Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden born March 10, 1957 is a member of the prominent Saudi bin Laden family and the founder of the Islamic extremist organization al-Qaeda, most widely recognized for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. As a result of his dealings in violent, extremist jihad, Osama bin Laden lost his Saudi citizenship and was disowned by his wealthy Saudi Arabian family. Bin Laden is on the American Federal Bureau of Investigation's list of FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives due to several 1998 US embassy bombings.
Since 2001, Osama bin Laden and his organization have been major targets of the U.S. War on Terror. Bin Laden and fellow al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In a 1998 interview, he gave his birth date as March 10, 1957. His father Muhammed Awad bin Laden was a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Osama bin Laden was born the only son of Muhammed bin Laden's tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas. Osama's parents divorced soon after he was born; Osama's mother then married Muhammad al-Attas. The couple had four children, and Osama lived in the new household with three half-brothers and one half-sister.
Bin Laden was raised as a devout Wahhabi Muslim. From 1968 to 1976 he attended the "élite" secular Al-Thager Model School. Bin Laden studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University. Some reports suggest bin Laden earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Other sources describe him as having left university during his third year, never completing a college degree, though "hard working." At university, bin Laden's main interest was religion, where he was involved in both "interpreting the Quran and jihad" and charitable work. He also writes poetry.
In 1974, at the age of 17, bin Laden married his first wife Najwa Ghanem at Latakia. According to CNN national security correspondent David Ensore, as of 2002 bin Laden had married four women and fathered roughly 25 or 26 children. Other sources report that he has fathered anywhere from 12 to 24 children.
His father, Muhammed bin Laden, was killed in 1967 in an airplane crash in Saudi Arabia when his American pilot misjudged a landing. His eldest stepbrother and head of the bin Laden family, Salem bin Laden, was killed in 1988 when he accidentally flew a plane into powerlines near San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Bin Laden believes that the restoration of Sharia law will set things right in the Muslim world, and that all other ideologies—"pan-Arabism, socialism, communism, democracy"—must be opposed. These beliefs, along with violent expansive jihad, have sometimes been called Qutbism. He believes Afghanistan under the rule of Mullah Omar's Taliban was "the only Islamic country" in the Muslim world. Bin Laden has consistently dwelt on the need for violent jihad to right what he believes are injustices against Muslims perpetrated by the United States and sometimes by other non-Muslim states, the need to eliminate the state of Israel, and the necessity of forcing the US to withdraw from the Middle East. He has also called on Americans to "reject the immoral acts of fornication (and) homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury," in an October 2002 letter.
Probably the most infamous part of Bin Laden's ideology is that civilians, including women and children, are legitimate targets of jihad. Bin Laden is antisemitic, and has delivered warnings against alleged Jewish conspiracies: "These Jews are masters of usury and leaders in treachery. They will leave you nothing, either in this world or the next." Shia Muslims have been listed along with "Heretics,... America and Israel," as the four principal "enemies of Islam" at ideology classes of bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization.
In keeping with Wahhabi beliefs, bin Laden opposes music on religious grounds, and his attitude towards technology is mixed. He is interested in "earth-moving machinery and genetic engineering of plants" on the one hand, but rejects "chilled water" on the other.
His viewpoints and methods of achieving them have led to him been designated as a "terrorist" by scholars, journalists from the New York Times, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Qatari news station Al Jazeera, analysts such as Peter Bergen, Michael Scheuer, Marc Sageman, and Bruce Hoffman and he was indicted on terrorism charges by law enforcement agencies in Madrid, New York City, and Tripoli.