Bin Laden timeline: 1957—2011
From fighting Soviets to fighting the entire West
Allied early on with the United States, Osama bin Laden turned from fighting with the Afghan mujahadeen against the Soviet Union to declaring war on the entire West, including the Americans.
Osama bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Laden is born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the 17th of 52 children fathered by Muhammad Awad bin Laden, a Yemeni immigrant who built up a billion-dollar construction company. His mother is Hamida al-Attas, a Syrian.
Bin Laden graduates from King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, with an engineering degree. He goes to Afghanistan to join the "jihad," or holy war, against the Soviet Union, which had just invaded that country.
1980 - 1989
Bin Laden raises money for the Afghan mujahedeen, and uses construction equipment from his family's business to help the Muslim guerrilla forces, who were also supported by the U.S.
Bin Laden founds al-Qaeda, "the Base" in Arabic.
The Soviet Union pulls its forces from Afghanistan. Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia to work for his family's construction firm, the BinLaden Group.
August 7, 1990
U.S. troops arrive in Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, enraging bin Laden because of their proximity to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Bin Laden is expelled from Saudi Arabia for speaking against the government. Funding his operation with $250 million, bin Laden moves al-Qaeda to Sudan.
U.S. troops begin a humanitarian mission in Somalia.
Dec. 29, 1992
The bombing of a hotel in Aden, Yemen, where U.S. troops were thought to be staying. In al-Qaeda's first attempted attack on Americans, two Austrian tourists are killed; no soldiers are injured.
Feb. 26, 1993
The first World Trade Center attack and the first al-Qaeda terrorist attack on America. A bomb is detonated in an underground garage at the WTC, killing six and wounding 1,500.
April—June 23, 1993
Militants plan a series of bombings in New York City. Among the targets were the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the Federal Building, and the Diamond District, populated by mostly Jewish gem dealers. On June 23, FBI agents arrest 12 plotters as they mix bomb chemicals.
May—July 28, 1993
Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, tries—and fails—to plant a bomb in an attempted assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan.
al-Qaeda attempts to assassinate then-Jordanian Crown Prince Abdullah, who succeeds his father as king in 1999.
Oct. 3-4, 1993
U.S. troops are pinned down in Mogadishu, Somalia, after two American helicopters are shot down. Eighteen soldiers die in a street battle, killed by Somalis reportedly trained by al-Qaeda.
The Saudi government strips bin Laden of his citizenship and freeezes his assets. His family disowns him.
March 11, 1994
Another failed plot by Ramzi Yousef: the attempted bombing of the Israeli embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
Bin Laden meets with a Hezbollah military chief, who advises him on terror plots.
June 20, 1994
Ramzi Yousef blows up the Shrine of Reza, the great grandson of Mohammed and a Shiite saint, in Mashad, Iran. 26 pilgrims are killed
Nov. 12-14, 1994
President Bill Clinton is closely surveilled by al-Qaeda on a visit to the Philippines.
Dec. 8, 1994—Jan. 5, 1995
Ramzi Yousef's plot to kill Pope John Paul II in the Philippines is thwarted when bomb-making materials catch fire.
Dec. 10, 1994
Yousef plants a crude bomb on board a Philippines Airlines 747, killing a Japanese businessman.
Jan. 21-22, 1995
The "Day of Hate"—a plan by Yousef and his his uncle, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to bomb 11 trans-Pacific jumbo jets—fails when Yousef's Manila apartment catches fire. A modified version of the plan became the blueprint for Sept. 11.
June 26, 1995
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is nearly assassinated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bin Laden is thought to be behind the attack.
Nov. 13, 1995
A truck bomb explodes near the Saudi National Guard Communications Center in central Riyadh, killing five American soldiers and two Indian police. Four Saudis are quickly executed before the FBI can determine any connection to al-Qaeda.
Sudan expels bin Laden. He relocates to Afghanistan, where he receives support from the Taliban regime.
