Essay: Osama bin Laden

Introduction
Osama bin Laden was born in 1957 and was the seventh son and seventeenth child of Mohammed Awad bin Laden, a billionaire in the construction industry. (History.com 2009). The family company worked closely with the Saudi royal family and bin Laden grew up amongst the Saudi princes. Osama bin Laden was the only bin Laden child who did not study overseas, and thus he subsequently lacked exposure to the Western culture. Bin Laden was educated in Wahhabism, which is an anti-American type of Islam. Bin Laden later qualified as a civil engineer in an attempt to join the family business. (Biography.com 2015).
Islamic fundamentalism developed in the Middle East in the 1980s as a reaction towards the invasion and intervention of the USSR in Afghanistan. Fundamentalism was adopted in order to make the disapproval of foreign occupation in the Middle East known. Fundamentalists are radicals who adopt a viewpoint and adhere strictly to it. Fundamentalists integrate Allah into all aspects of their lives and have a higher regard for the rules of Allah than the law. (Stephenson 2013). Fundamentalists generally believe that men are dominant and are responsible for decision-making, while women must be supportive wives, mothers and house cleaners.
The September 11, 2001 attacks make it difficult for one to believe that Osama bin Laden and the United States of America were once on the same side, fighting against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. When the founder of al-Qaeda turned against the USA, the result was a series of terrorist attacks against the USA. When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the USA supported Afghanistan Islamic fundamentalists (the mujahideen) to resist the invasion. Bin Laden was amongst these fundamentalists who received military equipment and machinery from the USA. However, when the Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan in 1989, bin Laden and his newly-formed Islamic fundamentalist group, Al-Qaeda (which translates as ‘the base’), began to develop an enmity towards the USA. After the events that followed, bin Laden fled to Afghanistan in 1996, where the Taliban provided him with a military base in order to train al-Qaeda members. The Taliban, at this time, were also groups of mujahideen fighters, who resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Taliban means ‘the students’ and in 1996, the Taliban successfully seized Afghanistan from the president at the time, Burhanuddin Rabbani. With aid from the Taliban, bin Laden declared a jihad or holy war against the USA, upon which he called all Muslims to kill any American person that they encountered.
Between 1979 and 1996, the USA intervened in the affairs of many countries in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. As a consequence, many Muslim people died in these Middle Eastern countries. The extent to which the USA’s intervention in the Middle East resulted in bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the USA will be evaluated by: firstly, analysing the events that led to bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the USA; secondly, evaluating the role that bin Laden’s Islamic fundamentalist ideas played in his declaration of jihad; and thirdly, comparing the reasons given as to why bin Laden declared jihad against the USA.

Review of literature

Literature Review Source 1
Reed, J.B. & Lange, B. 2003. Friend or Foe: The future of Saudi Arabia. In: Marcott, L. (ed.), The Saudi Royal Family (Modern World Leaders). New York: Chelsea House Publishers, pp. 89-97.
The chapter in this book provided detailed information about the alliance between the United States of America and the Saudi royal family in the Middle East. Furthermore, information was provided about terrorist organisations in Saudi Arabia, and about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in particular. The author explains that in the Islamic religion, hereditary power in the ruling of a country is forbidden. Thus, some Saudi citizens believe that democratic elections should be held in Saudi Arabia as opposed to the current monarchical state. Furthermore, the author elucidates that the Saudi citizens are beginning to acknowledge the corruption and illegal activities of the Saudi royal family. The chapter concludes that Osama bin Laden wishes to overthrow the Saudi government and was angered by the US intervention in Saudi Arabia, which led him to declare jihad against the USA. The author argues that the USA intervened in Saudi Arabia in order to continually receive oil supplies at low prices, and similarly, the Saudi royal family formed an alliance with the USA in order to ensure protection from US troops. The information provided by this source relates directly to my research, as it provides a contributing explanation which caused Osama bin Laden to declare jihad against the United States of America. The chapter is also relevant as it provided insight about America’s involvement in Saudi Arabia, and thus enabled me to place my research in context.
