Despite these and countless other opportunities, Bin Laden exhibited a persistent tendency towards religious fanaticism and upon the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, joined the mujahedeen forces.
Born in 1957, Bin Laden's childhood period coincided with the collapse of colonialism and the rise of Arab and Islamic nationalism. His childhood and youth, therefore, unfolded during a period of politically inspired religious and nationalistic fervor. The degree to which the stated influenced him is amply evidenced in his response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As Gunaratna (2002) explains, bin Laden immediately responded to the United States' call for the liberation of Afghanistan, a Muslim territory, from the atheistic communist forces headed by the Soviet Union and joined the ranks of the mujahideen. During this period he was exposed to extremist Islamic ideology and, according to Gunaratna (2002, p. 21), was afforded the opportunity to establish "close relationships with several religious authorities," most of whom like Omar Abdel Rahman, were living in exile having
The times into which Osama Bin Laden was born and the way he interacted with and responded to them determined his evolution into a terrorist. It is within the context of these times that the events of September 11th assume a type of inevitability. From his perspective, as long as the United States supported Arab regimes which did not adhere to radical Islamic ideology and supported Israel, it was an obstacle to the rise of Islam in the Muslim World and therefore, had to be violently removed from the Middle East. September 11th was an attempt to force the US to cease all forms of intervention in the Middle East.
Osama Bin Laden was exposed to a number of religious influences, most of which tended towards extremism and radicalism. His early perspectives of, and introduction to, Islam were, influenced by the thoughts of Mohammed Abdel Wahab, the founder of Wahhabism and one of the founding fathers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism embraces and supports an extremely strict Sunni religious credo (Jacquard, 2002). Bin Laden was influenced by Wahhabism towards extremist interpretations of Islam, rendering him vulnerable to the subsequent acceptance and embrace of fundamentalist and extremist Islam, as interpreted and propagated by Egypt's Sayyid Qutb (executed by the state as a terrorist and traitor in the 60s) and Omar Abdel Rahman (exiled by the stated after a period of imprisonment for terrorism). Indeed, as Abu Khalil (2002, pp. 47-48) contends, while it is impossible to list all those who influenced Bin Laden's radicalism, one can safely assume that all influences were primarily fundamentalist, extremist and radical.
4 Legal Changes
The events of September 11th, and the continuing threat to national and global security posed by bin Laden and his Qaeda organisation, instigated widespread legal changes, rationalized by the imperatives of fighting terrorism.
4.1 United States
In response to the attacks of September 11th Congress passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, Act more commonly known as the USA PATRIOT ACT (Ashcroft, 2006). The Act was signed