History of Afghanistan, About Afghanistan,


Rich businessman of Saudi origin born in Riyadh in 1957 into a family of entrepreneurs closely related to the royal family. He studied religious sciences and engineering while taking part in the management of the family's affairs. His strong religious convictions led him to join some local Islamist groups in 1973 and to go to Afghanistan in 1979 after the beginning of the Soviet military intervention. He took part in the fight, set up training camps, armed and led Arab volunteers and financed their voyage (see Afghans). It was in Afghanistan that he created links with Islamist movements from all over the Muslim world.

After the retreat of the Soviets in 1988, he went back to Saudi Arabia where the criticisms he addressed to the government for having allowed the deployment of American troops on the Saudi ground, as well as the support he gave to Islamist armed groups abroad resulted in the withdrawal of his passport in 1992. As soon as this withdrawal was lifted, he settled in Sudan where he is said to have contributed to the financing of the Islamic National Front of Hassan al Tourabi. Saudi Arabia deprived him of his citizenship in 1994, as Cairo, Algiers and Sanaa accused him of continuing to finance subversive activities on their respective countries.

In 1996, he left Sudan (perhaps on the insistence of the Sudanese authorities which wished to distanciate themselves from accusations of support for terrorism to which they were subject). He reappeared in Afghanistan in May of the same year and began to launch fatwas (religious decrees) against the United States.

He is suspected of having financed and encouraged a series of bomb attacks committed over the last few years and in particular those perpetrated against the American embassies of Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam on 7 August 1998. He seems to be at the origin of different radical organizations: the International Islamic Front, the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places (which claimed the bomb attacks in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam) and the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. If all this is true, he would control an "army" of about 5,000 Muslim radicals operating in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines.

After the bombing of their embassies in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam in August 1998, the United States fired some hundred Cruise missiles at his guerilla bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. The missiles inflicted little lasting damage on the guerilla bases but made Bin Laden a hero in the Islamic world.

In spite of repeated American requests, the Taliban, now controlling most of Afghanistan, refused to hand over bin Laden to the United States saying that "it is not right to give a Muslim to an infidel country", although the United States were - with Saudi Arabia - one of the Taliban's biggest financial backers.

One year after the bombing of their embassies, the United States took some unilateral mesures against Afghanistan, freezing assets worth 500,000 $ of the Ariana airline and banning U.S. companies and individuals from doing business with Afghanistan. To no avail.

"These sanctions are in response to the Taliban's continuing provision of safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network", U.S. National Security Council spokesman David Leavy told reporters.

A few days before the first anniversary of the bombings in Dar-Es-Salaam and Nairobi, the Qatari satellite television station Al-Jazeerah TV announced that two U.S. military planes landed at airports in Pakistan on 9 August with dozens of commandos in apparent preparation for a strike against Osama bin Laden.

On 15 October 1999, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on Afghanistan if it did not hand over the Saudi dissident for trial. This resolution, drafted by the US with support from Russia (which suspects Bin Laden to finance Islamic rebels fighting their forces in Daghestan) imposes sanctions, scheduled to come into effect on 14 November. Under these sanctions, all bank accounts held by the Taliban abroad are to be frozen and flights by aircraft owned, leased or operated by the Taliban are to be banned, excepting humanitarian flights and flights allowing Afghan citizens to perform the religious pilgrimage to Mecca (to avoid breaches like those which happened when sanctions where imposed on Libya in the Lockerbie case).

Following the massive terrorist attacks of 11 September against US commercial and political targets (the New York World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania) suspicions are mostly directed at Osama Bin Laden and his network. Most believe that it takes an Osama Bin Laden to have the ultra radical ideological drive as well as the financial, logistic and human ressources to carry out such an operation. So far, neither Bin Laden nor anyone linked to him has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Taliban authorities have immediately condemned the terrorist actions and denied that Bin Laden, who is living on Afghan territory, could be involved. On 20 September 2001 a council of Afghan clerics issued a fatwa recommending Bin Laden to leave Afghanistan "in the proper time and of his own free will."

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