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Osama Bin Laden

Mujahid Usamah Bin Ladin

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The New Powder Keg in The Middle East

Osama bin Laden [This article was published in the 15th issue of Nida'ul Islam magazine (http://www.islam.org.au), October - November 1996]


Name: Usamah Bin Mohammad Bin Laden
Born in the city of Riyadh 1377 ah, 1957 ac. Raised in AlMadina AlMunawwara and Hijaz, and received his education in the schools of Jedda, then studied management and economics in King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda. Married with Children.

His outlook: The way of the people of Sunna and Jama'a in accordance with the understanding of the righteous predecessors, in total and in detail. From this emerges the necessity for armed struggle preceded by Da'wa and military preparation in order to repel the greater Kufr, and to cooperate with Muslims in order to unite their word under the banner of monotheism, and to set aside divisions and differences.

He began his interaction with the Islamic groups in 1393 ah (1973 ac) and continued with this until the commencement of Jihad in Afghanistan; he also participated, in the beginning of the eighties, with the Mujahideen against the Communist party in South Yemen, participating once again in the nineties until the downfall of the Communist party.

He established alongside Sheikh Dr Abdullah Azzam - May Allah bless his soul - the office for Mujahideen services in Peshawar; he also established along with Sheikh Azzam the Sidda camp for the training of Arab Mujahideen who came for Jihad in Afghanistan. His first visit to assist the Afghan Mujahideen was after the entry of the Russians by a few days in 1399 ah (1979 ac); he established "Ma`sadat AlAnsar" which was a base for Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan. In 1406 ah (1986 ac) he participated in the battles of Jalalabad with the Arab Mujahideen as he also did in 1409 ah (1989 ac) which was one of the biggest battles which the Arabs engaged in, in Afghanistan.

He migrated from the Arabian peninsula on 16 Shawwal 1411 ah (1991 ac), then he was asked by the Saudi government to return, however he refused, so they withdrew his citizenship, cancelled his passport, froze his assets, and then attacked him through the media by defaming his character both inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

He currently resides in Afghanistan, and has directed a call to the Muslims throughout the world to declare a Jihad against the Judao - Christian alliance which is occupying Islamic sacred land in Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula.

October 28, 2001 -- WASHINGTON POST

Not Who You Think

By Stanley Bedlington

Nobody who has seen it forgets the image of the man on the video: the apparently indomitable Arab veteran seated at the mouth of a cave, deriding Americans -- "the cowards of this age" -- for being "full of fear" while threatening further violence against them. But for a man of such belligerent words, Osama bin Laden is no fighter, nor of course are the inhospitable caves and mountain retreats of Afghanistan his true home. The release of the video, as well as the publication of numerous staged photographs of the terrorist leader in military fatigues, crouching on one knee and pointing his AK-47 at an unseen target, reflect his desire to build up a myth of himself as a warrior. CIA operatives, who ran the covert campaign to arm the mujaheddin, or guerrilla forces, against the Soviets in the 1980s, tell another story: The Arab volunteers bin Laden joined made no great contribution to the battle; the fighting fell mainly to the Afghans. At best, CIA operatives say, bin Laden may have fired a few rounds in self-defense. They attest instead to the wealthy Saudi exile's proclivity for the role he plays today -- which has been to raise money and use it to provide construction equipment and logistics and to fund and advance his terrorist campaign. It has become increasingly clear to me, ever since the threat bin Laden poses first came to my attention in the late '80s, that he is bent on enhancing his reputation by building myths about himself that will appeal to his followers. Puncturing those myths -- both to enhance our own understanding of what we are up against in the current war against and to enlighten the people over whom bin Laden holds sway -- is the skill we must now develop. For while the man who is now America's Most Wanted would like to be seen as an indomitable warlord, there can be little doubt that he is really a master of planning, and that his ambitions are limitless. His modus operandi is already far too familiar: He devises an attack, then provides guidance about the timing and location, but otherwise remains aloof from danger. That's why I call him a "facilitator" -- a description that echoes one of bin Laden's preferred code names, "The Contractor."

In trying to understand bin Laden's intentions, the CIA's goal has always been to assess where he fits within the political and religious power structures of the region. By the mid-1980s, he had already made a name for himself by helping to fund the anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. But when he returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989, though initially treated like a hero, he soon fell foul of the religious establishment for criticizing its lack of devotion. After fleeing to Sudan in 1991, he collaborated with the National Islamic Front -- an organization that combines radical Islamist politics with ruthless violence, although its activities there have recently been curbed. But it was after the Persian Gulf War that bin Laden came into view on the CIA counterterrorist center's radar screen, as he began building training camps in Sudan for extremists from all over the Muslim world. We watched as he melded front organizations into what became al Qaeda -- his international network of terrorist groups and their support cells.

One of bin Laden's strategies has been to mix his real motivations with goals designed to appeal to wide swaths of disaffected Muslims. He has talked for several years about his desire to expel U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia, and has expressed real anger at the pollution of that country's holiest sites -- Mecca and Medina -- by the presence in the region during the Persian Gulf War of hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims. More recently, he has spoken out about the plight of Palestinians, but I believe he has done so out of expediency, seeing in the Palestinian cause a means of attracting new Muslim recruits. Together, these issues provide bin Laden with a potent rallying cry.