The information provided by the source is cited and referenced throughout, and the author’s claims are supported by evidence. The source is therefore valid. The source provides factual information and the source is accurate. This information relates to information in Source 4. Both sources convey that Osama bin Laden was infuriated by the USA’s intervention in Saudi Arabia during the crisis in the Gulf. The source is therefore reliable. The author, Jennifer Reed, has a B.A. in English which she obtained from Vermount College of Fine Art. Reed was also the editor of the US Navy’s newspaper. The co-author, Brenda Lange, is an active journalist and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. The source is subsequently biased, as it is written from an American perspective, and the reliability of the source therefore decreases, yet the decrease in reliability is minimal. The purpose of the source is to convey information about the relationship between the Saudi royal family and the USA. The book was published in 2003. The source is written objectively, as the author acknowledges the involvement of the both US government and the Muslim citizens. The validity and reliability of the source therefore increases substantially.
The source is useful to my research, as it provides me with information from an American perspective. Furthermore, the source is valid and mostly reliable, and is therefore useful to my research. The source is limited in two ways: it contains bias; and the book was published in 2003, therefore new information or revelations that have been discovered in the last twelve years would not be included.
Literature review Source 2
The Guardian, (2002). Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver [Accessed 20 Jun. 2015].
This source is a translated letter from Osama bin Laden that was posted on a Saudi Arabian website which was previously used by al-Qaeda to circulate messages. In the letter, bin Laden explains exactly why Al Qaeda is fighting and opposing the United States of America. The reasons that are given include: the Jews have no historical right to Palestine, yet the Americans support Israel; the USA attacked Muslims in Somalia and supported the oppression of Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir and Lebanon; the US uses military threats and its international influence to steal wealth and oil from the Middle East; US forces occupy sacred countries in the Middle East; the killing of Muslims in Japan, Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon and most recently in Afghanistan; and lastly, the fact that the USA is a dishonourable nation and does not follow the teachings of Allah. The letter also highlights US corruption and influence on other nations for their own benefit, as well as indicates the terms that Osama bin Laden has set out for the United States of America, in order for the jihad to end. This information directly relates to my research, as it provides details about why Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the USA. Furthermore, the source provides information from bin Laden’s perspective, and is subsequently relevant to my research.
The author does not use evidence to support his claims and the source contains factually inaccurate information. The source is subsequently invalid. The information in this source suggests that the USA is solely to blame for stealing oil and wealth in the Middle East, yet the source does not acknowledge the involvement of the Saudi royal family. The source thus provides conflicting information with Source 1 and the validity and reliability of the source therefore decreases. The letter was written by Osama bin Laden and was posted on an Arabian website that was previously used by Al-Qaeda to circulate messages. The source therefore contains biased information and the reliability of the source substantially decreases. The purpose of the letter was to convey a propagandist message to Al-Qaeda members. The source does not contain a specific date of publication, therefore the validity of the source decreases. The source contains propaganda, lacks objectivity and contains emotionalism, therefore the source is biased. Furthermore, the source is unreliable.
However, the source is useful to my research, as it allows me to place my research into perspective, as well as to analyse the factors involved in Osama bin Laden declaring jihad, and to what extent each factor caused bin Laden to make his declaration. Furthermore, the letter is useful, as it conveys Osama bin Laden’s viewpoint. The source is limited, as it is biased. The source is also limited as it was translated from Arabic to English, and misinterpretations could have thus occurred in the translation of the source. Furthermore, the source is limited as sections of the letter may have been censored by the newspaper during editing.
Literature Review Source 3
Milton-Edwards, B. 2005. Islamic Fundamentalism Since 1945, New York: Routledge. pp. 42-117.
Milton-Edward’s book explains that US foreign policy focused on the Muslim states and elites rather than the Islamic religion. The author maintains that that intervention from the USA and USSR in the economic and political systems, as well as cultures in Afghanistan led to Muslim hostility, as they felt a need to defend their religion. Furthermore, the US policy towards the Muslim world showed the deep-routed US opposition towards the Muslim people. Milton-Edwards explains that the USA supported Islamic Fundamentalists/ the mujahideen in Afghanistan and supplied them with money and military equipment to aid them in resisting the Soviet invasion. However, the author is critical of the fact that the Americans were more concerned with the Cold War and didn’t acknowledge the implications of supporting and funding fundamentalists who opposed communism, as well as western capitalism. Milton-Edwards concludes that this is how the roots of al-Qaeda grew. The information of this source directly relates to my research. An in-depth insight is given with regard to the events that took place in Afghanistan, as well as the involvement that the USA played in essentially supporting fundamentalism. The source also relates to my research, as the aggression of the US policy in the Middle East is provided as a contributing factor that played a role in bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the US. The source is therefore relevant to my research.
