Key dates in Osama bin Laden s life

May 2, 2011 12:00 am

, ISLAMABAD, May 2 – The following are key events in the life of Osama bin Laden, whose death was announced by US President Barack Obama on Sunday.

1957: Born in the Saudi city of Riyadh, one of some 54 children born to Mohammad bin Laden, a construction magnate. His mother is of Syrian origin. Bin Laden\’s exact date of birth unknown.

1969: Mohammed bin Laden dies in a helicopter crash. Osama, then aged around 11, is believed to have inherited $80 million. The boy later goes on to study civil engineering in the city of Jeddah.

1973: Forms links with extremist Muslim groups and builds up his fortune by managing the family construction business.

December 26, 1979: Soviet forces invade Afghanistan, an event that will precipitate a bloody 10-year war and radicalise a generation of Islamic extremists, including bin Laden.

1984: Bin Laden travels to Afghanistan, responding to calls for a jihad, or holy Islamic war, against the Soviet occupying force. There, he finances and takes command of a force of some 20,000 Islamic fighters recruited from around the world.

1988: Believed to be the year in which bin Laden founded his group Al-Qaeda (the base).

1989: The Soviet Union withdraws its forces from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda goes on to become a worldwide network of Islamic extremist groups with members in between 35 and 60 countries and headquarters in Afghanistan.

1991: A US-led alliance launches a war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which Iraq had occupied the previous year. Bin Laden declares jihad against the United States because it has based forces in his native Saudi Arabia, where Islam\’s two most holy places are located.

1992: Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia, but his support for violent Islamic extremist groups in Egypt and Algeria leads his home country to withdraw his passport. Expelled from Saudi Arabia, he takes up residence in Sudan.

February 26, 1993: An explosion in the basement of the World Trade Centre in New York kills six people and injures around 1,000. The attack is later blamed on Al-Qaeda.

1994: The Saudi authorities strip bin Laden of his nationality after he issues fatwas, or Islamic religious pronouncements, denouncing both the royal family and the United States.

November 13, 1995: A car bomb explodes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in front of a building of the Saudi national guard where US military advisors work. Five US soldiers and two Indian nationals are killed and more than 60 people are injured. The attack is attributed to bin Laden\’s group, which does not claim responsibility but makes clear its support for those responsible.

June 25, 1996: A truck loaded with explosives destroys a building at the US military base of Khobar in Saudi Arabia. Nineteen US nationals are killed and 386 are wounded.

1996: Sudan, facing pressure from the United Nations, tells bin Laden to leave. Rumours say he moves on to Yemen, then secretly to Saudi Arabia, but he ultimately resurfaces in Afghanistan, where he again issues fatwas against US citizens.

September 1996: The Taliban, a Pakistani-backed Islamic movement whose name means "religious students", capture the Afghan capital Kabul. Over the following six years they consolidate their hold over some 90 percent of the country.

August 7, 1998: Near-simultaneous bomb attacks against US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam kill 224 people, most of them Africans, and injure thousands.

August 20, 1998: In retaliation for the embassy attacks, the US strikes bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan and Sudan with cruise missiles, killing at least 20 people. Bin Laden is not present.

November 1998: Bin Laden is indicted by a New York court in connection with the embassy attacks in Tanzania and Kenya, and charged in absentia with murder and conspiracy to kill US citizens outside the United States.

1999: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation places bin Laden on its "10 most wanted" list.

October 12, 2000: A suicide attack on the destroyer USS Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen kills 17 US Marines and wounds 38. The attack is attributed to Al-Qaeda.


September 9: Ahmad Shah Masood, the head of the Afghan opposition Northern Alliance, is killed in a suicide attack in northern Afghanistan.

September 11: Two hijacked US airliners crash into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, which subsequently collapse. A third hijacked plane crashes into the Pentagon outside Washington and a fourth in rural Pennsylvania. The attacks kill around 3,000 people.

September 13: Bin Laden is named principal suspect for coordinating the attacks in New York and Washington.

September 23: Washington offers a 25-million-dollar reward for any information leading to the arrest of bin Laden.

October 7: US-led strikes on Afghanistan begin, aimed at forcing the ruling Taliban to hand over bin Laden. Bin Laden vows no peace for the US and its citizens in a message broadcast via the Al-Jazeera television network. While not explicitly claiming responsibility for the attacks, he praises those who carried them out.

November 3: In a second message broadcast on Al-Jazeera, bin Laden appeals to all Muslims to defend their religion and Afghan citizens against the US "crusade", calls then UN secretary general Kofi Annan a "criminal" and leaders of UN Arab members "infidels".

November 10: The Pakistani newspaper Dawn publishes an exclusive interview with bin Laden in which he claims to have chemical and nuclear weapons. "I wish to declare that if America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons," he says.

November 13: Afghan opposition forces enter the capital Kabul, marking the beginning of the end for the Taliban regime that sheltered bin Laden.

December 7: Afghan opposition forces enter the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban\’s birthplace and only remaining stronghold. Bin laden is believed to have fled to the remote Tora Bora mountains in the east. Despite a massive US-led operation to track him down, the trail goes dead.

December 13: Washington releases a video recording in which bin Laden claims responsibility for the September 11 attacks and says they were beyond his expectations.

December 16: Afghan commander Haji Mohammad Zaman announces that 2,000 Al-Qaeda fighters were on the run after being flushed out of a network of caves and tunnels in Tora Bora, but that the world\’s most wanted man had managed to escape.


From early 2002 there are a series of claims, denials and reports on bin Laden\’s whereabouts. He is variously reported to be in Afghanistan, Iran Pakistan — or dead.


February 6: Then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf says bin Laden is probably alive and hiding in Afghanistan, but claims Al-Qaeda is no longer an effective terrorist organisation.

March 1: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, believed to be Al-Qaeda\’s number-three and the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, is arrested in Pakistan and handed over to US authorities.

March 20: US-led war against Iraq starts.


Bin Laden releases a series of statements including comments on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, threats of more attacks, and offers of a truce with the United States.


– April 15: "I present a reconciliation initiative… to stop operations against all (European) countries if they promise not to be aggressive towards Muslims." (Al-Arabiya audiotape)


– March 20: Warns Europe of a "reckoning" after controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed published. (Internet audiotape)


June 3: Scorns Obama\’s Middle East charm offensive and accuses him of "antagonising Muslims."


Jan 24: Claims botched Christmas Day bombing of US airliner and threatens more strikes on US targets. (Al-Jazeera audiotape).

Jan 29: Blames industrial nations for climate change and the United States for refusing to sign up to the Kyoto protocol, while urging a US dollar boycott. (Al-Jazeera audiotape).


May 1: Bin Laden is killed in a firefight with covert US forces in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, northeast of the capital Islamabad, Obama announces in a televised address.

– A US official says an adult son of the Al-Qaeda chief was also killed in the operation, which lasted less than 40 minutes.

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