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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
Osama bin Laden: culture of terror

By Gunnery Sgt. M.A. Zeid | | September 21, 2001

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Hatred! Mention the name of Osama bin Laden and people's hearts fill with hatred. However, people's anger would be best tempered with a more complete picture of exactly who is Osama bin Laden. First and foremost, at the time of this report, Osama bin Laden is the primary suspect behind the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, although there in not enough evidence to conclusively prove that he was responsible or involved in the attacks. Furthermore, while Americans see bin Laden as a terrorist and is one of the CIA's most wanted men, many Muslims see him as a hero, someone who fought the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and opposes Western ideals and influence on Islamic values. To give an example, there are places in Pakistan where vendors sell T-shirts which claim bin Laden to be a great hero and Leader of the Islamic people. Additionally, he is an individual with great resources and extremely dedicated followers. Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1957. He was the 17th of 52 brothers, sisters, half brothers and half sisters. His father was a wealthy businessman who headed a $5 billion construction firm with close ties to the Saudi royal family. At one time, the bin Laden construction firm was the largest in the world. He was brought up in a strict Muslim family with fundamental Islamic values. His father often went on holy pilgrimages to Mecca and other religious sites in Saudi Arabia. It is believed that during these pilgrimages, bin Laden met many influential people who have helped him over the years. Yet, bin Laden didn't start out as a terrorist. He was brought up to work in the family business, and in fact he worked in it for quite a while. He graduated from King Abdul Aziz University in Jiddah with a degree in civil engineering. The same year he graduated from college, he went to Afghanistan to join the Afghan resistance (mujahedeen) right after the Soviet invasion. While his first visit to Afghanistan was short, he soon returned bringing bulldozers and money. He participated in several battles. In 1989, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia a hero. During his years in Afghanistan, he developed many of his current contacts within his terrorist organization. During the 1990s, bin Laden was linked to the following: the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which killed six people, the 1995 and 1996 bombings in Saudi Arabia which killed 22 American soldiers, the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa where 224 people were killed, and the attack on the USS Cole last year in Yemen where 17 American Sailors were killed. In an 1998 interview with ABC reporter John Miller, bin Laden made the following statements. "The American imposes himself on everyone. Americans accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorist - those children, who have no weapons and have not even reached maturity. At the same time, Americans defend a country, the state of the Jews, that has a policy to destroy the future of these children. We are sure of our victory against the Americans and the Jews as promised by the Prophet: Judgment day shall not come until the Muslim fights the Jew, where the Jew will hide behind trees and stones, and the tree and stone will speak and say, 'Muslim, behind me is a Jew. Come and kill him.'" These ideas are repeated in his "fatwa," or statements of justification for his actions. (Fatwa is an Islamic word meaning judgment based upon laws and religious practices.) His first goal is to get Americans out of Saudi Arabia, which he feels is the holiest of places in Islamic world. He claims Americans are controlling the Saudi government and using the country to carry out military actions against other Islamic states. His second goal is to end the American actions against Iraq. The third goal of bin Laden is to end U.S. aid to Israel, which he hopes will lead to the eventual destruction of the Jewish state. Bin Laden is in Afghanistan, although his exact location is unknown. He moves from location to location, usually three or four times a week. He continuously changes his routine. He communicates via messengers, since cellular phones and satellite communications are often intercepted. Yet, bin Laden and his two top aids: Muhammed Atef, his military commander, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician and leader of al-Jihad - the Egyptian group responsible for the Luxor tourist massacre in 1995, control Al-Qaeda, a terrorist network with operations in 60 countries worldwide. Again, bin Laden is only a suspect. There is no conclusive evidence that he is responsible. At the same time, bin Laden is an excellent example of today's terrorist. He is intelligent and highly educated. He is well trained with combat experience. He is from a wealthy family and has vast financial resources. He is extremely popular among his people and very influential. He has many prominent friends and associations in government and international circles. He is a religious fanatic and hates the United States. In short, he is intelligent, resourceful, well trained and determined. Make no mistake, he is a formidable enemy. But then, so are we.
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