The World's Ten Most Evil Men

The World's Ten Most Evil Men

by Nigel Cawthorne


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There are plenty of misguided, violent, and unpleasant people in the world, but how many can be classified as truly evil? In this hard-hitting collection, acclaimed author Nigel Cawthorne examines 10 of the most sickeningly twisted men who are still alive today. Some of them, like serial killer Dennis Nilsen and cult leader Charles Manson, are thankfully behind bars. Others, including the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, are still at large. Unbelievably, one of them, Robert Mugabe, is still clinging to the reins of power and continues to inflict suffering and economic mayhem on the desperate people of Zimbabwe.

Inside this book is the gut-twisting story of Charles Taylor, the blood-soaked African general who has "recruited" thousands of child soldiers, and one of the most shocking cases of recent years: that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who imprisoned and sexually abused his own daughter for almost 25 years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844547456
Publisher: John Blake Publishing, Limited
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Pages: 246
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Nigel Cawthorne is the author of many books, including A History of Pirates, Serial Killers and Mass Murderers, and Witches.

Read an Excerpt

The World's Ten Most Evil Men

From Twisted Dictators to Child Killers ...

By Nigel Cawthorne

John Blake Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2009 Nigel Cawthorne
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84454-745-6



On the morning of Tuesday, 11 September 2001, four US airliners were hijacked. Two of the planes, filled with passengers, were deliberately crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, starting fires that eventually destroyed the 110-storey buildings. A third was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. On board a fourth plane, believed to be heading for the White House, the passengers fought back against the hijackers. As a result, the aircraft crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, some 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. In all, some 3,000 people lost their lives.

A few hours after the Twin Towers collapsed, the Bush administration concluded that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation were to blame, though bin Laden has actually never been formally indicted for the attacks. Soon the British government also came to the decision that bin Laden was to blame. Although bin Laden appears on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, this is for the bombing of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998 when over 200 were killed. The wanted poster does, however, state: 'In addition, bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world' and also mentions that he is 'considered armed and extremely dangerous'. And there is a price on his head: 'The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Usama Bin Laden. An additional $2million is being offered through a program developed and funded by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.'

At first, bin Laden denied involvement in the attacks, referring to them through an aide as 'punishment from Allah'. Later, he took responsibility for 'inspiring' the events of September 11 although according to him, the attacks were down to the US for supporting Israel. Then, on video tape aired on the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera on 29 October 2004, bin Laden admitted that al-Qaeda had decided that they 'should destroy towers in America' because they were 'a free people ... and we want to regain the freedom of our nation.'

Finally, in another video tape released through Al-Jazeera on 23 May 2006, he admitted: 'I am the man responsible for the recruitment of the 19 people who carried out the attacks.' This came two weeks after Zacarias Moussaoui, a would-be hijacker captured during flight-training two weeks before 9/11, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on four counts of conspiracy.

'Brother Zacarias Moussaoui has no connection whatever with the 11 September operation,' said bin Laden, adding that Moussaoui's confession was, 'null and void, because it was extracted under pressure.'

Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organisation run and trained by Osama bin Laden, has also been responsible for attacks in the Yemen, Riyadh, Bali, Jakarta, Tunisia, Casablanca and Istanbul, as well as inspiring bombings in Madrid and London. It is linked to other terrorist groups across the Islamic world, and under the inspiration of bin Laden, it has declared a jihad or 'Holy War' against the US and the West itself. No one can say how many deaths bin Laden has been responsible for; what we can be sure of is that he has promoted hatred and bloodshed on a global scale and the death toll that can be laid at his door will continue to accumulate with the passing years.

Osama bin Laden was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was one of more than 50 children of one of Saudi Arabia's richest families. His father, Muhammed Awad bin Laden, was a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Originally from Yemeni, Muhammed bin Laden moved to Saudi Arabia as a youth, when he began a construction company. Soon, he became so successful that he could lend money to King Faisal, who issued a royal decree awarding all future construction projects to bin Laden's company. As a result, the bin Ladens became the richest non-royals in Saudi Arabia with a company grossing US$5 billion a year.

Muhammed bin Laden married 22 times. Born in Riyadh on 10 March 1957, Osama was his sixteenth child and his only son by his tenth wife Hamida, a Syrian thought to be more cosmopolitan that his other Wahhabi wives. Soon after Osama was born, his parents divorced and his mother married Muhammad al-Attas. The couple had four children, and the young Osama lived in the new household with three stepbrothers and one stepsister.

