The world was stunned by the announcement late in the evening of Sunday, May 1, 2011, stating that al Qaeda founder and spiritual head Osama bin Laden had been killed by US special forces at a private residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 30 miles from the capital. The raid, occurring at 1:30 AM local time, brought to a close a nearly decade-long manhunt for the most wanted terrorist on the planet, charged with masterminding the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the Yemeni coast, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Born 10 March 1957, Osama bin Laden was the son of wealthy Saudi industrialist Mohammed bin Laden and his tenth wife, Hamida. Bin Laden’s parents divorced shortly after his birth, his mother remarried, and he was raised in his stepfather’s household with four half-siblings. At 6’4″ tall and approximately 165 pounds, with a full beard, a plain white turban and often using a cane in later life, bin Laden presented a unique, easily identifiable appearance.
The bin Laden family fortune was founded in construction, and Osama earned a university degree in civil engineering despite his main interest, which was religion. Raised as a devout Wahhabi Muslim, bin Laden opposed Western cultural intrusion into Arab communities, and supported the re-establishment of Islamic Sharia law as a precursor to rectifying what he saw as a dangerous erosion of traditional Muslim values.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 gave bin Laden his first opportunity to put his principles into action, and he was instrumental in organizing the mujahideen, “holy warriors” drawn from across the Arab world to support Afghanistan’s struggle for independence, initially self-funding the project with his share of the family assets (a reported $7 million annual stipend). Further financial, logistical and supply support came from the US CIA via Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. The mujahideen and local Afghan militias fought the Soviets for ten years, eventually beating them back into retreat in February 1989. This long guerilla war of attrition was devised by bin Laden, who decided that the way for a small force to beat a superpower was to tie them down and drain economic resources, bringing them to their knees. In actual fact, the crippling cost of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among other internal economic stresses, was a proximate cause of the collapse and break-up of the Soviet Union just two years later.
In August 1988, with victory in sight, bin Laden formed al Qaeda, in combination with senior elements of the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization and Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian theologian who had been heavily involved in fundraising and recruitment for the mujahideen. Their avowed goal was to take the fight outside the Arab world once the Soviets had finally been repelled, challenging the West’s growing hegemony in the region.
Two years later they received severe provocation when, after the First Gulf War in 1990, US troops remained stationed in Saudi Arabia, considered a profanation of holy soil by bin Laden, who had met with King Fahd after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and offered the services of his mujahideen in repelling the Iraqi dictator’s forces. The Saudis preferred American military might, and al Qaeda’s response to what they saw as foreign occupation of “the land of the two mosques” was to devise plans to destroy several New York City skyscrapers, a plot foiled in November 1990 when the details were uncovered during a raid on an al Qaeda operative’s apartment.
Expelled by the Saudis, bin Laden regrouped his mujahideen in Sudan, from where in 1995 they attempted an assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Bin Laden’s Saudi passport and citizenship were revoked, and his family was persuaded to cut off his annual stipend. Reports that the bin Laden family completely disowned Osama at this point are belied by his attendance at a family wedding as recently as 2001, when he was already on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
In 1996 joint Saudi and Egyptian pressure caused Sudan to expel bin Laden, who returned to Afghanistan and began to forge strong ties with cleric Mullah Mohammad Omar, head of the ruling Taliban government. A series of small bombings in the 1990s across the Middle East have been attributed to bin Laden, directly or funded by him, most notably the so-called “Luxor Massacre” in Egypt in November 1997, where 62 civilians were killed.
But it was 1998 when bin Laden first came to the notice of the American public, after simultaneous bombings of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 7, which killed hundreds. Two trucks loaded with 2,000-pound bombs were parked in front of the American embassies and almost immediately detonated by suicide bombers. The explosion in Nairobi killed more than 200 and wounded 4000; that in Dar es Salaam killed 11 and wounded 85. Two weeks later, US President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missile strikes in retaliation, aimed at business interests held by bin Laden in Sudan, and al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, without inflicting serious damage.
On October 12, 2000, al Qaeda operatives in a small craft approached the USS Navy destroyer Cole while it was refueling at harbor in Aden, Yemen. The craft detonated, ripping a 40-by-40-foot gash in the Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39 others. The incident, less than month before the November 2000 US presidential elections, created an up-tick for Republican candidate George W. Bush, running neck-and-neck with Democrat Al Gore, by reinforcing the GOP’s “tough on defense” mantra.
Of course, bin Laden’s most notorious operation was the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, where 2977 Americans lost their lives when US commercial flights were hijacked by al Qaeda agents and used as missiles. Strangely, bin Laden denied any involvement in this most successful al Qaeda mission for over three years, until releasing a videotape just four days before the 2004 US presidential election, where he finally claimed responsibility. The effect of the tape was to once again increase support for Bush, who narrowly defeated Senator John Kerry to gain re-election. Although the FBI states that classified information clearly links bin Laden to the 9/11 attacks, he has never been charged with them, and his status on the Ten Most Wanted list dates from the embassy bombings.
