Who killed Osama bin Laden? When was Twin Towers mastermind killed - how to watch The Road to 9/11 documentary

Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11 on Channel 4 charts Osama bin Laden’s transformation from quiet and introspective son of a billionaire to global terrorist

This weekend saw the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and as part of those commemorations, a new three-part documentary profiling the man who masterminded them is being broadcast.

Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11 on Channel 4 charts Osama bin Laden’s transformation from quiet and introspective son of a billionaire to global terrorist.

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Immediately following 9/11, suspicion fell upon Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.

The US and its allies prepared to invade when the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden.

Conflict in Afghanistan would rage for years, and didn’t stop even once Osama bin Laden was killed by a US special operations unit after being tracked down to a compound in Pakistan.

But who exactly is Osama bin Laden, and how did he die?

Here is everything you need to know about it.

Who was Osama bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia in 1957, the son of a Saudi millionaire and construction company founder from Yemen.

He studied in the country until 1979, after which he joined forces in Pakistan fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, helping to fund anti-Soviet forces by funnelling arms, money and fighters into Afghanistan.

In 1988 he formed al-Qaeda, and was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992, which forced him to shift his base to Sudan, before US pressure forced him to leave Sudan in 1996.

Bin Laden is most well known for his role in masterminding the September 11 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and prompted the United States to initiate the War on Terror, and the subsequent War in Afghanistan.

From 2001 to 2011, bin Laden was a major target of the United States, and the FBI offered a $25 million bounty (£18 million) in their search for him.

How did he die?

Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on 2 May 2011, shortly after 1am local time by a United States military special operations unit.

Code-named Operation Neptune Spear, the operation was ordered by US President Barack Obama and carried out by a team of United States Navy SEALs.

After the raid, bin Laden's body was taken to Afghanistan for identification, then swiftly buried at sea within 24 hours of his death.

This served two purposes: allowing the body to be disposed of in an anonymous location where it could not be seized by followers, while being dealt with in accordance with Islamic law.

A passerby takes pictures of newspaper headlines reporting the death of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

However, some say bin Laden’s body wasn’t buried at sea, and may even still be held by US authorities.

This is because of a lack of evidence that there was an imam on board the USS Carl Vinson - where the burial was said to have taken place - which would have been required for such a ceremony to have taken place.

Pakistani authorities later demolished bin Laden’s compound to prevent it from becoming a neo-Islamist shrine.

What is Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11?

Among those helping to tell the disturbing story in Bin Laden: The Road to 9/11 are childhood friends, journalists, those who fought beside him, and members of Al Qaeda who once revered bin Laden’s name, but now seek to distance themselves from his most notorious crimes.

Channel 4 factual commissioning editor Sacha Mirzoeff said: “As Osama Bin Laden was the world’s most infamous terrorist, the many films about him generally focus on the impact of his acts of terror.

“But how much do we really know about the man himself? Bin Laden: The Inside Story looks at the person behind the headlines and highlights some of his sliding door moments.”

Episode one was broadcast on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday 6 September, with the following two episodes airing on 13 and 20 September at the same time.

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