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Who Was Osama Bin Laden?

obama_binladen_image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, APTwo weeks ago, US President Barack Obama went on television to make an historic announcement. He said that US troops had killed Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the terrible events on Sept. 11, 2001 (known as 9/11). On Sept. 11, more than 3,000 Americans and 24 Canadians died in terrorist attacks.

For many Americans and other people around the world, bin Laden’s death gave them a sense that justice had been done. On that day, hundreds of people went to “Ground Zero” in New York, where the World Trade Center towers had been destroyed, and cheered because bin Laden was no more.

bin Laden’s history

Osama Bin Mohammed bin Awad Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957. He was the son of a very rich man and inherited a lot of money from his family. Osama’s mother, his father’s tenth wife, divorced his father and married another man. Osama went to live with the new family. He grew up as a Muslim and studied business at university. His biggest interest was the Qur’an, the most important religious book of Islam. bin Laden also wrote poetry, did work for charities and played football. During his lifetime, he had six wives and 25 children.

In 1979, Osama took part in a war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. At that time, the United States and other countries were deadly enemies of the Soviet Union – a group of countries made up of Russia and others. Osama helped Pakistani troops fight against the Soviet Union. When the Soviets finally left Afghanistan, Osama became a hero in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

But he believed that everyone except Muslims was his enemy and his attack plans turned to towards North America. In 1994, Osama’s family stopped giving him money because he had become an enemy of his homeland, Saudi Arabia. But that didn’t stop him; he just became more violent in his actions. In the 1990s he apparently bombed and attacked targets in several Middle Eastern and African countries.

September 11

In 2001, al-Qaeda, an organization founded by bin Laden, organized the 9/11 attacks against the United States. It was the first time the United States had faced terrorism on American soil. The United States, then led by President George W. Bush, vowed they would not stop until they had captured or killed Osama bin Laden.

Two weeks ago, nearly 10 years after 9/11, President Barack Obama sent US troops to Pakistan to storm the compound where bin Laden had been living for five years. The troops were sent to kill Osama Bin Laden.

Scientists used DNA to prove it was bin Laden who had been killed. When some people asked President Obama if pictures of the dead man could be shown to the public, the president said no because: “That’s not who we are.” He meant that showing gory pictures around the world did not represent the true spirit of right and wrong in the US. He was also afraid pictures would make some of Osama’s friends angrier and encourage them to take more terrorist actions.

A lot of people wonder how bin Laden could live in that compound for so long and not be noticed, especially since Pakistan’s military zone and security forces were very close by. But leaders in Pakistan have said they didn’t know bin Laden was living there. The US is still searching for information about it.

In an interview last Sunday night, on the television program ‘60 Minutes,’ President Obama said ordering troops to kill bin Laden was one of his most difficult decisions. That was because they weren’t 100 per cent sure it was bin Laden who was living in that compound. Also, it was a very dangerous mission and some of the US troops might not make it out alive. Also, if it was not bin Laden in that compound, the Pakistani government would have been very angry with the US.

bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea. There were two main reasons for this. If they had buried the body on land, bin Laden’s followers may have turned it into a shrine or a place of worship. Also, President Obama said that even though bin Laden was a terrorist responsible for thousands of deaths, they wanted to treat his body with respect and not stoop to the level of bin Laden, who had no regard for the bodies of the innocent people he murdered.

There will continue to be many questions about the killing of bin Laden and the events leading up to it. However, for the families of those killed in 9/11 bin Laden’s death may help them turn a page in their lives.


Writing/Discussion Prompt
Using information from this article and your own ideas, discuss the following questions:
1. Do you think Obama made the right decision when he buried bin Laden’s body at sea?
2. What do you think will happen next for Obama, Pakistan and Afghanistan?
3. Do you think bin Laden’s death will help families whose loved ones were killed in the 9/11 attacks?

Reading Prompt
There is a lot of information included in this article.
Summarize this information and explain the main ideas to a friend or parent.  In your summary, make sure you answer the following three questions:
1. What happened on September 11?
2. What is Osama bin Laden’s background?
3. How was Osama bin Laden killed?

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea OME, Reading: 1.4).

Grammar Feature: Abbreviations
An abbreviation is a short form for a word or a phrase.  Some abbreviations in the article are US (United States) and 9/11 (September 11).
Find out what the following abreviations mean: LOL, BTW, EX, ETC, CAN and RSVP.