Despite his denials, the US government was not slow to accuse bin Laden of complicity, placing a $25 million bounty on his head, dead or alive (later increased to $50 million in 2007). Speaking just days after the attacks, George W. Bush stated, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” The Bush administration demanded his extradition from Afghanistan, and when the Taliban refused, bombing began in October 2011, followed by the invasion of ground troops in December. After the initial bombings, Taliban representatives offered to turn over bin Laden to a third-party country for trial, if the US would stop the attacks and provide proof of bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11. Bush refused, stating the invasion was no longer negotiable, and “there’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.”
Although intelligence showed that bin Laden was likely hiding out in a cave complex used as al Qaeda headquarters in Tora Bora, in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan near the Khyber Pass, the US and its NATO allies chose to subdue the rest of the country first, only turning its sights on bin Laden directly at the end of 2001. Even then, the US did not commit sufficient numbers of ground forces for the assault, relying instead on local anti-Taliban Afghan militias, with US air strike cover. These groups agreed to a temporary truce with al-Qaeda in early December, ostensibly so the latter could surrender their weapons, but this was a ruse designed to gain time for bin Laden’s escape. When fighting resumed on December 12, the al Qaeda positions were quickly overrun, but bin Laden was gone.
So began a massive manhunt which lasted almost a decade. Rumor placed bin Laden in various locales across the northwest Middle East, while the release of occasional video statements from the al Qaeda leader refuted allegations that he was already dead. Although the CIA and foreign intelligence services continued the chase, Bush himself quickly changed his tune. Speaking at a press conference on 13 March 2002, just six months after the 9/11 attacks, Bush stated, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and I really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority. …I am truly not that concerned about him.”
The image of bin Laden, on the run, hiding in caves, a hunted fugitive, was somewhat belied when after his death it was revealed he had been living for the past six years in a million-dollar mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a garrisoned bedroom community of retired Pakistani military, just 30 miles from the capital, in a town that also housed the Pakistani version of West Point. That Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service and its military hierarchy was unaware of his presence there for so long seems inconceivable.
Fortunately, US President Barack Obama, George W. Bush’s successor, was more interested in the search. In a 2008 presidential debate, then-candidate Obama stated: “We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” A little over two years after winning election, Obama made good on that promise, when he directed a team of Navy SEALs to storm bin Laden’s compound, opting for the more dangerous raid rather than a massive bombing strike so as to obtain conclusive proof of bin Laden’s presence and death or capture.
With the President and cabinet members monitoring the raid in real time from the White House Situation Room via helmet cameras on the assault team, the SEALs blew a hole in the compound wall and began a 40-minute firefight at 1:30 AM local time, 2 May 2011, which ended with two bullets to bin Laden’s head and chest. Three other men and a woman were killed in the fight, with no US casualties. Bin Laden was found on the top floor of the mansion, unarmed, but the complications of taking him alive were too great; this was a kill mission.
The body was removed, facial analysis and DNA evidence providing positive proof of bin Laden’s identity, which al Qaeda sources further confirmed four days later. Within 24 hours, bin Laden was buried at sea from the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, according to Muslim rites, to prevent his burial place becoming a terrorist shrine.
Born 10 March 1957, Osama bin Laden is a potent example of just how effective and reality-warping a Black Hole Sun can be, given ideal conditions. Looking at his birth chart, at 19 Pisces, bin Laden’s natal Sun is within orb of a Black Hole at 16 Pisces, squared a second Black Hole at 18 Sagittarius, sextile another at 19 Capricorn, and semisquare a fourth at 4 Aquarius.
Black Hole Sun natives are adept at drawing others into their orbits, for good or ill, and can either blend into their surroundings, chameleon-like (as was the case for bin Laden’s years as a fugitive, hiding in plain sight), or seek to remake the world to suit their own ends, often acting behind the scenes or in surreptitious ways. Among the circumstances attributable to bin Laden’s actions (directly or used as justification by others) are two major wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan; the deployment of the Constitution-shredding USA PATRIOT Act; and the creation of an entirely new US Cabinet Department, Homeland Security. If we need any proof of bin Laden’s impact on history, we have only to turn to any of a multitude of politicians and pundits who unceasingly remind us of changed realities “in a post-9/11 world.” As the reputed author of that world, bin Laden may be the most effective Black Hole Sun of modern times.
