From: Charles Champion
Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2001 1:40 AM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [msal-politics] Osama bin Laden
I've been disappointed that so many media organizations have not provided any accurate information on bin Laden's motivations. I am more familiar with the politics of the Middle East than most Americans so my frustration is increased because I already know why various groups hate the U.S. so much. I've been waiting for the media to mention it, but they have not done a very good job.
Lots of people have been talking as if the attacks were motivated by hostility to the freedom or wealth of Americans. That is NOT a major motivation for ANY of the anti-U.S. groups in the Middle East. It should be no mystery to Americans what motivates anti-U.S. terrorists. Every group which is a major suspect in the attacks yesterday has publicly announced their reasons for opposing the U.S. (some have different reasons, but they all announce them)
I was considering writing a summary of this to post here, but finally someone in the media has written some basic background info which may be helpful. If Osama bin Laden or his associates are responsible, this should clarify their motives:
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. - AP files
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Osama bin Laden's rage against America
began festering in 1990, when the United States sent its troops to Saudi
Arabia. They had come to defend the Persian Gulf oil powerhouse
against an expansionist Iraq, but ended up with a new foe who vowed to
To fully understand how bin Laden became a world-famous suspected
terrorism mastermind and an America hater, it is necessary to see how
he became an Islamic holy warrior.
Bin Laden first achieved prominence in Afghanistan during an insurgency
against the invading Soviet Union in the 1980s. It was led by Afghan
Islamic rebels, heavily bankrolled by the United States.
He is said to have received considerable money during the 10-year
battle from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which covertly helped
finance the Islamic insurrection during the Cold War.
In 1989, when the fighting ended with Moscow's retreat, bin Laden
returned home to Saudi Arabia. There, he began a confrontation with the
Saudi monarchy over its decision to invite American troops into Saudi
Arabia, the site of two of Islam's holiest places, Mecca and Medina.
Many devout Muslims believe that the land of Saudi Arabia, where the
prophet Muhammed lived and died, is sacred and should be off-limits
for nonbelievers. Only Muslims are permitted in the cities of Mecca and
In 1990, the United States deployed its troops to Saudi Arabia in
response to Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. The result was the Persian
Bin Laden rallied disgruntled Saudi veterans of the Afghan insurgency
and openly accused Saudi Arabia's King Fahd of selling the holy sites of
Islam to the United States.
Hounded by Saudi intelligence officials who arrested him for his criticism
of the monarchy, bin Laden left in 1992 for Sudan, where hardline
Islamist Hasan Turabi was in power. There, bin Laden's Al-Qaida
organization took shape, embracing a hardline Islamist philosophy from
north African countries and the Gulf states.
Since then, a whole string of terrorist attacks against U.S. targets have
occurred at regular intervals, including the 1993 bombing of the World
Trade Center, the 1996 bombing of U.S. military housing in Saudi
Arabia and the 1999 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.
Bin Laden never claimed responsibility for any of these attacks, but has
been accused of playing a role in most of them. Now he is the top
suspect in Tuesday's horrific attacks in New York and Washington.
According to a Palestinian journalist, bin Laden praised the attacks, but
"Osama bin Laden thanked Almighty Allah and bowed before him when
he heard this news," said Jamal Ismail, Abu Dhabi Television's bureau
chief in Islamabad, quoting a bin Laden aide. "But he had no information
or knowledge about the attack."
Bin Laden has urged young Muslims worldwide to wage a jihad, or holy
war, against the United States, and operates several training camps in
Afghanistan, where he is protected by the country's hard-line Islamic
Taliban government. The students include militants from Chechnya,
Uzbekistan, Pakistan, China and most Arab countries.
"There are training camps in every province of Afghanistan," said a
senior Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The
Arabs are coming and going all the time," the official said.
Bin Laden has even written poems eulogizing past terrorist attacks.
At the wedding of his son in southern Kandahar in February -- a rare
public appearance -- bin Laden praised last year's suicide bombing of
the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, which killed 17 American
Of the 17 sailors who died, bin Laden said: "The pieces of the bodies of
infidels were flying like dust particles. If you would have seen it with your
own eyes, you would have been very pleased, and your heart would
have been filled with joy."
His Arabic language poem was acquired by The Associated Press and
As recently as May of this year, bin Laden instructed hard-line Islamic
activists at a Muslim convention in neighboring Pakistan to prepare the
next generation for the jihad.
"Issue a call to the young generation to get ready for the holy war and to
prepare for that in Afghanistan because jihad in this time of crisis for
Muslims is an obligation of all Muslims," he said in a statement.
In 1996, Sudan bowed to relentless pressure from the United States and
asked bin Laden to leave. He moved to Afghanistan, with 180 followers
and three wives, to join a guerrilla colleague from the days of the Soviet
invasion. He is believed to operate at least two training centers in eastern
Nangarhar province, at Darunta and Farmada.
Earlier this summer, a federal jury in New York convicted four bin
Laden allies for their roles in the 1998 embassy bombings. Those
attacks, like Tuesday's, were well-coordinated.
The FBI has placed a $5 million bounty on his head and the State
Department has called him "one of the most significant sponsors of
Islamic extremist activities in the world today."
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