The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Who Is Osama Bin Laden?

Sep 24, 2001

Osama bin Laden is blamed as the mastermind of the hideous attacks in New York and Washington on September 11. Of course, the U.S. government has a LONG history of lying to the public, especially as a war is beginning. But whether or not he did recruit, finance and plan this terrorism, it’s interesting to look at his history.

Born in 1957, Osama bin Laden was the son of an extremely wealthy Saudi Arabian who has accumulated billions from his investments in the infrastructure and construction businesses there. That means bin Laden grew up as one of a very small elite in a country ruled by the Saudi monarchy.

The Saudi regime is one of the most repressive governments in the world. It was set up in 1932 by British imperialism, to safeguard the oil found there. It not only decides who among its favorites will make money; it denies the majority of the population any civil rights, from voting to expressing their opinions. The working class, predominantly made up of immigrants from poorer countries in the Middle East, is attacked by this government if it attempts to fight back in any way. The edicts of these dictators are cloaked as religious law; it is the religious courts which hand out torturous punishments to anyone who doesn’t toe the line.

Saudi Arabia has long been one of the main supports of U.S. government policy in the Middle East, just as the Saud monarchy once was the lynchpin of British imperialism when it ruled the world.

Bin Laden comes from the background of those who, although not royal, have always benefitted from their ties to the Saudi regime, and through that regime to the U.S. The state apparatus, secret services and military in Saudi Arabia are trained, funded, and currently watched over by the U.S. military. Such ties allow young men from the Middle Eastern elite to serve U.S. foreign policy when they choose to fight in "holy wars," specifically the one in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden was one of those who, encouraged by Saudi Arabia and the United States, went to Pakistan to organize paramilitary forces which carried out terrorist actions not only against the Soviet troops which had invaded Afghanistan in 1979, but against Afghan civilians.

The U.S. government was not interested in Islamic holy wars, of course, but it was perfectly willing to encourage a policy which tied up the Soviet Union in a vicious war abroad, similar to the way in which the U.S. government had been tied up for a decade in a vicious war in Viet Nam. At no time was bin Laden active in a fight which called on the Afghan people to find a method to fight for real independence.

During the early 1980s, the Pakistani government, which had its own interests in what took place in neighboring Afghanistan, set up military camps for those training to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, with funds and arms supplied by the U.S. government and overseen by the CIA. In other words, bin Laden’s skills at recruiting other young men and soliciting funds for the Afghan war served U.S. policy at that time so well that he became one of the great "freedom fighters" praised by Ronald Reagan and subsequent presidents.

Like many others, bin Laden was welltrained to carry out the dirty policies which would terrorize different parts of the Afghan population during the next ten years of civil war. In this way, bin Laden’s own hatreds served the Saudi theocracy and the U.S. policymakers.

But in 1990, bin Laden seemed to have turned on his creators. He vigorously opposed, not the war against Iraq, but the stationing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil, as they began to arrive for the Gulf War. In fact, bin Laden criticized the Saudi government, calling for a holy war against any Americans in Saudi Arabia: "The presence of the American crusader forces in Muslim Gulf states ... is the greatest danger and the most serious harm, threatening the world’s largest oil reserves. Pushing out this American occupying enemy is the most important duty after the duty of belief in God. "

Since the U.S. troops were there because of the deals made between the Saudi and U.S. governments, bin Laden’s words were at least embarrassing to the Saudi government. They threw him out in 1994.

Since then, the U.S. government has considered bin Laden as the source of several bombing attacks, including ones at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and one against the USS Kohl, a ship stationed in the Gulf area in 2000. Less known is the fact that his followers have carried out terrorist actions supporting the Pakistan government in their war with India over a region called Kashmir, which is on the border between the two countries.

It’s difficult for anyone to know with certainty what bin Laden is responsible for. The people who today accuse him certainly know what he is capable of. They once trained and used him.

If Osama bin Laden did indeed carry out what the U.S. government says–unspeakable attacks which required not only planning, funding, high levels of skills, but also the willingness to kill thousands of civilians, then he learned at a school run by the best masters of terrorism in the world: the CIA.