The organization was founded in a series of meetings held in
apostates from Islam), and against the US. During 1992–1996, al-Qaeda established its headquarters in Sudan until it was expelled in 1996. It shifted its base to the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and later expanded to other parts of the world, primarily in the Middle East and South Asia
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, was responsible for numerous sectarian attacks against Shias during its Iraqi insurgency. Al-Qaeda ideologues envision the violent removal of all foreign and secular influences in Muslim countries, which it denounces as corrupt deviations. Following the death of bin Laden in 2011, al-Qaeda vowed to avenge his killing. The group was then led by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri until his death in 2022. As of 2021[update], it has reportedly suffered from a deterioration of central command over its regional operations.
Al-Qaeda only indirectly controls its day-to-day operations. Its philosophy calls for the
centralization of decision making, while allowing for the decentralization of execution. The top leaders of Al-Qaeda have defined the organization's ideology and guiding strategy, and they have also articulated simple and easy-to-receive messages. At the same time, mid-level organizations were given autonomy, but they had to consult with top management before large-scale attacks and assassinations. Top management included the shura council as well as committees on military operations, finance, and information sharing. Through the information committees of Al-Qaeda, Zawahiri placed special emphasis on communicating with his groups. However, after the war on terror, Al-Qaeda's leadership has become isolated. As a result, the leadership has become decentralized, and the organization has become regionalized into several Al-Qaeda groups.
Many terrorism experts do not believe that the global jihadist movement is driven at every level by Al-Qaeda's leadership. However, bin Laden held considerable ideological sway over some
Muslim extremists before his death. Experts argue that Al-Qaeda has fragmented into a number of disparate regional movements, and that these groups bear little connection with one another.
This view mirrors the account given by Osama bin Laden in his October 2001 interview with Tayseer Allouni:
this matter isn't about any specific person and... is not about the al-Qa'idah Organization. We are the children of an Islamic Nation, with Prophet Muhammad as its leader, our Lord is one... and all the true believers [mu'mineen] are brothers. So the situation isn't like the West portrays it, that there is an 'organization' with a specific name (such as 'al-Qa'idah') and so on. That particular name is very old. It was born without any intention from us. Brother Abu Ubaida... created a military base to train the young men to fight against the vicious, arrogant, brutal, terrorizing Soviet empire... So this place was called 'The Base' ['Al-Qa'idah'], as in a training base, so this name grew and became. We aren't separated from this nation. We are the children of a nation, and we are an inseparable part of it, and from those public demonstrations which spread from the far east, from the Philippines to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to India, to Pakistan, reaching Mauritania... and so we discuss the conscience of this nation.
As of 2010[update] however, Bruce Hoffman saw Al-Qaeda as a cohesive network that was strongly led from the Pakistani tribal areas.
Osama bin Laden (left) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (right) photographed in 2001
Osama bin Laden served as the emir of Al-Qaeda from the organization's founding in 1988 until his assassination by US forces on May 1, 2011.Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was alleged to be second in command prior to his death on August 22, 2011.
Bin Laden was advised by a Shura Council, which consists of senior Al-Qaeda members. The group was estimated to consist of 20–30 people.
After May 2011
Ayman al-Zawahiri had been Al-Qaeda's deputy emir and assumed the role of emir following bin Laden's death. Al-Zawahiri replaced Saif al-Adel, who had served as interim commander.
On June 5, 2012, Pakistani intelligence officials announced that al-Rahman's alleged successor as second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, had been killed in Pakistan.
Nasir al-Wuhayshi was alleged to have become Al-Qaeda's overall second in command and general manager in 2013. He was concurrently the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) until he was killed by a US airstrike in Yemen in June 2015.Abu Khayr al-Masri, Wuhayshi's alleged successor as the deputy to Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed by a US airstrike in Syria in February 2017. Al Qaeda's next alleged number two leader, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, was killed by Israeli agents. His pseudonym was Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who was killed in November 2020 in Iran. He was involved in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Al-Qaeda's network was built from scratch as a conspiratorial network which drew upon the leadership of a number of regional nodes. The organization divided itself into several committees, which include:
The Military Committee, which is responsible for training operatives, acquiring weapons, and planning attacks.
