Who was Osama bin Laden ?

Osama bin Laden is, rather was, a "businessman" and son of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families, and the coordinator of an international terrorist network believed to be responsible for numerous deadly attacks against American and Western targets.

Osama formed the terrorist Al-Qaeda ("the base") organization in 1988, and it is believed to have operatives in as many as twenty countries. In 1998 bin Laden announced the establishment of "The International Islamic Front for Holy War Against Jews and Crusaders," an umbrella organization linking Islamic extremists in scores of countries around the world, including Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The group issued a religious edict upon its establishment: "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians, and the military, is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy Mosque from their grip and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated, and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, and 'fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."

His militancy is traced back to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Osama's avowed goal from that time is to remove Western "infidels" from Muslim countries - the Russians from Afghanistan, the American military from Saudi Arabia and other points in the Gulf - the downfall of many governments of Muslim states, and for the destruction of the United States and its allies.

Bin Laden is the son of the Yemeni-born owner of a leading Saudi construction company. Born into great wealth, he is believed to have inherited as much as $300 million when his father died in the 1960's. From 1979, bin Laden began raising money for the Mujahadin forces fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and gradually became more and more affiliated with Egyptian Islamic extremist groups, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad. From the mid-1980's bin Laden began to establish training camps in Afghanistan, initially for the war in Afghanistan, but later to fight against other targets worldwide. He has attracted thousands of recruits from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Sudan.

Reportedly, bin Osama's anti-Americanism intensified during the Gulf War, when U.S. troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia. According to The New York Times: "The presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the home of the two holiest Muslim shrines, enraged Osama and other Arab militants." He and his associates also blamed the U.S. support for Israel as anti-Islam.

In 1994 Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden's citizenship, citing his opposition to the Saudi King and leadership and expelled him from the country. He then went to Khartoum, Sudan (where he owns numerous businesses), but under U.S. pressure was expelled in 1996 and relocated to Afghanistan. Osama is on the FBI's list of 10 most-wanted criminals, and the State Department offered a $5 million reward for his arrest following the August 1998 embassy bombings. The United Nations imposed economic sanctions on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1999 for harboring Osama, and many nations, including the U.S. have frozen assets owned by Osaman and his senior associates.

Osama has been thought to finance, inspire or directly organize various terrorist attacks. In one way or another his name has been linked to the killings of Western tourists by militant Islamic groups in Egypt, bombings in France by Islamic extremist Algerians, the maintenance of a safe-house in Pakistan for Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and sheltering Sheikh Omar Abd Al-Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), who was also convicted in the World Trade Center bombing. He has also been linked to the 1992 bombings of a hotel in Yemen, which killed two Australians, but was supposedly targeted against American soldiers stationed there; the 1995 detonation of a car bomb in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the 1995 truck bomb in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen; and the 1995 assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Bin Laden has been directly connected to the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people, and the October 2000 attack of the U.S. destroyer ship Cole in Yemen.

Osama has made no secret of his anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel sentiments. In fact, he has been outspoken on these topics, issuing theological rulings calling for Muslims to attack Americans and threatening terrorism against related targets. Pointing to the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Osama  has consistently declared that the United States is vulnerable to defeat by a jihad by Islamic forces.

Born with a Silver Spoon

Osama was born in Saudi Arabia around 1957 to a father of Yemeni origins and a Syrian mother. His father, Mohammed bin Laden, founded a construction company and with royal patronage became a billionaire. The company's connections won it such important commissions as rebuilding mosques in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Mohammed bin Laden took numerous wives and fathered about 50 children. Osama was the 17th son, the only born to a later wife. In a society where status within a family is highly important, bin Laden would therefore have been of relatively low rank.

Osama studied management and economics at King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, coming under the influence of religious teachers who introduced him to the wider world of Islamic politics.

Where was Osama prior to his death ?