Making bin Laden immeasurably more effective are strong solar contacts to two Quasars, a semisquare to one at 4 Taurus, and sesquiquadrate another at 4 Scorpio, which promote success, achievement and high visibility for one’s actions. Sun Quasar natives are well connected, adept at self-promotion, and stand out in a crowd as natural leaders, easily able to garner support from others. A tight opposition to a Pulsar at 18 Virgo, which rules the media and the message, shows a native ability to promote or advance one’s views and see them disseminated broadly, as well as extreme self-identification with the message, as its physical embodiment.
The specifics of what those views are likely to be can be seen in the natal placement of Jupiter, ruling politics, religion and philosophy, which at 27 Virgo is broadly opposed the Sun, making these integral to bin Laden’s sense of self, his basic identity. Jupiter is retrograde, implying conservatism, and squared the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, denoting a philosophy which has the potential of making a global impact.
More to the point, Jupiter is tightly conjoined by asteroid Apophis at 28 Virgo, named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil. One of the most evil-seeming elements of bin Laden’s political philosophy is his attitude toward civilian casualties, which dovetails with his religious worldview. Bin Laden justifies this slaughter by affirming that innocent bystanders will meet their destiny at death, going to paradise if they were good and proper Muslims, and to hell if they were bad or infidel; what difference does the timing or means of death make to the ultimate finality of our eternal destination?
Mercury and Venus lie within the Sun’s sphere of influence, exactly conjoined each other at 11 Pisces. A high degree of charm accompanies this combination, which may be fairly described as “silver-tongued” or charismatic. More, the conversation (Mercury) is about values (Venus), and in Pisces these are likely to exalt spiritual ideals, apart from worldly realities, and invoke both religious zealotry and martyrdom. The Sun is also squared natal Saturn at 14 Sagittarius, indicating a strong will, well-developed self-discipline, a harsh, unyielding outlook on life, some degree of callousness or pragmatism, and issues with resisting authority.
Mars at 25 Taurus is conjunct a Black Hole at 24 Taurus, a Maser at 27 Taurus, and Fixed Star Algol at 26 Taurus, while trine Jupiter at 27 Virgo. This last aspect implies a smooth, even flow between violent energies and political philosophy, an ease in blending religion and death. Mars on a Black Hole uses violence to alter the existing status quo to create a new reality; the Maser contact reflects further erratic or volatile eruptive behaviors, and a heightened level of controversy. Mars/Algol together often result in violent death, particularly involving decapitation or the head, as with the bullet to the brain that ended bin Laden’s life.
Uranus and Neptune square, from 3 Leo to 2 Scorpio, another indicator that violence and religion may be mixed, particularly involving explosions/bombings (Uranus), and a spiritual focus that is reactive, somehow eccentric or unorthodox, or based in alienation or xenophobia (all Uranus). Uranus on a Black Hole at 2 Leo reinforces the sense of the world turned upside down, and an attempt to use shocking violence to rectify the perceived imbalance, while Neptune on the Quasar at 4 Scorpio shows religious zealotry/martyr mentality as a highly visible feature of his spiritual make-up.
Pluto at 28 Leo retrograde is exactly conjunct a Black Hole and squared Mars, considerably ramping up the destruction factor as well as adding a focus on manipulation, control and power. Close beside is asteroid America at 27 Leo; this is a stark signature that almost verbally screams “Death (Pluto) to America!” in astrological parlance.
Additional asteroids form intriguing astrological contacts: asteroid Kenya (#1278), representing the site of the most deadly embassy bombing, at 5 Gemini conjoins a volatile Maser at 6 Gemini and exactly opposes a Black Hole at 5 Sagittarius, sextile Uranus and inconjunct Neptune. Asteroid Cole (#5635), for the USS Cole bombing, at 24 Aries is exactly conjunct a Black Hole, semisextile Mars, trine Pluto and inconjunct Jupiter. Asteroid Manhattan (#12464), the venue for the 9/11 attack with the most casualties, lies at 25 Aquarius, exactly conjunct a spotlighting, attention-grabbing Quasar, squared Mars, opposed Pluto and inconjunct Jupiter. Also conjunct Manhattan are asteroid Karma at 21 Aquarius, and asteroid Busch (#7121), representing George W. Bush, implying some fated bond between them. Asteroid George (#3854) at 28 Virgo is exactly conjunct Apophis/Jupiter, the signature of an evil political philosophy.
Asteroid Washingtonia, representing the capital of bin Laden’s ostensible chief foe, falls at 13 Taurus, exactly squared another volatile Maser at 13 Leo, inconjunct Saturn at 14 Sagittarius, and exactly trine to natal asteroid Osamu (#11930, for Osama) at 13 Capricorn, the degree of the final Solar Eclipse before bin Laden’s death. The trine between Washingtonia and Osamu implies, not an adversarial relationship, but one of support and ease, something which, taken in tandem with the significant placements of asteroids George and Busch in bin Laden’s natal chart, suggests collusion rather than antagonism.
