I have said many times that in Saudi Arabia Osama bin Laden was a hero of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan (1979-1989), and that in 1991 he became an enemy of the Saudi King, when the Saudi King invited the Americans to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, he had taken under his control the oil fields of Kuwait, and the Iraqi army was very close to the Saudi oil fields.
Osama bin Laden wanted a local army to fight Saddam Hussein, probably under his leadership, and called the Saudi King an apostate when he brought the Americans to the Holy Lands of Saudi Arabia. For the Saudi King it was a much safer bet to invite the Americans, because they had a much stronger army, and he would not face the risk of a hero, whether Osama or somebody else, who could make a coup and overturn him.
In 1992 Osama bin Laden went to Sudan, the strongest ally of Iran at the time, and Iran, Sudan and Hezbollah trained his men. Iran and Osama bin Laden had the same enemies i.e. the crusaders (NATO) and the Muslim apostates (the Saudi King). One of the many unholy alliances. See “The Hezbollah-Al Qaeda Axis”.
In1996 Osama bin Landen left Sudan and went to Afghanistan, where he was given refuge by the Taliban. Remember that it is the time the Taliban take control of Afghanistan (1996-2001), and the Clinton administration negotiates with the Taliban, asking them to allow the pipelines for the oil and gas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, in exchange for international recognition for their cruel government. See “The Afghan Oil Pipeline and the US Negotiations with the Taliban”.
Negotiations almost collapsed between the Clinton administration and the Taliban when bin Laden’s men attacked the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, with 200 dead and hundreds of others being wounded. And when George Bush restarted the negotiations in 2001, Osama came back with a more spectacular attack at the Twin Towers (9/11), and negotiations were over, and the Americans invaded Afghanistan.
The story goes that Osama bin Laden lived in caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the period 2001-2011, until the American navy seals killed him in Pakistan, where he was hiding.
However as you can read at the following Fox News article, there were rumors that Osama was leading a comfortable life in Iran, enjoying full protection from the Iranian government. Obviously I do not know whether this is true or not, but it is a well known fact that Iran very often accommodated Al Qaeda leaders. See Foreign Affairs “Al Qaeda in Iran: Why Tehran is Accommodating the Terrorist Group”, January 2012.
I think it is convenient for Iran to accommodate Al Qaeda leaders, because even though Iran and Al Qaeda had common enemies i.e. USA and the Saudi King, they were still enemies. And we all saw them killing each other when the Syrian Arab Spring broke out in 2011. By having Al Qaeda leaders leaving in Iran, the Iranians were sure that Al Qaeda would honor their agreements.
There was also the documentary claiming that Osama bin Laden was leaving in Iran. A documentary made by an ex consultant of the Shah of Iran, who started working for the Al Sauds when the Shah was overturned by the Islamists. He, together with an ex-CIA agent, claimed that Osama had a comfortable leaving in Iran for a few years.
What makes this story more plausible is that one of the daughters of Osama bin Laden asked for asylum in the Saudi embassy in Tehran, supposedly having escaped from the house she was leaving with her father. See New York Times “Bin Laden Daughter in Iran Seeks Refuge”, December 2009.
The truth is that it would surprise nobody if Iran had accommodated bin Laden for a while. The Iranians have done it with other Al Qaeda leaders, so why not with Osama bin Laden too? And I think for our understanding of terrorism it is more important that it could have happened than whether it actually happened.
“Usama Bin Laden Is Living Comfortably in Iran, Documentary Asserts”, May 2010
“Al Qaeda in Iran: Why Tehran is Accommodating the Terrorist Group”, January 2012
“Bin Laden Daughter in Iran Seeks Refuge”, December 2009
“The Terrorist Groups Lashkar e Taiba and Haqqani Network”.
“Osama bin Laden ‘living in luxury in Iran”, May 2010