By thinking "outside the box" ASEC has concluded that Osama was first hiding out in Sudan.  We expected that he went there well in advance of 9-11 in order to avoid the U.S. response to that event. Our reasoning is based on "connecting the dots" regarding what he was doing, in Sudan, prior to his expulsion in 1996 and with whom he had business dealings.

Osama's Ongoing Connections to Khartoum

Osama's ongoing commercial and financial connections to the Sudan caught our attention as the US developed a broad campaign against international terrorism. There have been numerous recent investigative and synthesizing reports, reflecting research into court records, interviews with regional and terrorism experts, and a canvassing of publicly available documents. Of particular note are Osama's construction companies in Sudan, their role in developing the key road from Khartoum to Port Sudan, and the related commercial enterprises that continue to fund the al-Qaeda terrorists.

One of Osama's businesses was the Hijra Construction Company in Sudan, which built roads and bridges and bought explosives to clear the way, according to testimony at the U.S. Embassy bombing trials. Bin Laden's Taba Investments fund, also of Sudan, was used to change Sudanese currency into dollars and British pounds.

It is essential to recognize that bin Laden's financial presence in Sudan continues in many forms, primarily agriculture (including gum arabic), banking, and construction. Osama and al-Qaida also ran the Blessed Fruits farming business, growing peanuts, fruit, sesame, white corn, sunflowers and wheat, according to [court] testimony.” But Osama’s most important legacy is certainly the vast reconstruction of the road from Khartoum to Port Sudan. This formerly narrow, winding, and lengthy road was shortened by a third (from 1200 to 800 kilometers), leveled, expanded, and made into the natural construction route and platform for the oil pipeline that would soon be built by Talisman Energy, China National Petroleum Corp., and Petronas of Malaysia.

Osama's Connections to China

In the building of the Khartoum-Port Sudan road, the foreign labor was primarily Chinese, the pipeline construction project was funded by all three companies of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company. All are thus the beneficiaries of bin Laden's construction efforts---and all have, in turn, indirectly funded his terrorist operations via the oil revenues flowing to Khartoum.

Certainly Sudan's reputation as a terrorist-sponsoring nation was well known to all these companies. It is thus especially striking that the Government of Canada would have allowed Talisman Energy to engage in a commercial project in Sudan, given the conditions that obtained when Talisman entered the country in 1998. Not only was the country wracked by massively destructive, ongoing civil war, but Talisman’s entrance came just one year after the US imposed comprehensive sanctions on Sudan, primarily for its role in sponsoring international terrorism. Their entrance also came very shortly after the terrorist bombings of the two US embassies in August 1998. The recently concluded trial for these acts of terrorism has clearly indicated the responsibility of bin Laden and his terrorist network al-Qaeda. Talisman Energy and the Government of Canada must certainly have had considerable knowledge of bin Laden’s, and thus Sudan’s, role in the embassy bombings when Talisman officially entered Sudan in October 1998.

How did Osama probably get to the Sudan?

ASEC concludes that Osama got to Sudan via the sea; first by fishing boat from Pasni, Pakistan, along the Makran coastal range; likely by Chinese submarine after a GPS rendezvous in the Arabian Sea 50 miles off the coast of Pakistan.  The Chinese diesel class sub traveled submerged past the coasts of Oman and Yemen; and, dropped Osama (and his body guards) off near the island of Perim,Yemen, at the mouth of the Red Sea. From there Osama took another boat ride to Port Sudan where he traveled, by the same road he helped build, to the Nile river just north of Khartoum. There, we believe Osama resided in a waterside villa on the North Nile.  While the road to Port Sudan is guarded by Chinese military, we believe that Osama was being protected by Chinese secret service agents who were also assigned to the China National Petroleum project in Sudan.

Why the Chinese would take such risks moving a suspected terrorist and world criminal is not too difficult a jump in our estimation process; China currenty buys 60% of the entire production of arab controlled Sudanese oil.  ASEC believes that Osama may have brokered a China-Sudan oil deal prior to Osama's involvement in the building of the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway--oil, likely at prices too good for China to pass up.

"It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."
Joseph Campbell   (1904-1987)