On this day in 2011, the founder of al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden was shot and killed in a covert operation ordered by US President Barack Obama. The operation, codenamed Neptune, was carried out by a team of Navy SEALs, who discovered Bin Laden residing in a three-storey mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and raided the building before shooting him dead. Afterwards, his body was taken to Afghanistan for identification before being buried at sea.
Islam shaped Bin Laden’s ideologies from a young age and he lived his life by its teachings, before forming al-Qaeda in 1988, an organisation that would focus on symbolic acts of terrorism. Forming the idea during the Soviet-Afghan War, it was after the Soviets had withdrawn their troops from Afghanistan that he was able to begin raising money and lay the foundations for this new organisation. Al-Qaeda struck for the first time in 1991 with a bomb explosion in a Yemen hotel housing American troops.
Over the years, the scale of al-Qaeda’s attacks increased until the catastrophic attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, which saw a total of 2,996 deaths, making it the most devastating terrorist activity in America’s history. Although al-Qaeda originally denied any involvement in the attacks, in 2004 Bin Laden admitted he was the mastermind and remained in hiding until his eventual capture in 2011. On the night of his death, President Obama addressed the American nation, saying “Justice has been done.”