Although he was raised a devout Sunni Muslim, from 1968 to 1976 Osama bin Laden was educated at an élite secular school in Jeddah, where the pupils wore a Western-style school uniform. Reports on his further education are confused: he himself claims to have studied Economics and Business Administration at King Abdul Aziz University. Formal biographies say he earned a degree in Civil Engineering in 1979, or a degree in Public Administration in 1981, but other sources state that, though he was reportedly 'hard-working', bin Laden dropped out of university during the third year before sitting his degree. The implication is that his main interest was religion and he spent his time 'interpreting the Koran and jihad', as well as doing charitable work. It seems that, along the way, he dropped the liberal Sunni beliefs of his mother and became a hard-line Wahhabi, a puritan sect dominant in Saudi Arabia that stresses a literal belief in the Koran and the establishment of a Muslim state based solely on Islamic Sharia law.

In 1974, at the age of 17, bin Laden married his 14-year-old cousin Najwa Ghanem, a Syrian, in Latakia. She went on to become the mother of some 11 of his children including Saaden bin Laden, a stalwart of al-Qaeda. Saaden is thought to have been responsible for the suicide bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia on 11 April 2002, which killed 19 and wounded 30. He is also thought to have been behind another suicide bombing in Riyadh on 12 May and a further attack in Morocco just four days later. Besides Najwa, Osama bin Laden is reported to have married three other women, as permitted under Muslim law, and he has fathered up to 24 children.

While bin Laden attended university in 1979, several crucial events occurred on the world stage. In February of that year the US-backed Shah of Iran was ousted following an Islamic Revolution under the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Meanwhile, the Communist government in Kabul called on the Soviet Union for support in their fight against regional groups, who became known collectively as the mujahideen – which means 'those who engage in jihad'. By the end of that year, Soviet helicopters, tanks and two motorised rifle divisions were in action in Afghanistan.

After leaving college, bin Laden travelled to Afghanistan to join the Palestinian scholar Abdullah Azzam, who was recruiting international volunteers and raising funds for the mujahideen. The Afghan jihad was backed by American money and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. According to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian, bin Laden received security training from the CIA, who also provided money and weapons to the mujahideen. America saw the struggle in Afghanistan as part of the Cold War. US politicians, including National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, saw no danger in Muslim fundamentalism. Rather, they regarded the fundamentalists as allies in the global struggle against Communism and the Soviet Union.

In 1984, Azzam and bin Laden set up the Maktab al-Khidamat organisation using bin Laden's family fortune. Also known as the Afghan Services Bureau, it funnelled money, arms and Muslim fighters recruited around the Arabic world into the Afghan war. MAK was run through Peshawar, where it maintained a close liaison with the Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence and the CIA. The organisation also opened recruitment and fundraising centres in Arab and Western countries, including 33 such centres in the US.

By 1988, bin Laden had split from Maktab al-Khidamat. While Azzam continued to provide material support for Afghan fighters, bin Laden sought a more active role. One key dispute was over Azzam's insistence that Arab fighters recruited from abroad should be integrated into Afghan fighting groups, while bin Laden believed that they should form their own separate fighting force. This was to be the beginnings of al-Qaeda (which means 'the base' although the name did not emerge until much later).

Armed with modern weapons supplied by the Americans and with highly motivated fighters, the mujahideen were more than a match for the Red Army. Afghanistan turned into the Soviet Union's Vietnam and Moscow began to withdraw its troops. The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan in February 1989.

Around that time bin Laden also came under the influence of Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Although Azzam was a believer in global jihad, he felt that the first priority should be to set up an Islamic government in post-war Afghanistan. Al-Zawahiri, in contrast, favoured using the assets of the MAK to overthrow governments in Muslim countries deemed to be too un-Islamic. In November 1989, Azzam died in a car bombing, for which the EIJ were under suspicion. With the death of Azzam, many MAK members moved over to bin Laden's new organisation.

That month, al-Qaeda gained another key recruit. Also in November 1989, Ali Mohamed, a former Special Forces sergeant stationed at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, left military service and moved to Santa Clara, California. He travelled to Pakistan and then Afghanistan, where he became involved with bin Laden's plans. The following year, on 8 November 1990, the FBI raided the New Jersey apartment of Mohammed's associate El Sayyid Nosair and discovered Special Warfare Center manuals, books on bomb-making and evidence of terrorist plots, including plans to blow up New York City skyscrapers. Nosair was eventually convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Bin Laden contributed $20,000 towards his defence.

Though the Red Army has withdrawn from Afghanistan, the civil war continued, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the government in Kabul fell and the mujahideen took over. They were a disparate group, made up of numerous local factions, however, and the result was anarchy. Order was restored when the Taliban, an army of religious students under the ultra-pious former mujahideen fighter Mullah Mohammad Omar, took over in 1994.