U.S. authorities indict bin Laden on charges he helped train Somali militia involved in the 1993 Mogadishu attack that killed 18 soldiers.
June 25, 1996
A truck bomb explodes outside the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American servicemen and wounding 400. The connection with bin Laden is still debated.
August 23, 1996
Bin Laden declares a holy war against U.S. forces, issuing a declaration of jihad from Afghanistan entitled, "Message from Osama bin Laden to his Muslim Brothers in the Whole World and Especially in the Arabian Peninsula: Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques; Expel the Heretics from the Arabian Peninsula."
Bin Laden's al-Qaeda and Ayman al-Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad merge, according to American prosecutors.
May 29, 1998
Bin Laden says "it is the duty of Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorize the enemies of God."
Aug. 8, 1998
Suicide bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania kill 224 people, including 12 Americans at the Nairobi embassy, eight years after American troops landed in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. indicts bin Laden on 224 counts of murder-one for each death in the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania bombings.
June 7, 1999
Bin Laden is added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
Jan. 1-3, 2000
Attacks planned to coincide with the New Year/millennium celebrations are thwarted in the U.S. and Jordan.
Oct. 12, 2000
The destroyer U.S.S. Cole is bombed while in port at Aden, Yemen. 17 sailors are killed.
May 29, 2001
Four bin Laden supporters are convicted of the 1998 embassy bombings.
Sept. 9, 2001
Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, is killed in a suicide attack by two Moroccans.
Sept. 11, 2001
The morning of September 11th, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger airliners. The terrorists intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others, and killing 2,752 people. The third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C., killing 189. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Penn., when some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. 45 were killed. It is thought that the terrorists were targeting either the Capitol or the White House.
Oct. 7, 2001
The U.S. and Britain send troops to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, aimed at flushing out al-Qaeda and ending Taliban support for the terror group.
The U.S. offers a $25 million reward for for bin Laden.
Bin Laden reported in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. U.S. and British special forces attempt to capture him.
Dec. 22, 2001
Richard Reid attempts to bomb a Paris-Miami flight by setting off explosives in his shoe.
December 25, 2001
Bin Laden's death reported by a Pakistani newspaper.
December 27, 2001
Afghan officials report that bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan.
Jan. 31, 2002
Pakistani militants behead Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, al-Qaeda's operations chief, may have played a role in the kidnapping and murder, which is recorded on video.
March 17, 2002
The Protestant International Church in Islamabad, Pakistan, is attacked, killing five, among them Americans Barbara Green and her daughter Kristen Wormsley.
March 20, 2002
Nine are killed and 30 wounded when a car bomb explodes near the U.S. embassy in Lima, Peru.
June 14, 2002
A suicide bomber detonates a car bomb outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 11 and wounding 45. No Americans are killed.
Sept. 5, 2002
Afghan President Hamid Karzai survives, unhurt, an assassination attempt in Kandahar. The attack comes after a car bomb killed 22 near two government offices in Kabul.
Oct. 5, 2002
A French tanker, the S.S. Limburg, is bombed off Yemen. One crew member drowns and 24 are rescued.
Oct. 8, 2002
Two U.S. Marines are killed in Kuwait as America prepares to invade Iraq.
Oct. 12, 2002
202 people are killed and hundreds wounded in bombings in a Bali, Indonesia nightclub district. Five Americans are among the dead.
Oct. 28, 2002
Al-Qaeda operatives kill a USAID worker in Jordan.
Nov. 28, 2002
15 are killed when a hotel frequented by Israeli tourists is bombed in Mombasa, Kenya. Later that day, two missiles are fired at an Israeli airliner leaving the city.
March 19, 2003
The U.S. begins the invasion of Iraq.
May 1, 2003
President George W. Bush declares the "end of major combat operations" in Iraq, in front of a now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner.