The idea that elements of the US government were complicit in the tragedy of 9/11 is hardly a new one. There are many strange “coincidences” regarding that day, and many unanswered questions. Having the Vice President of the United States overseeing emergency flight drills which simulated terrorist-hijacked planes flying into buildings at precisely the time these events were playing out in the real world is one such oddity. Having the current President’s father, himself a former President, attending a business meeting in the very same room in Washington with the chief terrorist mastermind’s brother at the moment of the attacks, while the sitting President was off reading goat stories to children in Florida, is another.
It may therefore be less than surprising to find, when looking at a chart cast for the first plane impact on World Trade Center 1 at 8:46 AM EDT 11 September 2001, that this pattern of interconnection holds. Conjunct the 14 Libra Ascendant (the public face, image presented) from the Twelfth House (hidden matters) side, are Mercury (operational planning) also at 14 Libra, a Black Hole (altered reality, false front) and asteroid George (both Bushes) at 13 Libra, with asteroid Osamu (bin Laden) right there at 8 Libra, exactly squared a Quasar (notoriety, public attention or visibility, attributed responsibility) at 8 Cancer.
With that Ascendant/Mercury exactly on the USA natal Saturn (the government generally, the executive branch specifically) and asteroid George exactly squared the USA Sun, one might make some interesting conclusions about the event. Add to this astrology, transit Uranus (planes, explosions) for that day at 21 Aquarius, conjunct transit asteroid Busch at 27 Aquarius, with Uranus exactly conjunct bin Laden’s natal Karma and Busch conjoining his natal Busch/Manhattan, and the picture becomes even clearer, or murkier, depending on your political persuasion.
In stark contrast, the chart for bin Laden’s demise is unequivocal in its clarity of purpose. When the raid began at 1:30 AM local time in Abbottabad, the 28 Capricorn Ascendant had just crossed the USA natal Pluto, projecting the country’s power and desire for revenge. The Sun at 11 Taurus lies at the 17 Taurus Nadir, the foundation of the chart, close by asteroid House at 12 Taurus, representing both the White House which initiated the raid and the mansion which housed bin Laden, and all these points conjoin bin Laden’s natal asteroid Washingtonia at 13 Taurus. The Sun is exactly inconjunct transit Saturn (ancient lord of death, also representing the President) at 11 Libra, itself conjoined the Ascendant, Mercury, George and Osamu for the 9/11 attacks, for which this was the long-deferred retaliation. The Sun also opposes transit asteroid Washingtonia at 13 Scorpio, conjunct the 17 Scorpio MC, with asteroid America at 13 Cancer exactly trined Washingtonia and exactly conjunct the USA Sun. Additionally, Washingtonia and America are exactly sextile and opposed bin Laden’s natal Osamu at 13 Capricorn, eclipsed the previous January.
An exact Mars/Jupiter conjunction at 22 Aries signals political (Jupiter) assassination/execution (Mars), and is conjoined by the Moon (once again representing bin Laden’s home, and also his physical body) at 24 Aries. Transit asteroid Barry (for Barack Obama, the name by which he was known in youth) at 4 Leo is exactly conjunct transit asteroid Requiem (the funeral mass for the dead), also atop bin Laden’s natal Uranus (bombings, planes, sudden shocks and upsets) at 3 Leo, and exactly inconjunct to transit asteroid Osamu and Chiron (wounds, mavericks), both at 4 Pisces, within orb of transit Neptune (zealot, martyr) at 0 Pisces. This basic inconjunct becomes a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, when we factor in a second inconjunct from Barry/Requiem to transit Pluto (modern lord of death) and asteroid Atropos (the Fate who severs the thread of life at death) at 7 and 5 Capricorn. This was a moment ten years in the making, and the skies well reflected the celestial timing that could no longer be avoided.
If we recall bin Laden’s ruling political dictum, that superpowers may be defeated by small forces waging wars of attrition which sap their resources and send their economies into a tailspin, then it may be as well to remember also what it is exactly that bin Laden cost us. The Afghan War, now America’s longest, with costs totaling some $455 billion to date; the Iraq War, falsely undertaken on the basis of nonexistent links between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, with an outright cost of $802 billion and a final tally, including disability and medical expenses for casualties, expected to exceed $3 trillion; the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which with its TSA agency has negatively revolutionized air travel and costs $56 billion annually (totaling some $450 billion since its inception in 2003); further enhanced security measures totaling some $29 billion; a Grand Total approaching $5 trillion, a sum representing more than third of the national debt. Add in also the implementation of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, AKA legalized torture; and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, granting unprecedented surveillance and privacy intrusion powers to the federal government. America is not the country it was on 10 September 2011, and it never will be again.
Yes, bin Laden is dead. But who won?