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Osama bin Laden is a terrorist extremist who planned the attacks on the World Trade Center and is intent on driving Western influence from the Muslim world.
Osama bin Laden transformed from a wealthy Saudi to the leader of a powerful underground army of terrorists.
Though Americans consider the September 11 attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden to be one of the most tragic days in history, radical Islamists view it as a victory against an oppressive foe.
Born in Honolulu, Barack Obama went on to become President of the Harvard Law Review. In 2008, he was elected President of the United States, becoming the first African-American commander-in-chief.
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Using parables with often-violent endings, their teacher explained that the most loyal observers of Islam would institute the holy word—even if it meant supporting death and destruction. By the second year of their studies,
Osama and his friends had openly adopted the attitude and styles of teen Islamic activists. They preached the importance of instituting a pure Islamic law at Al Thagher; grew untrimmed beards; and wore shorter pants and wrinkled shirts in imitation of the Prophet's dress.
Osama was pushed to grow up rather quickly during his time at Al Thagher. At the age of 18 he married his first cousin, 14-year-old Najwa Ghanem, who had been promised to him. Osama graduated from Al Thager in 1976, the same year his first child, a son named Abdullah, was born. He then headed to King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where some say he received a degree in public administration in 1981. Others claim he received a degree in civil engineering, in an effort to join the family business.
But Osama would have little chance to use his degree. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Osama joined the Afghan resistance, believing it was his duty as a Muslim to fight the occupation. He relocated to Peshawar, Afghanistan, and using aid from the United States under the CIA program Operation Cyclone, he began training a mujahideen, a group of Islamic jihadists. After the Soviets withdrew from the country in 1989, Osama returned to Saudi Arabia as a hero, and the United States referred to him and his soldiers as "Freedom Fighters."
Yet Osama was quickly disappointed with what he believed was a corrupt Saudi government, and his frustration with the U.S. occupation of Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War led to a growing rift between Osama and his country's leaders. Bin Laden spoke publicly against the Saudi government's reliance on American troops, believing their presence profaned sacred soil. After several attempts to silence Osama, the Saudis banished the former hero. He lived in exile in Sudan beginning in 1992.
By 1993, Osama had formed a secret network known as al Qaeda (Arabic for "the Base"), comprised of militant Muslims he had met while serving in Afghanistan. Soldiers were recruited for their ability to listen, their good manners, obedience, and their pledge to follow their superiors. Their goal was to take up the jihadist cause around the world, righting perceived wrongs under the accordance of pure, Islamic law. Under Osama's leadership, the group funded and began organizing global attacks worldwide. By 1994, after continued advocacy of extremist jihad, the Saudi government forced Osama to relinquish his Saudi citizenship, and confiscated his passport. His family also disowned him, cutting off his $7 million yearly stipend.
Undeterred, Osama began executing his violent plans, with the goal of drawing the United States into war. His hope was that Muslims, unified by the battle, would create a single, true Islamic state.
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