Date of Birth: 1957
Place of Birth: Saudi Arabia
Height: 6' 4" to 6' 6"
Weight: Approximately 160 pounds
Build: Thin Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Remarks: Leader of a terrorist organization known as Al-Qaeda "The Base".
He walks with a cane.
Scars and Marks: None
"His relation with Taliban would best be understood if Taliban themselves are understood properly. First of all Taliban are not simply another Afghan faction supported by Pakistan. Taliban are sincere to their beliefs, a religiously committed group unspoiled by political tactics. They would never bargain with what they see as matters of principle. Bin Laden for them is a saint. He is a symbol of sacrifice for the sake of jihad. They see him as very rich Arab from the Holy Land who gave up his wealth and luxury to fight for the sake of his brother Muslims in Afghanistan. They see themselves performing a double duty here, an Islamic duty of protecting this distinguished person and a tribal duty of protecting a descent refugee. The latter is a big value in Afghanistan. Once, a Taliban leader said to a Saudi envoy that if a goat would seek refuge to my tent I would never hand it over, how on earth do you want us to hand over a holy man like bin Laden?"
"bin Laden has two circles of followers. First are the closed core followers who are related to him by a chain of command and take orders like a secret organization. Most of those are probably in Afghanistan. Many are inside Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and probably Gulf countries. Like any secret group, those followers would not disclose their relation. Inside Saudi Arabia many of those would appear like any average citizen. The number of those is probably in hundreds."
"The second circle is much wider and the number is probably in thousands. They are located in the same countries. They would look at bin Laden as Godfather but they do not have proper chain of command or secret links with him. They would regard themselves obliged to perform some of his general orders. Most of those followers are not organized and get trapped by the Saudi police fairly easily. But some are intelligent and make use of the loose nature of their structure to function without attracting attention."
Greetings, America. My Name is Osama bin Laden.
By John Miller
February 1999, Volume 131, Issue 2
A conversation with the most dangerous man in the world.
Editor's note: What follows is an article on Osama bin Laden that was published in the February 1999 issue of Esquire. It has not been updated. We have posted it here simply because it contains some unique background information on the lead suspect in the attack on America.
The gunfire started with a few shots, but in seconds it was thundering. On cue, dozens of Arab men began firing their rifles into the air when the headlights of the first four-wheel-drive vehicle crested the mountaintop. My right ear was pounding. I turned, expecting to see a cannon, but instead it was just a smiling boyhe might have been fifteenand he was firing his machine gun an inch from my ear. I assumed that this was some kind of test, a rite of passage. He wanted to see fear. I'd been a reporter and a police official in New York. I'd heard my share of shots fired in anger. I just smiled at the kid and gently pushed the gun away. This was my way of saying, Nice try, but you didn't make me jump. No matter, the kid was right back an inch from my ear, firing away. Now it wasn't funny anymore. I glared at him, but let's face it, the little prick had an AK-47 with a thirty-round clip. How far could I get with hard eyes? One thing I learned in New York during the crack wars of the late eighties: Teenagers with machine guns are best not fucked with. So as I watched the man arrive and his loyal soldiers discharged their weapons in ecstasy, this kid was doing his best to make me deaf.
The mountaintop in southern Afghanistan was a long way from home, but in another way it wasn't. I was almost sure that night that the man I had come to meet, the man who was inspiring all this firepower, had pressed the buttons that blew up the World Trade Center in New York. Small world.
Just minutes before this explosive welcome, I had been told, "Mr. bin Laden will be here shortly." The tall bearded man with the elaborate turban had not introduced himself by name, but he seemed to be, for lack of a better title, Osama bin Laden's press secretary. "We have prepared a great welcome. Whenever he comes, there is always celebration."
Yellow trails from tracer bullets streaked at odd angles, crisscrossing the black, star-crowded skies. Fireworks shot up, and sparks fell like orange rain, evaporating before they hit the ground. As the gunfire continued, the motorcade of three four-wheel-drives crossed the flat dirt encampment.
Scores of bin Laden's most devout followers were here, all carrying Chinese- and Russian-made machine guns. Several were posted strategically with rocket-propelled grenades. For months, I had been trying to arrange an interview with the man. Now, two months before the destruction of U. S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by bin Laden's truck bombs, it was happening. It was after midnight on this mountaintop, and Osama bin Laden was not yet a household name in the United States. Still, a grand jury in New York had for a year been hearing evidence about his role as a key organizer and financier of anti-American terrorism. The FBI suspected that bin Ladenor at least bin Laden's moneyhad been behind everything from the World Trade Center bombing to the downing of American helicopters in Somalia to bombings that targeted American servicemen in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. And by now, bin Laden knew that his targets were beginning to wake up to the threat he posed.
