Bin Laden committed himself to expelling all Americans and Jews from Muslim holy lands. "Osama bin Laden may be the most dangerous non-state terrorist in the world," Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, told ABC News.
Most Wanted Man on Earth
His place in American history is relatively new, but in a short time he left a violent mark.
In 1993, bin Laden was linked by U.S. officials to the bombing of the World Trade Center that killed six people. He is also believed to have orchestrated at least a dozen attacks, some successful, some not. Among the worst of these were two truck bombings, both on Aug. 7, 1998, of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Clinton responded with cruise missile attacks on suspected al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. In November 1998, the U.S. State Department promised $5 million to anyone with information leading to bin Laden's arrest.
Despite attempts to apprehend him, bin Laden eluded the American government and continued plotting against it.
The same group, with bin Laden at the helm, is widely believed to be responsible for the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole.
Then came the stunning Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. On a clear, late-summer morning, two hijacked commercial jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. About an hour later, another hijacked airliner slammed into the Pentagon in the nation's capital. A fourth hijacked jet did not reach its target, crashing in western Pennsylvania instead.
When the massive towers collapsed in flames, nearly 3,000 people perished. Among those lost in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania were the 19 hijackers, most of whom have been linked to al Qaeda operations. Bin Laden denied involvement in the attacks, but he praised the hijackers for their acts. The U.S. government nevertheless regarded the terrorist leader as its prime suspect and stepped up the manhunt.
In March 2005, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf admitted that bin Laden had been in Pakistan in the spring of 2004 and was almost captured. Intelligence officials said they believed he was hiding in the rugged mountains that straddle the border with Afghanistan. The U.S. government even launched a series of television and radio ads in Pakistan trumpeting the $25 million reward for his capture.
In January 2006, a purported Bin Laden audio tape was released where a male voice threatens the United States with more attacks on U.S. soil.