Osama bin Laden was born in 1957 to the Yemeni family of Mohammed Awad bin Laden. The 17th child among 54 brothers and sisters, surprisingly, Osama is the only child of his fatherís union with a Palestinian woman, the tenth and least favoured wife of Mohammed.Osama Bin Laden
Bin Ladenís father owned the biggest construction company in Saudi Arabia. A poor porter by birth, Osamaís father had immigrated to Saudi Arabia in 1930. He shot to fame by bagging a few prestigious construction projects. Not only did he build a powerful business empire, but also established close relationship with the royal family.
The Bin Laden household enforced strict religious and social code. Discipline was a must. At the same time, the children were entertained by picnics and trips. Mohammed expected his children to be confident and responsible right from a young age. He saw to it that his sons handled several projects independently. Osamaís father passed away in 1968 leaving behind a huge industrial and financial empire. Osama began his schooling in Jeddah and along with his brothers went on to study at Victoria College, Alexandria. He studied with the likes of King Hussein of Jordan and actor Omar Sharif. Osama further pursued economics and management at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. At the age of 17, he married a Syrian relative.
As a child, Osama was exposed to the Islamic culture and views from the hundreds of Haj pilgrims who would stay in his house every year. He would build up a good rapport with these people, consisting of Islamic scholars and leaders. His distinguished guides to Islam were Abdullah Azam and Mohammed Quttub, two famous Islamic scholars.
Osama was just like any other rich child. He had all the luxuries that he could wish for. He had life laid out on a platter for him. He could have easily inherited his family business, earning name and fame with it. But, Osama bin Laden was destined to make a name, albeit in a different way.
The late 80s saw a surge in the anti-Soviet measures by CIA. William Casey, the CIA chief devised a three-point plan to defeat the Soviets. Firstly, he provided the Mujahideen with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down the Soviet warplanes. He also provided trainers for the fighters. It was an interesting move because the US weapons or personnel had never been used in a full-fledged war.Osama Bin Laden
The second point was a frontal assault on Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by the CIA, MI6 of Britain and Pakistanís ISI. The two small countries were the channels of supplies to the Soviet troops.
The third point was a commitment of support to ISI for recruiting Islamic fighters all over the world. They were encouraged to fight with the Mujahideen.
Thus, the CIA effectively used their strategies to show the picture of a united Muslim world fighting the Soviet troops.
Bin Laden, the Mujahideen and the CIA, all treaded the same path in the 80s with a common goal Ė to oust the Soviets. Bin Laden and the CIA worked in tandem to build the Khost tunnel complex and form a base for the Mujahideen. It had facilities for storing arms, training fighters and treating affected Mujahideen.
The actual cause of the acrimony between America and Bin Laden was the entry of American troops in the Arab peninsula. He turned all his efforts against America. He saw America as an anti-Islamic bully. The CIA, on the other hand, understood Bin Ladenís plans and set up a cell to monitor his activities. The then US president Bill Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism Act authorizing the US to freeze Bin Ladenís assets.
Bin Laden gave America a shock by stating his intentions to use chemical weapons against them. Bin Laden also garnered enough support against America from the Taliban government. He had found a good ally and a safe shelter against the CIA. The fighter who was nurtured and given shape to fight their cause when the need arose went on to turn the tables on America.