According to Taliban senior commander Mullah Dadullah, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is actively orchestrating terrorist operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Praise God he is alive," Dadullah told Al Jazeera television. "Do you remember the martyrdom operation inside the Bagram base which targeted a senior American official [a reference to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney] ... [T]his operation was the result of blessed plans put by him [bin Laden]. He guided us through it." The February 27th attack killed 14 people at the U.S. Bagram base during Cheney's visit to Afghanistan.

"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God."

These are the words of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind and financier of some of the most barbaric acts of terrorism in living memory. Born in 1957 in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden is one of 53 children of the Saudi construction tycoon Muhamad Awad bin Laden, who moved to Saudi Arabia from Yemen and set up a number of successful construction and contracting ventures and amassed a fortune of nearly $5 billion. Of this sum, Osama bin Laden is believed to have inherited as much as $300 million when his father died in the 1960s.

When the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, bin Laden proclaimed that it was the duty of all Muslims to fight against the Soviets. From that point forward, he became increasingly affiliated with Muslim extremist groups such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Starting in the mid-1980s, bin Laden began to establish training camps in Afghanistan, initially for the war against the Soviets, but later to fight against other targets worldwide. He attracted thousands of recruits from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Sudan.

Using his family's fortune, bin Laden provided support and training for the mujahedeen, or "freedom fighters," who were seeking to repel the Soviet invaders. He formed a group called Maktab al-Khidimat, which was composed of Muslim...

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