Bin Laden Dead

May 2, 2011

The architect behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Obama said Sunday in a late-night statement at the White House.

Osama Bin Laden was probably born in 1957. He was number 17 of 57 children to a father who made his fortune in the Saudi Arabia construction industry.  It is believed that the young bin Laden got his penchant for radical Islamist ideology at his university,  King Abdul-Aziz University, in Jeddah. This is where bin Laden was exposed to Islamist thinkers.

Bin Laden was influenced by the Sunni reformist movements of Deobandi and Salafi. Going forward, Bin Laden and his followers were bolstered by a genuine belief that they were reformulating the global order.

Bin Laden’s personal brand of Islamist ideology encouraged reconsideration of earlier Islamic religious positions. Among the goals of bin Laden were the defense and preservation of Sunni norms and law. Defensive arguments within bin Laden’s Salafi movement, often referred to as jihad, are often accompanied by an unusual degree of openness to departures from past Islamic analysis and understanding. These departures include a call for a more rigid conservatism while promoting a militant vision and culture unheard-of in classical Islam.

The Salafi and Deobandi movements are typically spread through schools run by religious teachers who have little knowledge of or appreciation for traditional Islam. The chief task of these teachers is to promote a jihadist vision that is global in scope, intolerant of competing with other Sunni doctrines, and fanatically anti-Shi’a. A main goal of Salafi and Deobandi schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan is having their pupils spread this form of Islam world-wide.

U.S. intelligence tracked the al Qaeda leader to a 3,000 square foot, custom built compound with high walls and two security gates. The compound is near the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. Bin Laden’s movements were monitored for months until President Obama decided that there was enough evidence for the U.S. military to act.

U.S. operatives moved on the compound early Monday local time. Helicopters descended on the fortified compound in Abbottabad, and a small contingent of the U.S. Navy Seals killed bin Laden in a raid.

President Obama announced the news at the White House. He called the death of bin Laden “the most significant achievement to date” in the war against al Qaeda.

“After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body,” the president said, warning that the U.S. must remain vigilant because al Qaeda will “continue to pursue attacks against us.”

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