The Money/Business Committee, which funds the recruitment and training of operatives through the
terrorist financing" were most successful in the year immediately following the September 11 attacks. Al-Qaeda continues to operate through unregulated banks, such as the 1,000 or so hawaladars in Pakistan, some of which can handle deals of up to US$10million. The committee also procures false passports, pays Al-Qaeda members, and oversees profit-driven businesses. In the 9/11 Commission Report
, it was estimated that Al-Qaeda required $30million per year to conduct its operations.
The Law Committee reviews
, and decides upon courses of action conform to it.
The Islamic Study/
Committee issues religious edicts, such as an edict in 1998 telling Muslims to kill Americans.
The Media Committee ran the now-defunct newspaper Nashrat al Akhbar (English: Newscast) and handled public relations.
In 2005, Al-Qaeda formed As-Sahab, a media production house, to supply its video and audio materials.
After Al-Zawahiri (2022 - present)
Al-Zawahiri was killed on July 31, 2022 in a drone strike in Afghanistan.
Afghan government in acknowledging the death of Al-Zawahiri as well as due to "theological and operational" challenges posed by the location of al-Adel in Iran.
Most of Al Qaeda's top leaders and operational directors were veterans who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, were the leaders who were considered the operational commanders of the organization.
Muslim World. The central leadership assumes control of the doctrinal approach and overall propaganda campaign; while the regional commanders were empowered with independence in military strategy and political maneuvering. This novel heirarchy made it possible for the organisation to launch wide-range offensives.
When asked in 2005 about the possibility of Al-Qaeda's connection to the
Sir Ian Blair said: "Al-Qaeda is not an organization. Al-Qaeda is a way of working... but this has the hallmark of that approach... Al-Qaeda clearly has the ability to provide training... to provide expertise... and I think that is what has occurred here." On August 13, 2005, The Independent newspaper, reported that the July7 bombers had acted independently of an Al-Qaeda mastermind.
Nasser al-Bahri, who was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard for four years in the run-up to 9/11 wrote in his memoir a highly detailed description of how the group functioned at that time. Al-Bahri described Al-Qaeda's formal administrative structure and vast arsenal.
1998 US embassy bombings
in East Africa. Curtis wrote:
The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. But there was no organization. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. He was not their commander. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term "al-Qaeda" to refer to the name of a group until after September 11 attacks, when he realized that this was the term the Americans had given it.
During the 2001 trial, the US Department of Justice needed to show that bin Laden was the leader of a criminal organization in order to charge him in absentia under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The name of the organization and details of its structure were provided in the testimony of Jamal al-Fadl, who said he was a founding member of the group and a former employee of bin Laden. Questions about the reliability of al-Fadl's testimony have been raised by a number of sources because of his history of dishonesty, and because he was delivering it as part of a plea bargain agreement after being convicted of conspiring to attack US military establishments. Sam Schmidt, a defense attorney who defended al-Fadl said:
There were selective portions of al-Fadl's testimony that I believe was false, to help support the picture that he helped the Americans join together. I think he lied in a number of specific testimony about a unified image of what this organization was. It made al-Qaeda the new Mafia or the new Communists. It made them identifiable as a group and therefore made it easier to prosecute any person associated with al-Qaeda for any acts or statements made by bin Laden.
The number of individuals in the group who have undergone proper military training, and are capable of commanding insurgent forces, is largely unknown. Documents captured in the raid on bin Laden's compound in 2011 show that the core Al-Qaeda membership in 2002 was 170. In 2006, it was estimated that Al-Qaeda had several thousand commanders embedded in 40 countries. As of 2009[update], it was believed that no more than 200–300 members were still active commanders.
