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Bin Laden: timeline of a 10-year manhunt

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Bin Laden: timeline of a 10-year manhunt


Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces comes four months before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that he is said to have masterminded. Throughout that time he has been the most wanted man on the planet, with a 25-million-dollar ransom on his head.


- 11 September: Two hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center, New York, bringing down the twin towers. A third plane crashes into the Pentagon, while a fourth comes down in a field in Pennsylvania.

- 17 September: President George W. Bush announces he wants the capture of bin Laden “dead or alive.” Bin Laden is said to have been in Afghanistan since 1996.

- 7 October: In a videotaped message bin Laden taunts “infidel” president Bush and says the United States will not live in peace while Palestinians are unable to do the same.

- 13 December: Another video shows bin Laden saying he had high hopes for the 9/11 attack but did not expect the twin towers to fall. US says video is proof of bin Laden’s guilt.

- end of December: Large scale US military bombardment of caves in the mountainous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.


- 11 April: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for a truck bombing in Djerba, Tunisia in which five Tunisians, 14 Germans and a Frenchman are killed.

- 19 May: Release of a video showing bin Laden apparently during springtime (therefore after the Tora Bora bombardments.)

- September 10: Al Jazeera releases an audiotape in which it says bin Laden celebrates the 9/11 attackers as men who changed history.

- 12 November: In an audio tape, bin Laden apparently praises the Djerba bombing as well as attacks in Karachi (May 2002), Bali (October 2002), Yemen and Kuwait.


- 1 March: al-Qaeda’s alleged third-in-command, Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, is arrested in Pakistan

- 10 September: Another video is aired of bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s alleged second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri walking down a mountainside, calling for jihad and praising 9/11 attackers.


- 7 March: beginning of Operation Mountain Storm in southern and eastern Afghanistan

- 19 March: a Taliban spokesman tells AFP press agency that bin Laden and al-Zawahri are safe and sound in Afghanistan.

- 15 April: Arabic media release audiotape of bin Laden offering a truce to European countries if they withdraw troops from Muslim countries.

- 6 May: recording purportedly of bin Laden declaring jihad against the US-led occupation of Iraq.

- 2 June: a French army general claims that coalition forces have had bin Laden within reach on several occasions.

- 30 October: four days before the US presidential election, bin Laden warns in a voice recording that Bush has deceived Americans and that the US faces more attacks like 9/11.

- 27 December: in another audiotape, bin Laden urges Iraqis not to take part in elections the following January.


- 15 March: Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf says that Pakistani intelligence services have had no trace of bin Laden for eight to ten months.

- 7 July: four suicide bombers kill 52 people on London’s transport network.


- 20 April: American intelligence chief John Negroponte claims bin Laden is operating along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

- 7 September: the US Senate unblocks 200 million dollars for an intelligence cell dedicated to hunting bin Laden.

- 23 September: media leak a French intelligence report which claims Saudi secret services are convinced bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan in August.

- 28 September: Pakistani president Musharraf says bin Laden is hiding in Kunar province, east Afghanistan.


- 7 September: bin Laden’s first appearance in a video tape for three years. He promises to step up violence in Iraq and says America is vulnerable despite its economic and military power.


- 19 March: in an audio recording bin Laden threatens to punish Europe for publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.

- 27 May: an Afghan secret service official suggests bin Laden is in north-west Pakistan near the Afghan border.


- 14 January: bin Laden calls for another jihad over Gaza in a new audiotape.

- 23 July: one of bin Laden’s sons, Saad, allegedly killed in an American drone attack earlier that year.


- 25 March: bin Laden warns that any Americans taken hostage by al-Qaeda will be killed if the US puts to death Khaled Sheikh Mohamed.

- 12 April: Pakistani prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani insists bin Laden is not in Pakistan.

- 27 June: Leon Panetta, head of the CIA, claims that bin Laden is “very well hidden” and under protection in a tribal region of Pakistan.


- 21 January: in an audio recording bin Laden says the fate of French hostages being held in Niger depends on French soldiers leaving Muslim nations.

- 2 May: President Obama announces that bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan.

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