Essays

Osama bin Laden

What do Osama bin Laden, Muhammad Atef, terrorism, and Islamic militants all have in common? They are all associated with Al-Qaida (the Base). What is Al-Qaida (the Base)? Al-Qaida is a multi-national support group which funds and orchestrates the activities of Islamic militants worldwide. It grew out of the Afghan war against the Soviets, and its core members consist of afghan war veterans from all over the Muslim world. Al-Qaida was established around 1988 by the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden.

Based in Afghanistan, bin Laden uses an extensive international network to maintain a loose connection between Muslim extremists in diverse countries. Working through high-tech means, such as faxes, satellite telephones, and the internet, he is in touch with an unknown number of followers all over the Arab world, as well as Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. Al-Qaida supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kosovo. It also trains members of terrorists organizations from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.

World Islamic Front,1). The organizations primary goal is to overthrow what it sees as the corrupt and heretical governments of Muslim states, and their replacement with the rule of Sharia (Islamic law). Al-Qaida is intensely anti-Western, and views the United States in particular as the primary enemy of Islam. Bin Laden has issued three fatwahs or religious rulings calling upon Muslims to take up arms against the United States. Al-Qaida continues to attempt to radicalize existing Islamic groups and create Islamic groups where they do not exist.

They advocate destruction to the United States, which is seen as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies. Osama bin laden entered on his current path of holy war in 1979, the year Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. He transferred his business to Afghanistan–including several hundred loyal workmen and heavy construction tools–and set out to liberate the land from the infidel invader. Recognizing at once that the Afghans were lacking both infrastructure and manpower to fight a protracted conflict, he set about solving both problems at once. The first step was to set up an organized program of conscription.

Together with Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdellah Azzam, he organized a recruiting office–Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK-Services Office). MAK advertised all over the Arab world for young Muslims to come fight in Afghanistan and set up branch recruiting offices all over the world, including in the U. S. and Europe. Bin Laden paid for the transportation of the new recruits to Afghanistan, and set up facilities to train them. The Afghan government donated land and resources, while bin Laden brought in experts from all over the world on querilla warfare, sabotage, and covert operations.

Within a little over a year he had thousands of volunteers in training in his private bootcamps. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 fighters received training and combat experience in Afghanistan, with only a fraction coming from the native Afghan population. Nearly half of the fighting force came from bin Ladens native Saudi Arabia. Others came from Algeria(roughly 3,000), from Egypt(2,000), with thousands more coming from other Muslim countries such as Yemen, Pakistan, and the Sudan. The war in Afghanistan was the stage for one of the last major stand-offs between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Americans at that time had the same goals as bin Ladens mujahedin–the ousting of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. In what was hailed at the time as one of its most successful covert operations, Americas Central Intelligence Agency launched a $500 million-per-year campaign to arm and train the impoverished and outgunned mujahedin querillas to fight the Soviet Union. The most promising querilla leaders were sought out and sponsored by the CIA. U. S. official sources are understandably vague on the question of whether Osama bin Laden was one of the CIAs chosen at that time. Bin Ladens group was one of seven main mujahedin factions.

It is estimated that a significant quantity of high tech American Weapons, including stinger anti-aircraft missiles, made their way into his arsenal. The majority of then are reported to still be there. The Mujahedin were wildly successful. In the ten years of savage fighting they vanquished the Soviet Union. What had begun as a fragmented army of tribal warriors ended up a well-organized and equipped modern army–one capable of beating a super power. The departing Soviet troops left behind an Afghanistan with a huge arsenal of sophisticated weapons and thousands of seasoned Islamic warriors from a variety of countries.

Toward the end of the war in Afghanistan, bin Laden split with MAK co-founder Azzam in the late 1980s, and in 1988 formed al-Qaida to continue the work of the Jihad. While Azzam continued to focus on support to Muslims in Afghanistan, bin Laden turned his attention to carrying the war to other countries. In 1989, while on his way with his two sons to Friday prayers in Peshawar, Azzam was killed by a massive explosion. His killers have never been identified; Azzam had many enemies. (Elliott, 2). Several rumors circulating at the time blamed bin Laden himself for the attack.

In February 1998, bin Laden announced the formation of an umbrella organization called The Islamic World Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders. Among the members of this organization are the Egyptian al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya and the Egytian al-Jihad. Both of these groups have been active in terrorism over the past decade. The founder members of the Front include, besides bin Laden; Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Jihad; Rifai Ahmad Taha, a leader of the Islamic group.

The Islamic Group is linked with the al-Dir al-Bahri massacre in Luxor in November 1997, which claimed the lives of 58 tourists; and some leaders of the extremist fundamentalist movements in Pakistan. On May 28, 1998 the Islamabad daily, The News reported that Osama bin Laden had announced the formation of an International Islamic Front for Jihad against America and Israel. Talking to a group of journalists who had traveled for Pakistan to meet him at his base in Khost in southern Afghanistan, he said leaders of Islamic movements in several countries, including Pakistan had evinced interest in joining the front.

He stated that Dr. Aiman Al-Zawahiri had played a crucial front in launching the front. To sum this all up, al-Qaida is a network of many different fundamentalist organizations in diverse countries. The common factor in all these groups is the use of terrorism for the attainment of their political goals, and an agenda whose main priority is the overthrow of the heretic governments in their respective countries and the establishment of Islamic governments based on the rule of Shariah.

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