According to the 2004 BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, Al-Qaeda was so weakly linked together that it was hard to say it existed apart from bin Laden and a small clique of close associates. The lack of any significant numbers of convicted Al-Qaeda members, despite a large number of arrests on terrorism charges, was cited by the documentary as a reason to doubt whether a widespread entity that met the description of Al-Qaeda existed. Al-Qaeda's commanders, as well as its sleeping agents, are hiding in different parts of the world to this day. They are mainly hunted by the American and Israeli secret services.
According to author Robert Cassidy, Al-Qaeda maintains two separate forces which are deployed alongside insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan. The first, numbering in the tens of thousands, was "organized, trained, and equipped as insurgent combat forces" in the Soviet–Afghan war. The force was composed primarily of foreign mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Many of these fighters went on to fight in Bosnia and Somalia for global jihad. Another group, which numbered 10,000 in 2006, live in the West and have received rudimentary combat training.
Other analysts have described Al-Qaeda's rank and file as being "predominantly Arab" in its first years of operation, but that the organization also includes "other peoples" as of 2007[update]. It has been estimated that 62 percent of Al-Qaeda members have a university education. In 2011 and the following year, the Americans successfully settled accounts with Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, the organization's chief propagandist, and Abu Yahya al-Libi's deputy commander. The optimistic voices were already saying it was over for Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, it was around this time that the Arab Spring greeted the region, the turmoil of which came great to Al-Qaeda's regional forces. Seven years later, Ayman al-Zawahiri became arguably the number one leader in the organization, implementing his strategy with systematic consistency. Tens of thousands loyal to Al-Qaeda and related organizations were able to challenge local and regional stability and ruthlessly attack their enemies in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and Russia alike. In fact, from Northwest Africa to South Asia, Al-Qaeda had more than two dozen "franchise-based" allies. The number of Al-Qaeda militants was set at 20,000 in Syria alone, and they had 4,000 members in Yemen and about 7,000 in Somalia. The war was not over.
In 2001, Al-Qaeda had around 20 functioning cells and 70,000 insurgents spread over sixty nations. According to latest estimates, the number of active-duty soldiers under its command and allied militias have risen to approximately 250,000 by 2018.
Al-Qaeda usually does not disburse funds for attacks, and very rarely makes wire transfers.
heroin trade and donations from supporters in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic Gulf states. A WikiLeaks-released 2009 internal US government cable stated that "terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern."
Among the first pieces of evidence regarding Saudi Arabia's support for Al-Qaeda was the so-called "
Wael Hamza Julaidan. Batterjee was designated as a terror financier by the US Department of the Treasury in 2004, and Julaidan is recognized as one of Al-Qaeda's founders.
Documents seized during the 2002 Bosnia raid showed that Al-Qaeda widely exploited charities to channel financial and material support to its operatives across the globe. Notably, this activity exploited the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Muslim World League (MWL). The IIRO had ties with Al-Qaeda associates worldwide, including Al-Qaeda's deputy Ayman al Zawahiri. Zawahiri's brother worked for the IIRO in Albania and had actively recruited on behalf of Al-Qaeda. The MWL was openly identified by Al-Qaeda's leader as one of the three charities Al-Qaeda primarily relied upon for funding sources.
Several Qatari citizens have been accused of funding Al-Qaeda. This includes
US Treasury designated Nuaimi as a terrorist for his activities supporting Al-Qaeda. The US Treasury has said Nuaimi "has facilitated significant financial support to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and served as an interlocutor between Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Qatar-based donors".
Nuaimi was accused of overseeing a $2million monthly transfer to Al-Qaeda in Iraq as part of his role as mediator between Iraq-based Al-Qaeda senior officers and Qatari citizens. Nuaimi allegedly entertained relationships with Abu-Khalid al-Suri, Al-Qaeda's top envoy in Syria, who processed a $600,000 transfer to Al-Qaeda in 2013. Nuaimi is also known to be associated with Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, a Yemeni politician and founding member of Alkarama, who was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US Treasury in 2013. The US authorities claimed that Humayqani exploited his role in Alkarama to fundraise on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A prominent figure in AQAP, Nuaimi was also reported to have facilitated the flow of funding to AQAP affiliates based in Yemen. Nuaimi was also accused of investing funds in the charity directed by Humayqani to ultimately fund AQAP. About ten months after being sanctioned by the US Treasury, Nuaimi was also restrained from doing business in the UK.
