Osama Bin Laden
Leader and founder of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. Born in Saudi Arabia, he inherited a fortune from his father's construction business, which he has used to further his militant Islamic politics. In the late 1990s his guerrilla organization helped to thwart the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, making him a hero to many Muslims. His followers then carried out a series of attacks on overseas US targets (from 1992). However, it was the terrorist outrage of September 11, 2001, that brought him worldwide notoriety and made him the prime target of the USA's war on terrorism. Although he survived the US attack on al-Qaeda's command centre in Afghanistan, his whereabouts for many years were unknown. He was killed in a US military raid on a secure compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.