May 12, 2003
35, including nine Americans, die when suicide bombers shoot their way into housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
May 16, 2003
Suicide bombers kill 44 in Casablanca, Morocco.
June 7, 2003
Four German peacekeepers and an Afghan civilian die and 31 are wounded when a suicide bomber strikes a bus east of Kabul.
Aug. 5, 2003
A truck bomb kills 16 and wounds 150 at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Nov. 8, 2003
Suicide bombers and gunmen target a Riyadh housing compund, killing 17 and wounding 122.
Nov. 15, 2003
In "drive-by" bombings at two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, 29 are killed and dozens injured.
Nov. 20, 2003
Truck bombings target the Istanbul branch of British bank HSBC and the British consulate, killing 32.
Al-Qaeda launches three attacks on Saudi intelligence officials. Maj. Gen. Abdelaziz al-Huweirini, the No. 3 official in Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry, is wounded in one attack.
Dec. 13, 2003
Saddam Hussein is captured by U.S. forces in Iraq.
Dec. 14, 2003
Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff is nearly killed by a 1,000-pound bomb, which detonated 30 seconds after his motorcade passed over a bridge in Rawalpindi.
Dec. 25, 2003
Musharraf's motorcade is again targeted, by trucks filled with explosives. Several police are killed and more than 50 wounded.
Feb. 6, 2004
A suicide bombing in the Moscow Metro kills 40.
Feb. 27, 2004
A bombing of a ferry in the Philippines kills 100.
March 11, 2004
The bombing of trains in Madrid, Spain, kills more than 190 and wounds hundreds. The attack is linked to a group inspired by al-Qaeda, but not directly connected.
April 21, 2004
A suicide bombing in Riyadh kills five.
May 1, 2004
Gunmen kill five, including two Americans, in an attack on a Saudi oil refinery.
May 30, 2004
Militants kill 22 in an attack on housing compounds for oil workers in the Saudi cit of Khobar.
Dec. 6, 2004
al-Qaeda claims responsibility for an attack on the American Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, that killed five non-American employees.
Dec. 12, 2004
A bomb kills at least 15 in a Philippine market.
Dec. 29, 2004
al-Qaeda attacks Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry in Riyadh. Seven terrorists are killed and one government official is wounded.
June 20, 2004
U.S. and Afghan authorities announce the arrest of four Pakistanis on charges they were plotting the assassination of Zalmay Khalilizad, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
June 15, 2005
Chechen rebels derail a train from Grozny to Moscow, injuring 15.
July 7, 2005
Bombs in the London Underground and on a double-decker bus kill 56
July 21, 2005
Another Underground/bus bombing attempt fails in London. One man is wounded as the bombs fail to go off.
July 23, 2005
Bombings in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh kill 63.
Nov. 9. 2005
Suicide bombers kill 60 and wound hundreds at a wedding in Amman, Jordan.
April 11, 2007
Two bombings in Algiers kill 33.
June 2, 2008
A car bomb kills six at the Danish embassy in Pakistan. al-Qaeda claims it is a response to the 2005 publication of the "Muhammed cartoons" by a Danish newspaper.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says "it's been years" since there was good intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts.
Dec. 25, 2009
The "underwear bomber" tries to detonate a bomb aboard a Amsterdam-Detroit airliner
April 18, 2010
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is killed in a joint U.S./Iraqi operation near Tikrit.
President Barack Obama is briefed on a "possible lead" on the location of bin Laden.
Aug. 19, 2010
The last U.S. combat brigades leave Iraq.
October 29, 2010
Explosives are discovered on cargo planes bound from Yemen to the U.S.
U.S. learns bin Laden may be in a fortified compound in Pakistan.
Obama holds National Security Council meetings on an operation to target bin Laden.
April 29, 2011
Obama authorizes the mission.
May 1, 2011
A team of U.S. Navy SEALS kills bin Laden after a firefight. The al-Qaeda leader's body is buried at sea.