The source contains citations and references and can thus be considered to b a valid source. The source contains factual information and the source is therefore accurate. The information in this source relates to the information in source 5, as both sources maintain that the USA supplied weapons to the mujahideen in order to assist Afghanistan in resisting the Soviet invasion. The source is therefore reliable. The author of the book, Beverly Milton-Edwards, is a Professor of Politics at Queen’s University and has a PhD, which she acquired from Exeter University in the United Kingdom. The source is written externally and is subsequently objective, and the reliability of the source thus increases. The purpose of the source is to convey information regarding the USA’s involvement in Afghanistan. The source is objective, as it conveys information that is critical towards the USA USSR. Furthermore, the source does not contain emotionalism and is factual, therefore it can be concluded that the source is reliable and valid.
The source is of value to my research, as it provides objective information about the USA’s involvement in Afghanistan. However, the source is limited as it was written in 2005, which indicates that any new information in the last nine years would be excluded.
Literature Review Source 4
United States Air Force Counterproliferation Centre, 2002. Killing in the name of God: Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda [pdf] Available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/post.pdf [Accessed 29 January 2015].
This document by Dr J. Post states that members of al-Qaeda are psychologically ‘normal’ and evidence, such as interviews with various al-Qaeda members, is given to substantiate this statement. Post maintains that al-Qaeda members are not emotionally disturbed, as emotionally disturbed people would be a security risk to al-Qaeda. The document explains that the USA had a military base in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf crisis in the 1990s. This US intervention in Saudi Arabia angered Osama bin Laden, as he viewed the US troops to be infidels on holy soil. The document concludes that bin Laden’s enmity was transferred from the Soviets, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to the Americans. The document also acknowledges that although the leaders in the Middle East were corrupt and needed to be replaced, bin Laden focused on America as his prime enemy. This source relates directly to my research, as it provides a contributing explanation as to why Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the USA.
The author of the document, Dr Jerrold Post is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Dr J. Post was previously a member of the Central Intelligence Agency for twenty-one years, and he thereafter moved to Washington. The information relayed by the source is not cited, nor is it referenced, and the validity of the source therefore decreases. The information relayed by Dr J. Post is based on studies and research, as well as Dr Post’s medical knowledge and the information can be considered to be accurate. This source conveys that the US intervention in Saudi Arabia angered bin Laden, which is similarly conveyed in Source 1. The reliability and validity of the source therefore increases. The purpose of the source is to provide academic information that is substantiated by research. Furthermore, the author has medical credentials that would enable him to write reliable information. However, the source is published by the US Air Force, and the source subsequently contains information subjective to USA. The validity and reliability of the source therefore decreases substantially.
The source is useful to my research, as it provides information from an American perspective. The source is limited, as it was written in 2002, therefore any new information would be lacking. The source is valid, as it contains accurate information that is corroborated, and the author has credentials that would more likely enable him to write valid information.
Literature Review Source 5
Hanks, T. (Producer), & Nichols, M. (Director). 2007. Charlie Wilson’s War[DVD]. United States of America: Universal Pictures. 102 mins.
The film is set in the 1980s and portrays how US Congressman Charlie Wilson and his colleagues drastically increased US funding to assist the Afghanistan people in their fight against invading Soviet troops. The film essentially portrays how the USA supplied weapons and training to the mujahideen warriors. The film also shows how the US used Pakistan leaders to generate and carry out policies regarding Afghanistan. The film furthermore explains that due to the Cold War which was happening at the time, the US did not openly involve itself in Afghanistan and the US also went to the extent of supplying the mujahedeen warriors with weapons that were made by the Soviets. Furthermore, the film implies that if the USA had not covertly involved itself in aiding the mujahideen warriors to fight the Soviets, an actual war would have surely developed between the USA and USSR. However, when the Soviets eventually withdrew their troops from Afghanistan, Wilson learned that there were consequences to supplying a nation with military means and thereafter not assisting that nation in rebuilding itself after the war. This source indirectly relates to my research, as it provided information about the role that the USA played in Afghanistan. Therefore, the relevance of this source is to a lesser extent. However, this source allows me to place my research in context and is thus relevant to my research.
The information of the film is partly accurate, as the film relays a story, rather than factual information. This source relates to Source 3 (Islamic Fundamentalism Since 1945), as both sources maintain that the USA supported the mujahedeen which consisted of Islamic fundamentalists, yet the USA did not fully understand the consequences of supporting these extremists at the time. The reliability of the source therefore increases. The producer, Tom Hanks, is American. The film is subsequently portrayed from an American perspective and is thus subjective to the USA. The purpose of the film is to relay a story from an American perspective. The reliability and validity of the film therefore substantially decreases.
