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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.
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In 1996, to forward his goal, al Qaeda detonated truck bombs against U.S. occupied forces in Saudi Arabia. The next year, they claimed responsibility for killing tourists in Egypt, and in 1998 they bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania, killing nearly 300 people in the process.
Osama's actions abroad did not go unnoticed by the Sudanese government, and he was exiled from their country in 1996. Not able to return to Saudi Arabia, Osama took refuge in Afghanistan,
where he received protection from the country's ruling Taliban militia. While under the protection of the Taliban, Osama issued a series of fatwas, religious statements, which declared a holy war against the United States. Among the accusations reared at the offending country were the pillaging of natural resources in the Muslim world, and assisting the enemies of Islam.
By 2001, Osama had attempted, and often successfully executed attacks on several countries using the help of Al Qaeda trained terrorists and his seemingly bottomless financial resources. On September 11, 2001, Osama would deliver his most devastating blow to the United States. A small group of Osama's Al Qaeda jihadists hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft in the United States, two of which collided into the World Trade Center towers. Another aircraft crashed into The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane was successfully retaken, and crashed in Pennsylvania. The intended target of the final aircraft was believed to be the United States Capitol. In all, the attack killed nearly 3,000 civilians.
Following the September 11 attacks on the United States, the government under President George W. Bush formed a coalition that sucecssfully overthrew the Taliban. Osama went into hiding and, for more than 10 years, he was hunted along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In 2004, shortly before President Bush's re-election, Osama bin Laden released a videotaped message claiming responsibility for the attacks on 9/11.
Then, on May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a terrorist compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In an eight-month plan enacted by the president, and led by CIA Director Leon Panetta and American special forces, Osama was shot several times. His body was taken as evidence of his death, and DNA tests revealed that the body was, in fact, his. "For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and our allies," President Obama said in a late-night address to the nation on the eve of Osama's death. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda." He added that "his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity."
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