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Who is Osama bin Laden?
Osama bin Laden is the founder and leader of al-Qaeda, an international terrorist network. He is the U.S. government?s prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. His whereabouts are unknown, but in November 2002, a recently recorded audiotape that U.S. intelligence officials say contains bin Laden?s voice surfaced in Pakistan?the first indication in nearly a year that he is still alive.
Why does bin Laden hate America?
Bin Laden and other militant Islamist leaders issued a 1998 manifesto denouncing the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, U.S. support of Israel, and sanctions against Iraq. ?To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country,? the manifesto reads, ?until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam.? Bin Laden regards Western institutions?coed schools, MTV, Rotary clubs, democracy itself?as depraved.
What is al-Qaeda?
Al-Qaeda is an international terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden. It seeks to rid Muslim countries of what it sees as the profane influence of the West and replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes. After al-Qaeda?s September 11, 2001, attacks on America, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda?s bases there and overthrow the Taliban, the country?s Muslim fundamentalist rulers who harbored bin Laden and his followers. ?Al-Qaeda? is Arabic for ?the base.?
What are al-Qaeda?s origins?
Al-Qaeda grew out of the Services Office, a clearinghouse for the international Muslim brigade opposed to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the Services Office?run by bin Laden and the Palestinian religious scholar Abdullah Azzam?recruited, trained, and financed thousands of foreign mujahedeen, or holy warriors, from more than 50 countries. Bin Laden wanted these fighters to continue the ?holy war? beyond Afghanistan. He formed al-Qaeda around 1988.
There is growing world attention on the remote Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan as efforts continue to locate Osama Bin Laden and other key al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects.
However, so far no senior al-Qaeda or Taleban figure has been caught in this semi-autonomous area where the Pakistani army beefed up its presence after the US intervention in neighbouring Afghanistan in October, 2001.
There are persistent reports that sympathetic Pashtun tribesmen in the area are providing fugitives with shelter and support.