Although these objectives spur on his actions, bin Laden's ambitions -- both personal and social -- are greater. Based on his own statements and those of his close associates, bin Laden wants to be portrayed in the Islamic world as a latter-day caliph, or supreme ruler, in the image of the Prophet Muhammad's successors -- a figure who can unite all of Islam. The title not only evokes historic Islamic power but also underlies his grand strategy of bringing together as many terrorist groups as possible, giving him, as the word al Qaeda implies, a "base" from which to spread his influence.

But perhaps just as important as his egotism is bin Laden's ardent desire to halt the flood of American popular culture into the Islamic world. Echoing the inflammatory anti-Western writings of extremists such as Syed Qutb, an Egyptian who gained prominence in the early 1960s, and Maulana Abu Ala Maududi, a Pakistani who continued to be active into the '70s, bin Laden believes that the United States is the "Great Satan." He sees Islam under assault from a rising tide of secularized modernity led by America and by corrupt Arab governments and monarchies.

That is not to suggest that bin Laden is in tune with the beliefs of modern Islam. Having lived in Muslim countries for almost 20 years, I know that, by choosing to obey and enforce the harsh laws of Pashtun village elders, bin Laden and his Taliban comrades are divorcing themselves from the majority of Muslims. He finds company instead in a line of extremists dating back to the Kharijites, who emerged within decades of the Prophet Mohammed's death. For while the scale of bin Laden's violence may be unprecedented, his philosophy of violence is nothing new. Echoing the words of George Habbash, former leader of the terrorist group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who warned several years ago that "in this war, no one is neutral, no one is innocent," bin Laden recently said that "in the name of retaliation there are no innocents."

It comes as no surprise then to see bin Laden readily abjure the religious mainstream, as did the extremists who came before him. His thinking reflects that of Syed Qutb, who shaped himself in the Kharijite mold and attacked the United States during the 1960s for propagating "that crass and vacuous materialistic perception of life; that animal freedom called permissiveness; that slave market dubbed women's liberation." Beliefs such as these are focal to bin Laden's thinking.

He thus juxtaposes his jihad, or holy war, against the United States with the Crusades. In his fatwa issued in February 1998, bin Laden specifically invoked the term jihad as the collective duty of the entire Islamic ummat -- the worldwide community of Muslims -- summoning his followers to perform jihad against both Christianity and Judaism. But both of these religions are described in sacred Islamic texts as Ahl Al-Kitab, or "People of the Book" -- that is, as communities that have received revelation from God in scriptures, and who must be treated with respect. To mount an attack against them is antithetical to the teachings of the Koran.

Once again, then, bin Laden has defiled his own religion in pursuit of his grand strategy, creating his own myth of jihad and ignoring the teachings of the Koran when it suits him. Even in the heat of battle, Islam requires that certain moral inhibitions must be maintained: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you," the Koran demands, "but do not transgress limits, for God loves not the transgressor." In other words, a Muslim can fight back provided it is in defense of Islam, but the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, is not permissible. Compare these to bin Laden's own religious rules: "We do not differentiate between . . . military and civilians." All Americans are targets according to the terms of his fatwa.

The willingness of bin Laden to transgress strict Koranic injunctions is seemingly boundless. If there were any question about whether he believes the ends of his strategy justify his means, his fascination with weapons of mass destruction should lay it to rest. Whether or not the current anthrax infections prove to have been perpetrated by al Qaeda supporters on the orders of bin Laden, there is no doubt that he has often demonstrated his proclivity for wholesale slaughter. Experts on Afghanistan have strong evidence to show that at one secret laboratory at the Abu Shahab camp in Afghanistan, research has been conducted on chemical and nerve gases. The State Department's latest annual report on international terrorism states that al Qaeda "continues to seek chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities."

It is in this willingness to create his own myths, to endorse mass murder as part of his jihad, that bin Laden's Achilles' heel may lie. He expressed no remorse for the Muslims killed on Sept. 11. Perhaps, he sees them as Westernized moderates standing in the way of his ambitions. But his horrendous acts sadden and anger the majority of Muslims around the world. They are infuriated to see bin Laden treat violence as an integral part of Islam, almost as a sixth Pillar of the Faith. And they shudder at his willingness to mold Islamic thinking to suit his own goals, seeing in it the risks of his achieving the title of caliph and thereby wielding immense political power.

There is no precedent, no authority in Islam for the slaughter bin Laden perpetrated on that bright September morning. His death may yet be within reach of American forces overseas, but the downfall of his philosophy of terror may lie in the hope that people increasingly see through the myth of religiously sanctioned invincibility that bin Laden has woven around himself.

Stanley Bedlington studied Osama bin Laden as a senior analyst at the CIA's counterterrorism center, where he worked from 1978 until 1994. He is currently a consultant on Middle East affairs. 2001 The Washington Post Company

Chart Errata

Correction: Bin Laden's N-Saturn conjoins T-Pluto. Bin Laden's N-Saturn is opposite T-Saturn. -- Starcats. Information regarding the difficulty in discovering OBL's birth chart is documented at Stariq.com and at Lois Rodden's Astrodata Bank. In the absence of reliable data, please use the OBL chart above with extreme caution.


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