Osama bin Laden
Late founder and emir of al Qaeda. Bin Laden went to Pakistan in 1979, where he worked with Abdullah Azzam and others to help the mujahideen fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. He founded the Maktab al Khidamat (Office of Services), which helped move Arab fighters and funding into Afghanistan, with Azzam. In 1988, bin Laden founded al Qaeda to promote his vision of bringing about governance by shari’a in Muslim lands through jihad. Bin Laden refined the strategy to achieve this objective over time, and in 1998, issued a fatwa, religious order, calling killing Americans and their allies a religious obligation and individual duty (fard ’ayn) for every Muslim. Bin Laden is among those responsible for the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, and the 9/11 attacks. He continued to plan and facilitate attacks targeting Americans until his death in Abbottabad, Pakistan.