Osama bin Laden (1957–2011) was the founder of al-Qaeda, a militant Islamist group, and the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Born to a wealthy Saudi Arabian family, bin Laden organized al-Qaeda in opposition to the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Following the Afghan War and Soviet withdrawal, al-Qaeda continued to exist as an anti-Western organization. Bin Laden worked at building a large but loose network of militant supporters. In 1998, bin Laden organized the al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden was also involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda carried out bin Laden’s plans for a major attack on the United States. After the September 11 attacks Bin Laden went into hiding, emerging occasionally to issue anti-US messages to his supporters. He managed to evade US forces for nearly ten years. On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

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