I believe all physical violence is unjust, and terrorism by definition is the use of violence against civilians in order to achieve political goals. The following quote from Robert Fisk is useful to put Osama bin Laden in context, after his recent assassination by Navy Seal commandos in Alottabad in Pakistan. The interesting thing to note is the gap between this account and the western media account of bin Laden:
“When the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudi royal family–encouraged by the CIA–sought to provide the Afghans with an Arab legion, preferably led by a Saudi prince, who would lead a guerrilla force against the Russians. Not only would he disprove the popularly held and all too accurate belief that the Saudi leadership effete and corrupt, he could re-establish the honourable tradition of Gulf Arab warrior, heedless of his own life in defending the umma, the community of Islam. True to form, the Saudi princes declined the noble mission. Bin Laden, infuriated at both their cowardice and the humiliation of the Afghan Muslims at the hand of the Soviets, took their place, and with money and machinery from his own construction company, set off on his own personal jihad.
A billionaire businessman and himself a Saudi, albeit of humbler Yemeni descent, in the coming years he would be idolised by both Saudis and millions of other Arabs, the stuff of Arab schoolboy legend from the Gulf to the Meditteranean. Not since the British glorified Lawrence of Arabia had an adventurer portrayed in so heroic, so influential a role. Egyptians, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Algerians, Syrians, and Palestinians made their way to the Pakistani border town of Peshawar to fight alongside bin Laden. But when the Afghan mujahideen guerillas and bin Laden’s Arab legions had driven the Soviets from Afghanistan, the Afghans turned against each other with wolflike and tribal venom. Sickened by this perversion of Islam–original dissension within the umma led to the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims–bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden once more offered his services to the Saudi royal family. They did not need to invite United States to defend the two holiest shrines of Islam, he argued … Bin Laden would lead his “Afghans”, his Arab mujahideen against the Iraqi army from within Kuwait. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia preferred to put his trust with the Americans. So as the US 82nd Airborne Division arrived in the northeastern Saudi city of Dhahran and deployed in the desert roughly 500 miles from the city of Medina–place of Islam’s prophet’s refuge and first Islamic society–bin Laden abandoned the corruption of the House of Saud to “bestow” his generosity to another “Islamic Republic”, Sudan … ”