Who is this one person against which the only world power is mobilizing its army and launching a war? Due to him, it violated the sovereignty of two member states in the United Nations and gambles away international legality. Who is Osama Bin Laden and what is his relationship with the Egyptian violent organizations? What is the secret of the Taliban movement [in Afghanistan] that supports him to the extent that it defends him with the blood of its members? These questions are answered in this report.
Osama Bin Laden was born in Riyadh in 1957 to a rich family working in construction. His father, Mohammed Ben Laden, was a self-made man who was very close to King Abdel-Aziz, the founder of the Saudi Kingdom. Osama lived the life of the mega-rich as the son of one of the richest men of Saudi Arabia and despite the importance of religion to his family, he himself did not express a significant interest in religion. That changed when he met members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia while he was a student of management and economy in Jeddah in 1973. He used his managerial skills in establishing a company called Al-Fayda, that he ran in addition to running his father’s construction company.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was a turning point in the life of the 22 year old Bin Laden. He used his money to establish centers to help volunteers who wanted to fight in Afghanistan. During that period he had the blessings and support of the American CIA, that facilitated the opening of such a center in Washington. Throughout the 1980s, Washington financed all the organizations that were ready to fight the Red army. During that same time, America blessed Bin Laden’s recruitment of thousands of fundamentalist Arabs to fight against the Soviets. Those were later known as the Arab Afghans.
The Americans, through the Pakistani intelligence, supplied him with money and military aid, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. They also supported the establishment of military bases that Bin Laden built using his company Al-Fayda. He also constructed many trenches, hospitals, roads and training camps for his militias.
The American intelligence reports say that Bin Laden lives in a cave equipped with electronic equipment that are connected to satellites that enable him to communicate with all the bases around the world. He is surrounded by a large number of followers who protect him, many of whom are members in the Taliban movement.
After the Afghan victory in 1989, Bin Laden moved into trade and did many deals, but he soon went back to finance the Islamic movements in Pakistan and Algeria. His ally of yesterday, the United States, became his enemy. He tried to distance himself from the struggles among the Afghan factions, each of which tried to reach power, and he returned to Saudi Arabia in 1992. He went on, however, supplying support to the violent groups in Egypt, Algeria and Yemen which led the Saudi authorities to withdraw his passport and his family denounced him.
He then moved his activities to Europe through his followers who moved to Switzerland and Britain. He established many companies and organized an economic unit led by Rashid Ramda, who is a member of the militant Algerian group Al-Gama’a Al-Islamia. He also established several companies in Italy under false local names. The Italian newspaper Corriera della Serra says that he finances more than 300 magazines and 80 percent of the extremist publications in the Islamic world. The newspaper also said that he gave an amount of money to a group of his followers to establish a television network directed to the Islamic world in order to shed light on the Arab fighters in Bosnia.
There were rumors that he lived in Yemen and that he stayed secretly in Saudi Arabia but then he reappeared in Afghanistan and started issuing fatwas against the United States in April 1996, February 1997 and February 1998. He called on Muslims to resist the American presence in Arab and Islamic lands.
With regard to his connection to the Egyptian extremist movement, the security reports and the confessions of those accused in Egyptian military cases reveal that Ayman Al-Zawahry, the leader of Al-Jihad Movement, was the link between the Egyptian Afghans and Osama Bin Laden. Al-Zawahry established Al-Jihad’s presence in Afghanistan and was the go-between in channeling the Egyptian fundamentalists to Afghanistan. The admissions of the Egyptian Afghans asserted the strong link between Bin Laden, Al-Zawahry, the Pakistani Intelligence and the American Intelligence in smuggling and financing the Egyptians to join the Mujahideen.
Bin Laden was also said to be behind the new closeness between Al-Jihad and Al-Gama’a Al-Islamia, which led to the establishment of what is known as the International Islamic Front for War against the Jews and Crusaders. He organized a meeting between Al-Zawahry and Refae Ahmed Taha, the head of the Gama’a Islamia’s Shura Council, in which an agreement was made to overcome their differences and direct part of their efforts to launch attacks on America and Israel outside Egypt.
The latest bombings in the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania are generally attributed to this cooperation between Bin Laden and Al-Zawahry. A French expert in international terrorism said that an Islamic network belonging to Bin Laden was discovered in Mombassa in Kenya a few months ago and its members were arrested. Analysts agreed that the United Stated planted the seeds of terrorism through the CIA and spread them in Afghanistan starting with Osama Bin Laden and his associates and ending with the Taliban movement. A report for the French press agency said that aid given to anti Soviet forces in this country helped start terrorism.