This source is useful to my research, as it provides information from an American perspective. Furthermore, this source is valuable to my research, as it allows me to place my research in context. However, the film is limited, as the director makes use of filming techniques such as sounds, camera angles and the plot in order to manipulate the audience. The film essentially makes use of techniques that are in favour of the USA and thus, and is thus bias towards the USA.

Process of findings
By December 1979, Soviet troops had invaded Afghanistan, as the USSR believed that its borders should have Soviet-friendly leaders in order to ensure that no possible threats could arise on its borders. At the same time, the Cold War was still ongoing between the USA and USSR. In an attempt to prevent further Soviet occupation, the USA covertly supplied money and military equipment to Afghanistan. It did this through Pakistan leaders who formulated, as well as carried out US policies in Afghanistan. (Hanks 2007). Many Muslim citizens in Afghanistan felt the need to resist the Soviet invasion. These citizens strongly believed in Islamic principles and integrated Islam is all aspects of their lives. These Islamic fundamentalists became known as the mujahideen or holy warriors. They received military equipment and training from the USA and Saudi Arabia in order to resist the Soviet invasion. The mujahideen’s main goal was to end foreign occupation in Afghanistan, as well as to establish their own Islamic state. (Sinclair 2003). At this time, in 1979, Osama bin Laden was attending University and was involved with a radical Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, where a scholar, Abdullah Azzam, influenced bin Laden. (Zernike 2011). Azzam taught bin Laden that it was the responsibility of all Muslims to partake in jihad, until all Islamic lands were reclaimed. Bin Laden joined the mujahideen in resisting the Soviets and played a major role in bringing about the resistance. Bin Laden relocated to Afghanistan and used CIA aid and funding to train mujahideen warriors. (Biography.com, 2015).
When the Afghanistan resistance towards the Soviets began to decrease, bin Laden formed alliances with radical Islamist groups in other countries, including Egypt, and thus al-Qaeda was formed in 1988 (refer to Appendix A). Al-Qaeda was essentially formed to extend the jihad beyond Afghanistan, and the group’s main principle was to use any measures that were necessary to expel foreign occupation in the Middle East in order to maintain pure Islamic states. Eventually, in February 1989, the USSR withdrew their troops from Afghanistan and more than a million Afghanistan people had died. This essentially led the mujahideen warriors to believe that through jihad and Allah, they were able to remove the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Furthermore, the mujahideen gained confidence in defeating a superpower and thus believed that they could end any foreign occupation in Islamic lands. Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia when the Afghanistan war was over. However, at the end of the Afghanistan war, both the USA and USSR underestimated the effects of supporting Islamic fundamentalists who not only opposed the Soviets, but also opposed western capitalism. (Milton-Edwards 2005).
In Kuwait, there was an ordered invasion by Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein (refer to Appendix A). The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt feared that Hussein would attempt to invade their countries as well. Bin Laden volunteered men and equipment that he had previously used in Afghanistan to defend the Saudi Kingdom. (Zernike 2011). However, the Saudi royal family dismissed his offers and instead turned to the USA for assistance. Bin Laden was angered by the royal family’s actions in allowing Americans, whom he viewed as infidels, to intervene in the holy lands. US air forces carried out massive air attacks on Iraqi troops in Kuwait, which formed the beginning of the Gulf War. After 42 days of relentless combat, a ceasefire was declared and the war ended.
This point was essentially the turning point, where bin Laden developed resentment towards the USA. Osama bin Laden gave numerous speeches whereby he accused the Saudi government of being corrupt and of not being truly Islamic. Subsequently, in 1991, Osama bin Laden was placed under house arrest and in 1992 he went into exile. In 1994 the Saudi royal family took away bin Laden’s citizenship, and froze his assets. Bin Laden thereafter settled in Sudan, where he initiated training camps for al-Qaeda members and set up his own businesses in order to provide funding for al-Qaeda. However, due to pressure from the Saudi government, bin Laden was forced to flee Sudan in 1996. Bin Laden eventually relocated to Afghanistan, where the Taliban offered him a military base in exchange for money that would be used to fund their fighters. It was then that bin Laden declared jihad against the USA in 1996 (refer to Appendix A).