Bin Laden had left the country long before. In 1990, he returned to Saudi Arabia, a hero of jihad: it was said that he and his Arab legion had brought down the mighty superpower of the Soviet Union – though, in fact, foreign fighters made only a minor contribution to the struggle. However, after spending his time among fundamentalists who were happy to lay down their lives for Islam, bin Laden rallied against the corruption of the Saudi government and that of his own family.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, posing an immediate threat to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden met the Crown Prince and offered his Arab fighters to King Fahd to defend Saudi Arabia. Instead, King Fahd accepted the support of the US and NATO, meaning foreign, non-Muslim troops would be stationed on Saudi territory. Bin Laden was appalled. Their presence, he argued, defiled the sacred soil of the 'land of two mosques', meaning the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. His vocal criticism of the Saudi monarchy provoked government attempts to silence him.

Aided by ex-Green Beret Ali Mohammed, bin Laden moved to Sudan in 1992. This was at the invitation of the Islamic scholar and leader of Sudan's National Islamic Front Hassan al-Turabi, following an Islamist coup d'état. There, bin Laden set up legitimate businesses, including a tannery, two large farms and a road construction company. The Sudanese leaders were delighted that the wealthy Saudi was investing in their fledgling Islamic state, but when Saudi Arabia pressured Pakistan to get rid of the mujahedeen living along the border with Afghanistan, bin Laden reportedly paid for the 480 Afghan veterans to come and work for him. With their assistance, he set up camps to train insurgents, while continuing his verbal assaults on King Fahd. On 5 March 1994, Fahd retaliated by personally revoking his citizenship and sending an emissary to Sudan to seize bin Laden's passport. Bin Laden's family also cut off his allowance amounting to around $7million a year.

By then, bin Laden had already begun his global jihad. In 1992 he sent an emissary named Qari el-Said with $40,000 to Algeria to aid the Islamists there and to warn them not to compromise with the impious secular government. In the civil war that resulted, an estimated 150,000–200,000 Algerians have died. Civilians have been massacred, and journalists and politicians assassinated.

On 29 December 1992, al-Qaeda set off bombs outside two hotels in Aden, Yemen. The target was American soldiers, on their way to take part in Operation Restore Hope, in support of the United Nation's famine relief programme in Somalia. In fact, the US soldiers were billeted elsewhere. However, two people were killed – an Australian tourist and a Yemeni hotel worker – and seven more, mostly Yemenis, severely injured. This was justified by al-Qaeda theoretician and co-founder Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, aka Abu Hajer al Iraqi, by reference to two medieval fatwas, which ruled that killing innocent bystanders was OK because if they were good Muslims, they would go to paradise ... and if they weren't, it didn't matter.

As a result of the attack in Yemen, Sudan was placed on the State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorist activities. At the time, the US government believed that bin Laden's followers were trying to obtain the components to build nuclear weapons and, with Sudan's National Islamic Front, they began to work developing chemical arms.

On 26 February 1993, a car bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,500-lb device was intended to knock Tower One onto Tower Two, bringing both towers down and killing up to 250,000 people. As it was, the towers shook and swayed, but the foundations held. On that occasion only six people were killed and 1,042 injured. The blast caused nearly $300million of damage to property.

The attackers had received funding from al-Qaeda member Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Their leader was Khalid's nephew Ramzi Yousef. He had been trained in a camp in Afghanistan and has been linked via co-conspirators to El Sayyid Nosair in New Jersey, where the bomb was assembled. In tapped telephone conversations, 'al-Qaeda' was mentioned. After the attack on the World Trade Center, it is alleged that Yousef took part in an attempt to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, in the summer of 1993. Then, with his uncle Khalid and Afghan-war veteran Wali Khan Amin Shah, Yousef planned to assassinate Pope John Paul II, or perhaps US President Bill Clinton, during a visit to the Philippines, crash a plane into the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and blow up 11 airliners on their way from Asia to the United States, killing around 4,000 passengers. Again, the plot was funded by bin Laden.

Yousef began making bombs, which he planned to conceal under the seats of the aircraft. On 1 December 1994, one such bomb was tested by placing it under the seat of the Greenbelt Theater in Manila. It went off, injuring several theatregoers. A second bomb was tested on 11 December when Yousef placed it under the seat of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 from Manila to Tokyo, with a stopover in the city of Cebu. He got off at Cebu, his seat taken by 24-year-old Japanese businessman Haruki Ikegami. Four hours later, the bomb went off, blowing Haruki in half and injuring ten other passengers. It blew a large hole in the cabin floor and damaged the rudder control. The crew made an emergency landing at Okinawa, saving the lives of the 272 other passengers and 20 crewmembers. By then, Yousef had made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. He was arrested in an al-Qaeda safe house is Islamabad and extradited to the US. At his trial, he admitted: 'Yes, I am a terrorist and am proud of it.'


Excerpted from The World's Ten Most Evil Men by Nigel Cawthorne. Copyright © 2009 Nigel Cawthorne. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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