Watch CBSN Live

Bin Laden Profile

The world's most wanted man has been captured/killed.

Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 suicide hijacker attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in the United States, was apprehended/found dead in TK.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, President Bush said bin Laden, 44, was wanted "dead or alive" and vowed to punish Afghanistan's Taliban regime for sheltering him.

The U.S. and Britain launched air strikes on Afghanistan on Oct. 7, and within two months the Taliban had been driven from power, abandoning their last stronghold of Kandahar without a fight.

On December 13, U.S. officials released a videotape made in Afghanistan in November in which bin Laden boasted about his advance knowledge of the attacks on America and spoke about how the destruction had exceeded even his "optimistic" calculations.

U.S. legal experts called the tape devastating, a "virtual confession," in the words of one.

Prior to September 11, the U.S. had linked bin Laden to a string of attacks including the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 bombing of the warship USS Cole in Yemen.

Intelligence officials said his al-Qaida network stretched across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia to Europe and North America.

Born in 1957, the 17th of 57 children, bin Laden made his name fighting with Arab volunteers against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s in a proxy war partly supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

But he was not always the radical Muslim.

Part of a family made rich by the Saudi oil boom, bin Laden gained a degree in civil engineering.

In his student days, some reports say, he could be found in flashy Beirut nightclubs, a free-spender and heavy drinker, fighting over dancers and bar girls.

How he got embroiled in radical Islamic politics is unclear, though the late 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan appears key.

In the 1980s, bin Laden was raising funds and helping care for mujahideen fighters injured in battles with Soviet forces.

The "Saudi Prince," as he was known, eventually made his way to the frontline, and planted the seeds for the guerrilla training camps that Washington has been bombing in Afghanistan.

The Muslim militant, who inherited a fortune after his construction tycoon father died when the aircraft he was piloting crashed, condemned the presence in Saudi Arabia of American troops sent in 1991 to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

He called for jihad, or holy war, against America.

His family disowned him and he was eventually stripped of Saudi citizenship.

Bin Laden remained convinced the Muslim world was the victim of international terrorism, engineered by the United States through the United Nations.

Moving to Sudan in 1991, he was expelled five years later, only to resurface in Afghanistan before the Taliban seized control of the war-weary capital, Kabul.

Sharing their visioof austere Islam, bin Laden soon eased his way into inner Taliban circles.

They offered him protection as America put him at the top of their list of most wanted men. He had money and contacts.

Afghanistan is poor, while bin Laden has a fortune estimated as much as $300 million. The Taliban were insular. Bin Laden's al-Qaida had cells in at least 30 countries.

He is related by marriage to the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar. Bin Laden himself has three wives.

He has been the target of a U.S. manhunt since the African embassy bombings killed 224 people and wounded 4,000.

Apart from the bombing of USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors, the United States branded bin Laden the prime suspect in bombings that killed 24 U.S. servicemen in the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Khobar in 1995 and 1996.

He denied responsibility for any of the attacks against the United States.

The United States retaliated for the African embassy attacks with missile strikes on what it said were bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

Then a secret deal between Washington and Islamabad to send Pakistani commandos into Afghanistan to root out bin Laden was scrapped following an October 1999 military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power.

Bin Laden survived, but with his enemies edging nearer, he faded from public view until the attack on the Cole and the grim events of September 2001.

©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Reuters Limited contributed to this report

View CBS News In