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Fact Sheet: Osama Bin Ladin
Released by the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
August 21, 1998
On August 20, 1998, the U.S. military struck a number of facilities of the terrorist network associated with Usama bin Laden. Today bin Ladin's network leads, funds and inspires a wide range of Islamic extremist groups that perpetrate acts of terrorism around the world.
The bin Ladin network is multi-national and has established a worldwide presence. Senior figures in the network are also senior leaders in other Islamic terrorist networks, including those designated by the Department of State as foreign terrorist groups, such as the Egyptian al-Gama'At al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Bin Ladin and his network seek to provoke a war between Islam and the West and the overthrow of existing Muslim governments, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Our decision to attack facilities belonging to Usama Bin Laden's network is the result of convincing intelligence that his group, working with other terrorist groups, was behind the heinous attacks of August 7 against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Elements of Bin Laden's network were also involved last week in a plot to attack other U.S. embassies.
Moreover, on August 19, an Islamic front created by the bin Ladin network, and calling itself the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, praised the bombings of our embassies and warned that, "America will face a black fate...strikes will continue from everywhere, and Islamic groups will appear one after the other to fight American interests."
Bin Laden's network has publicly and repeatedly articulated a clear and violent anti-U.S. agenda:
· In August 1996, bin Ladin issued a "declaration of war" against the United States.
· In February 1998, Bin Laden stated "If someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters."
· In February of this year, the Bin Laden network's World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders declared its intention to attack Americans and our allies, including civilians, anywhere in the world.
· In May of this year, bin Ladin stated at a press conference in Afghanistan that we would see the results of his threats "in a few weeks."
Bin Ladin's Network
Bin Laden's goal in his own words is to "unite all Muslims and establish a government which follows the rule of the caliphs," which he believes he can accomplish only by overthrowing nearly all Muslim governments, driving Western influence from those countries and eventually to abolishing state boundaries.
The bin Ladin network supports terrorists in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and now Kosovo. It also trains members of terrorist networks from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria and Eritrea.
Bin Ladin, the youngest son of a wealthy Saudi businessman, developed a worldwide organization in the 1970s to recruit Muslim terrorists for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In 1988, he formed a network devoted to terror and subversion. He returned to his home in Saudi Arabia in 1989, but the Government of Saudi Arabia expelled him the following year for his continued support of terrorist groups.
Bin Ladin then went to Sudan from which he carried on his support for terrorist operations. At the urging of the United States, and following the attempted assassination of President Mubarak of Egypt, in which Bin Laden was involved and in which the Sudanese Government was complicit, the Government of Sudan expelled bin Ladin in 1996. However, he has maintained considerable business interests and facilities in Sudan.
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|I am deeply saddened by the National tragedy that has occurred and share
in the grief that many of our fellow countrymen have experienced. My thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been touched, destroyed and altered because of these horrific, cowardly, and despicable attacks on America.