Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, also rendered Usama bin Ladin, was a founder of the pan-Islamic militant organization al-Qaeda, and its first General Emir.
Born as Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Ladin on 10 March 1957, he was a Saudi Arabian citizen until 1994 (stateless thereafter) and a member of the wealthy bin Laden family.
Osama bin Laden’s full name, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, means “Osama, son of Mohammed, son of Awad, son of Laden”. “Mohammed” refers to bin Laden’s father Mohammed bin Laden; “Awad” refers to his grandfather, Awad bin Aboud bin Laden, a Kindite Hadhrami tribesman; “Laden” refers not to bin Laden’s great-grandfather, who was named Aboud, but to Aboud’s father, Laden Ali al-Qahtani.
Bin Laden’s father was Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire from Hadhramaut, Yemen, and the founder of the construction company, Saudi Binladin Group. His mother, Alia Ghanem, was from a secular middle-class family based in Latakia, Syria.
Bin Laden was raised as a devout Sunni Muslim.
From 1968 to 1976, he attended the élite secular Al-Thager Model School. He studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University. Some reports suggest he earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. bin Laden was an attendant at an English-language course in Oxford, England during 1971. One source described him as “hard working”; another said he left university during his third year without completing a college degree
Later he joined Mujahideen forces in Pakistan fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He helped to fund the Mujahideen by funnelling arms, money and fighters from the Arab world into Afghanistan, and gained popularity among many Arabs.
In 1988, he formed al-Qaeda.
He was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992, and shifted his base to Sudan, until U.S. pressure forced him to leave Sudan in 1996.
After establishing a new base in Afghanistan, he declared a war against the United States, initiating a series of bombings and related attacks.
Bin Laden was on the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) lists of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists for his involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings.
Bin Laden is most well known for his role in masterminding the September 11 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 and prompted the United States to initiate the War on Terror.
He subsequently became the subject of a decade-long international manhunt. From 2001 to 2011, bin Laden was a major target of the United States, as the FBI offered a $25 million bounty in their search for him.
On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was shot and killed by US Navy SEALs inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, where he lived with a local family from Waziristan. The covert operation was conducted by members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (SEAL Team Six) and Central Intelligence Agency SAD/SOG operators on the orders of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Under his leadership, the al-Qaeda organization was responsible for, in addition to the September 11 attacks in the United States, many other mass-casualty attacks worldwide.
His known spouses were Najwa Ghanhem (1974–before September 11, 2001) whom he married at the age of 17; Khadijah Sharif (1983–1990s); Khairiah Sabar (1985–2011); Siham Sabar (1987–2011); Amal Ahmed al-Sadah (2000–2011).
He is reported to have fathered 20-26 children including Abdallah, Saad, Omar and Hamza.