990–91) and, through a network of like-minded Islamic militants known as al-Qaeda, launched a series of terrorist attacks. These acts included the bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the U.S. warship Cole in Aden, Yemen, in 2000. A self-styled Islamic scholar, bin Laden issued several legal opinions calling on Muslims to take up jihad (holy war) against the U.S., and in 2001 a group of militants under his direction launched the September 11 attacks, which led to the deaths of some 3,000 people. The U.S. thereafter demanded bin Laden's extradition from Afghanistan, where he was sheltered by that country's Taliban militia, and launched attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda forces when that ultimatum was not met. With the collapse of the Taliban, bin Laden and his associates went into hiding.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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