In Lebanon, the USA deployed troops to maintain peace in the country after the Israeli invasion (refer to Appendix B). Subsequently, the US marine barracks were bombed in 1983 killing 241 US soldiers (refer to Appendix B).The USA thereafter withdrew its troops from Lebanon. The USA also mistakenly shot down an Iranian passenger flight over the Gulf killing 290 people (refer to Appendix B). At the time, the Iraq-Iran war was raging and the USA provided support for Iraq. The US thereafter launched a missile attack on Iraq, after learning that Hussein had plotted to assassinate former President Bush (refer to Appendix B). In 1996 the US led sanctions on Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of over 4,500 children per month (refer to Appendix B).
The trading of oil continued from the Middle East, at a low price, to the USA. This forms part of the reason as to why the USA intervened in the Middle Eastern countries. The USA basically wished to secure their oil supply with the Middle East. However, the USA’s oil motives in intervening in the USA led Osama bin Laden to believe that the USA was corrupt, and he viewed the USA as infidels interfering in sacred lands. (Post, 2002). The USA’s intervention in the Middle Eastern countries resulted in the deaths of many Muslims, as well as American troops, and played a significant role in Osama bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the USA. Bin Laden essentially wished to rid these sacred lands of all foreign intervention, and thus, he declared jihad against the USA.
The countries in the Middle East possess geopolitical importance, as they contain energy sources and transport routes. The authoritarian leaders of these Middle-Eastern countries are mostly corrupt and willing to form alliances with the USA to benefit themselves rather than the citizens of their countries. (Reed 2003). Therefore, the USA’s long-term intervention in the Middle East is both political and economic. However, over time many Muslims in the Middle East have been offended with the corrupt governments and their willingness to allow infidels into the holy lands. (Reed 2003). The US foreign policy has also played a role in angering these Muslims, as its policies support the dictators in the Middle East, yet essentially do not take the Islamic religion into consideration. (Fuller 2010).
Osama bin Laden’s Islamic fundamentalism played a role in his declaration of jihad against the USA. Bin Laden believed that Americans were essentially hypocritical, as the US government preaches about world peace, yet the government itself is filled with corruption. (Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’, 2002). Much of bin Laden’s fundamentalism was influenced by the Islamic radical group, the Muslim Brotherhood, with which he was involved while attending university. Bin Laden strongly believed in the ideals of Islamic fundamentalism, and he especially believed that there should be no separation between Islam and the government. (History.com, 2009). Islam was incorporated into every aspect of Osama bin Laden’s life.
However, attacks that were carried out by al-Qaeda on the USA were not motivated by America’s liberty, democracy or religious beliefs. (Glain 2011). Although the US government is seen by these fundamentalists as corrupt, this does not form part of the reason as to why al-Qaeda attacked the USA. Studies conducted on al-Qaeda members, in fact, showed that these members were not emotionally disturbed, despite their radical fundamentalism. (Post, 2002). The reasons for the raging war or jihad are rather largely due to US intervention in the Muslim world and, in particular, US policy towards the Middle East. Therefore, Osama bin Laden’s fundamentalism did play a role in his declaration of jihad against the USA.
Bin Laden’s declaration of jihad was also motivated by the fact that the USA openly supported Israel. Bin Laden believed that the Jews had no historical right to Palestine, and that the Muslims were worthy of Palestine. (Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’, 2002). The US attacks on Muslims in Somalia and the support of Muslim oppression in Chechnya, Kashmir and Lebanon angered bin Laden further. Bin Laden particularly despised the alliances between the US government and the Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. (Post, 2002). Although these Middle-Eastern leaders are known to be corrupt and need to be overthrown, bin Laden believed that the USA is a greater enemy and needed to be dealt with first. (Post, 2002). The deaths of Muslim people in the Middle East, as a result of American intervention, essentially caused bin Laden to seek revenge and jihad was thus declared. Subsequently, the US intervention in these Middle-Eastern countries caused Osama bin Laden to declare jihad to a larger extent.
In 1996, Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the USA, calling for all Muslims to kill Americans and their allies. The term jihad, in Islam, is a widely controversial one. Jihad was defined originally by the Prophet as military efforts in which the main objective is the preservation of Islam. (Fuller 2010). Jihad is also referred to as a struggle. In the context of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, however, the term jihad has been used by al-Qaeda for their own purposes to carry out attacks on the USA. Furthermore, the term jihad has been abused by al-Qaeda and has been misinterpreted from its original meaning.
