Timeline: Life and Death of Osama bin Laden

May 2, 2011

(Osama bin Laden speaks in this still image taken from video released on a website September 7, 2007. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a mansion outside the Pakistani capital Islamabad, a U.S. source said on May 1, 2011/Reuters TV)

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan and his body was recovered, President Barack Obama announced on Monday.

Here is a timeline of major events in bin Laden’s life.

1957 – Osama bin Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden born in Riyadh, one of more than 50 children of millionaire businessman. There are conflicting accounts of his precise date of birth.

1976 – Studies management and economics at university in Jeddah.

Dec 26, 1979 – Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. From 1984, bin Laden is involved in Peshawar-based Services Office to support Arab volunteers arriving to fight Soviet forces.

1986 – Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, begins importing arms and forms his own small brigade of volunteer fighters.

1988 – Al Qaeda (The Base) is established as a magnet for radical Muslims seeking a more fundamentalist brand of government in their home countries and joined in common hatred of the United States, Israel and U.S.-allied Muslim governments.

1991 – Bin Laden leaves Saudi Arabia and goes into exile, having opposed the kingdom’s alliance with U.S. against Iraq.

June 1993 – Bin Laden family moves to expel Osama as shareholder in its businesses, which focus on construction.

April 9, 1994 – Saudi Arabia, angered by bin Laden’s propaganda against its rulers, revokes his citizenship.

May 1996 – Bin Laden is forced to leave Sudan after U.S. pressure on its government, and goes to Afghanistan.

(The World Trade Center south tower (L) bursts into flames after being struck by hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, as the north tower burns following an earlier attack, in New York City on September 11, 2001/Sean Adair)

August 1996 – Bin Laden issues a fatwa, or religious decree, that U.S. military personnel should be killed.

October 1996 – U.S. brands bin Laden as a prime suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia which killed 24 U.S. servicemen and two Indians.

August 7, 1998 – Truck bombs explode at U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killing 224, including 12 Americans. U.S. later accuses bin Laden of masterminding the bombings. President Bill Clinton orders cruise missile strikes.

October 12, 2000 – Al Qaeda strikes at destroyer USS Cole, harbored at Yemeni port of Aden. 17 sailors are killed.

September 11, 2001 – Three hijacked planes crash into major U.S. landmarks, destroying New York’s World Trade Center and plunging into Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed. In a video released later, bin Laden says collapse of towers exceeded al Qaeda’s expectations.

September 17, 2001 – U.S. President George W. Bush says bin Laden is “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

October 7, 2001 – United States attacks Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, host to bin Laden and al Qaeda.

December 6, 2001 – Anti-Taliban forces capture bin Laden’s main base in Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

December 26, 2001 – Bin Laden says on a video that the 9/11 suicide attacks were intended to stop U.S. support for Israel.

September 10, 2002 – Al-Jazeera broadcasts what it says is the voice of bin Laden praising the 9/11 hijackers as men who “changed the course of history.”

November 2002 – Al Qaeda claims responsibility for three suicide car bombs which blew up the Mombasa Paradise resort hotel full of Israelis, killing 15 other people and wounding 80.

October 2004 – Bin Laden bursts into the U.S. election campaign in his first videotaped message in over a year to deride Bush.

January 2006 – Bin Laden’s first public message for over a year is a bid to show he is still in command of al Qaeda.

September 2006 – Bush vows “America will find you.”

September 2007 – Bin Laden issues first new video for nearly three years, telling U.S. it is vulnerable despite its power.

May 18, 2008 – Bin Laden urges Muslims to break the Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and fight Arab governments that deal with Israel.

(Police stand near a wanted poster of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, printed by a New York newspaper, in New York on September 18, 2001/Russell Boyce)

January 24, 2010 – Bin Laden claims responsibility for the failed December 25 bombing of a U.S.-bound plane in an audio tape and vows to continue attacks on the United States.

January 26, 2010 – U.S. President Barack Obama says that al Qaeda has been weakened by U.S. actions.

March 25, 2010 – Bin Laden threatens al Qaeda will kill any Americans it takes prisoner if accused September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, held by United States, is put to death, according to an audiotape aired on al Jazeera.

January 21, 2011 – Bin Laden says in an audio recording that the release of French hostages held in Niger by al Qaeda depends on France’s soldiers leaving Muslim lands.

May 1, 2011 – Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan and his body has been recovered by U.S. authorities, Obama says.


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