Sociology 345: Contemporary American Society Special Lecture: America and Osama bin Laden This lecture concentrates on the relationship between the U.S. and Osama bin Laden. It begins from the start of the Soviet-Afghan War 1979-1989 to the assassination of Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Key Questions Why did the United States get involved in the Soviet-Afghan war and how did they do it? Who were the mujahedin and the Afghan rebels? Who is UBL? What is UBL’s role in international terrorism and what is the purpose of al Qaeda? What does UBL want? How does al Qaeda justify mass murder of civilians? What does the death of UBL mean?
1957 UBL born. 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; slow start of U.S.’s covert proxy war 1981 Ronald Reagan administration begins; increase in U.S. support for covert proxy war 1985 Support by U.S. of mujahedin and A fghan rebels reaching its height 1988 UBL creates al Qaeda 1989 George H. W. Bush administration begins; Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan 1990 Iraq invades Kuwait; Persian Gulf War or “Gulf War I” begins. 1991 Operation Desert Storm/Persian Gulf War ends. 1992 UBL in Sudan 1993 Clinton administration begins; Terrorism in WTC via truck bomb; U.S. led military operation in Somalia 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by domestic terrorists 1996 Taliban takes over key parts of Afghanistan; UBL expelled from Sudan; Atlanta Olympics bombing by domestic terrorist 1998 U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania bombed 2000 USS Cole, docked in Yemen, attacked by explosives loaded on a skiff 2001 George W. Bush administration begins; September 11, 2001 attacks 2011 UBL assassinated in Abbottabad, Pakistan
Afghanistan A wonderland Just drop into a store And you’ll be seen no more -- a rhyme from Soviet conscripts in the Afghan War Source: Coll 2004 Ghost Wars p. 132
UBL’s pre-9/11 legend in the Arab and Muslim worlds consists of the following elements: -- a wealthy man gives up the material comforts of his wealth to become a devout, pious Muslim, committed to a life walking in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad; -- a wealthy man who gives his wealth to the service of Muslims struggling against oppression; -- A man who successfully defies world powers – first the Soviets, then the Americans -- through his religious faith and devotion.