On May 2, 2011, Barack Obama, the US president, announced that Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, was shot dead in a raid by US special forces on a compound about 60km north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The death of bin Laden ends a ten-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted man.
Before his death, the last known sighting of bin Laden by anyone other than his very close entourage was in late 2001 – as he prepared to flee his stronghold in Afghanistan. However, in subsequent years he issued several video and audio messages.
How did Bin Laden develop his political agenda? And how did this Saudi-born son of a rich construction magnate – who joined guerrillas in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union – emerge to become one of the most feared men in the world?
Ahmad Zaidan, Al Jazeera Arabic’s Islamabad correspondent, interviews a range of people including Taliban commandos, former Mujahideen leaders, Pakistani officials, and journalists who all relate their memories of and insights into the al-Qaeda leader.
He speaks to people who are able to debunk some of the myths and describe some of the characteristics of the man who was Osama bin Laden – a man denounced by enemies as a religious fanatic and a terrorist and praised by supporters as a leader fighting Western aggression and subservient Arab regimes.