That was the very reason I wanted to interview him, and the reason getting such an interview would not be a simple process. His public-relations apparatus is a sophisticated and complex network of agents and intermediaries. The first discussions took place in the old, ornate Jefferson Hotel in Washington. A couple of ABC News producers, Chris Isham and Len Tepper, brought me to meet with a trusted contact who had good connections among Islamic fundamentalists. Soon he sent word back: We would have to travel to London and meet with some of bin Laden's people. Bin Laden, it seems, has people all over. Two meetings, both in Tudor-style homes a half hour's drive from central London. We removed our shoes, drank cider and water, and made our intentions toward bin Laden known. We told his people we would raise the issues that concerned him, and "tell his side" and enough about his background so people would get a broader understanding of him.
-1957 Osama Bin Laden born to Syrian mother, reportedly the seventh son among 50 brothers and sisters. His father Mohammed Awad bin Laden owned the biggest construction company in the kingdom of South Yemen. Source
-1970 Osama Bin Laden's father dies.
-1974 Bin Laden marries a Syrian girl who is a relative.
-1981 Bin Laden obtains a degree in public administration from King Abdul-Aziz university in Jeddah.
-1981 Bin Laden visits mujahedeen refugees and fighers in Pakistan who fled after Soviet Invastion of Afghanistan. He sympathizes with them and begins collecting funds and supplies for the mujahedeen.
-1982 Bin Laden visits Afghanistan with construction machinery which he uses to help the mujahedeen.
-1984 Bin Laden establishing the guesthouse in Peshawar which becomes the first stop for Arab mujahedeen before they start training or go to the front.
-1986 Bin Laden builds his own command and training camps in Afghanistan and begins leading battles himself.
-1988 His command complex is called "The Base" or Al-Qa'edah. He starts recording and tracking visitors to the Base and movement between the guesthouse and camps.
-1989 Bin Laden went to South Yemen and was banned from travel because he gave speeches warning of an imminent invasion by Sadam Hussein, which was embarrassing to the Yemeni leadership who had a good relationship with Hussein.
-1990 After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he volunteered to the king of South Yemen to bring all the Arab mujahedeen to protect the kingdom.
-1991 Bin Laden was about to mobilize his forces, but was disappointed to learn that the U.S. was sending forces to
-1991 (April) Bin Laden has his travel restrictions lifted temporarily but leaves South Yemen and goes to Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan.
late 1991 Bin Laden leaves Afghanistan which was embroiled in disputes between various factions and goes to Sudan in his private jet.
-1994 The Saudi's announce publicly their opposition to Bin Laden and withdraw his citizenship.
-1996 Bin Laden flees Sudan and goes to Eastern Afghanistan.
-1996 He issued his first anti-American message, a Declaration of War, stating his intentions to expel American forces outside the Arabian Peninsula.
-1996 (late) Taliban (a political faction) takes control of Jalalabad, where Bin Laden lives. Mullah Omer, the leader of Taliban, promises him protection.
-1997 Taliban Mullah Omer meets Osama after two TV interviews, including one with CNN. Mullah Omer reported expressed respect and admiration but requested that Osama keep a low profile.
-1997 (late) The U.S. plans an operation where "American special forces [would] attack bin Laden's residence in Qandahar and kidnap him in a commando style operation." Source
-1997 Bin Laden pursuades 40 religious scholars in Afghanistan to sign a "fatwah" which sanctions the use of "all means to expel the American forces from the Peninsula."
-1998 (February) Bin Laden forms the "International Front" and announces a "fatwah" sanctioning killing Jews and Americans.
-1998 (April) Bin Laden is interviewed by an ABC news team and two weeks later he holds a press conference in Khost. He warned of an impending attack.
-1998 (July) The American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed within 9 minutes of each other killing 224 people.
-Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center twin towers destroyed by hijaaked commercial airline flights crashing into upper floors. Entire buildings collapsed. Manhattan is evacuated. Commercial airliner also crashes into Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. causing major damage and fire. All federal buildings are closed and evacuated