The terms to which this jihad against the USA will end, is stated by Osama bin Laden that: firstly, all US intervention in the Middle East must end; secondly, the US cannot intervene as al-Qaeda attempts to regain Palestine; thirdly, the Islam religion must be adopted by all Americans in every aspect of their lives, including the government; and lastly, must put an end to their oppression, lies, and immorality (Full text: bin Laden’s ‘letter to America’, 2002). Through an analysis of bin Laden’s requests of the USA, it can be concluded that US intervention in the Middle East forms a major factor of bin Laden’s declaration of jihad. However, bin Laden’s Islamic fundamentalism also forms part of the reason for his declaration of jihad, yet to a lesser extent, as eliminating foreign intervention in the Middle East was essentially Al-Qaeda’s main aim. (Sinclair, 2003).
The terms to which the jihad will end cannot in fact be met by the USA, as it would be impossible for every American citizen to convert to Islam. Subsequently, the jihad to date, is still ongoing has resulted in the loss of both American and Muslim lives. After years of attempts to track Osama bin Laden down, on May 11, 2011, a team of navy seals invaded his compound in Islamabad and killed him. Bin Laden was determined that if he should die, he would die a martyr’s death. Bin Laden told his supporters that if he died during the ongoing jihad, he believed that the Muslim world would rise up and defeat the USA. (Zernike 2011).

Conclusion
During the Afghanistan war in 1979 Osama bin Laden, along with many other Islamic fundamentalists, fought in coalition with the USA. When the Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan in 1989, resistance to Soviet occupation began to decrease and bin Laden subsequently formed Al-Qaeda in 1988. It was during this time that bin Laden and Al-Qaeda developed the ideals that it was necessary to expel foreign occupation in the Middle East. Both the USA and USSR intervened in Afghanistan in the context of the Cold War, yet neither country took the consequence of supporting mujahideen warriors into consideration (Milton-Edwards 2005).
In 1990, the Saudi royal family turned to the USA for assistance and protection. The royal family dismissed bin Laden’s offer of assistance, which angered bin Laden. The Gulf War broke out in 1990, killing thousands of Iraqis. American soldiers were also killed, yet few American soldiers were killed compared to the number of Iraqis who were killed. It was at this point that bin Laden developed an enmity towards the Saudi royal family, and the USA. However, bin Laden viewed the USA as a greater enemy.
The US had intervened in other Middle Eastern countries between 1979 and 1996, including Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. This had resulted in the deaths of thousands of Muslims. The USA wished to secure their oil trade with the Middle East, which formed part of their motives for intervening in these counties. However, the USA’s oil motives led Osama bin Laden to believe that the USA was corrupt and needed to be removed from the holy lands of the Middle East. (Post, 2002).
Bin Laden’s Islamic fundamentalism developed when he was studying at university and formed part of the reason as to why he declared jihad against the USA. Although bin Laden’s fundamentalism played a role in his declaration of jihad, bin Laden essentially did not attack the USA as a consequence of the USA’s difference in religious beliefs. The foundation of al-Qaeda’s attacks was rather due to US intervention in the Middle East. Furthermore, al-Qaeda’s main aim was to expel foreign intervention in the Middle East. Therefore, Osama bin Laden’s fundamentalism played a minor role in his declaration of jihad.
The USA’s open support for Israel forms part of bin Laden’s motives for declaring jihad against the USA. The US attacks of Muslims in Somalia and the US support in the injustices done to Muslims in Lebanon, Kashmir and Chechnya resulted in the deaths of Muslims and led Osama bin Laden to seek revenge against the USA. Furthermore, the alliances between the USA and the corrupt Middle Eastern leaders, such as the Saudi royal family, angered bin Laden.
In 1996, Osama bin Laden declared jihad against the USA. Although bin Laden antagonised the Saudi royal family, the USA was his prime enemy. The US intervention in the Middle East resulted in the deaths of many Muslims. Furthermore, US policy in the Middle East supported the corrupt Middle Eastern leaders and did not take the principles of the Muslim religion into consideration. Subsequently, Osama bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the USA was largely due to the USA’s intervention in the Middle East.
The major limitation of this research is that many of the sources relaying information were biased and therefore reliable to a lesser extent. Furthermore, there were very few objective sources. This research is also limited, as access to al-Qaeda archives are restricted, as well as made unavailable for public us.

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