Another Qatari citizen, Kalifa Mohammed Turki Subayi, was sanctioned by the US Treasury on June 5, 2008, for his activities as a "Gulf-based Al-Qaeda financier". Subayi's name was added to the
Qataris provided support to Al-Qaeda through the country's largest NGO, the Qatar Charity. Al-Qaeda defector al-Fadl, who was a former member of Qatar Charity, testified in court that Abdullah Mohammed Yusef, who served as Qatar Charity's director, was affiliated to Al-Qaeda and simultaneously to the National Islamic Front, a political group that gave Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden harbor in Sudan in the early 1990s.
It was alleged that in 1993
Sunni charities to channel financial support to Al-Qaeda operatives overseas. The same documents also report Bin Laden's complaint that the failed assassination attempt of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had compromised the ability of Al-Qaeda to exploit charities to support its operatives to the extent it was capable of before 1995.[citation needed
Qatar financed Al-Qaeda's enterprises through Al-Qaeda's former affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. The funding was primarily channeled through kidnapping for ransom. The Consortium Against Terrorist Finance (CATF) reported that the Gulf country has funded al-Nusra since 2013. In 2017, Asharq Al-Awsat estimated that Qatar had disbursed $25million in support of al-Nusra through kidnapping for ransom. In addition, Qatar has launched fundraising campaigns on behalf of al-Nusra. Al-Nusra acknowledged a Qatar-sponsored campaign "as one of the preferred conduits for donations intended for the group".
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(August 2016)
In the disagreement over whether Al-Qaeda's objectives are religious or political, Mark Sedgwick describes Al-Qaeda's strategy as political in the immediate term but with ultimate aims that are religious.
On March 11, 2005, Al-Quds Al-Arabi published extracts from Saif al-Adel's document "Al Qaeda's Strategy to the Year 2020".Abdel Bari Atwan summarizes this strategy as comprising five stages to rid the Ummah from all forms of oppression:
Provoke the United States and the West into invading a Muslim country by staging a massive attack or string of attacks on US soil that results in massive civilian casualties.
Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
Expand the conflict to neighboring countries and engage the US and its allies in a long war of attrition.
Convert Al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against the US and countries allied with the US until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the
July 7, 2005 London bombings
The US economy will finally collapse by 2020, under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places. This will lead to a collapse in the worldwide economic system, and lead to global political instability. This will lead to a global jihad led by Al-Qaeda, and a
According to Fouad Hussein, a Jordanian journalist and author who has spent time in prison with Al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda's strategy consists of seven phases and is similar to the plan described in Al Qaeda's Strategy to the year 2020. These phases include:
"The Awakening." This phase was supposed to last from 2001 to 2003. The goal of the phase is to provoke the United States to attack a Muslim country by executing an attack that kills many civilians on US soil.
"Opening Eyes." This phase was supposed to last from 2003 to 2006. The goal of this phase was to recruit young men to the cause and to transform the Al-Qaeda group into a movement. Iraq was supposed to become the center of all operations with financial and military support for bases in other states.
"Arising and Standing up", was supposed to last from 2007 to 2010. In this phase, Al-Qaeda wanted to execute additional attacks and focus their attention on Syria. Hussein believed other countries in the Arabian Peninsula were also in danger.
Al-Qaeda expected a steady growth among their ranks and territories due to the declining power of the regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. The main focus of attack in this phase was supposed to be on oil suppliers and cyberterrorism, targeting the US economy and military infrastructure.
The declaration of an Islamic Caliphate, which was projected between 2013 and 2016. In this phase, Al-Qaeda expected the resistance from Israel to be heavily reduced.
The declaration of an "Islamic Army" and a "fight between believers and non-believers", also called "total confrontation".
"Definitive Victory", projected to be completed by 2020.
According to the seven-phase strategy, the war is projected to last less than two years.
According to Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute and Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute, the new model of Al-Qaeda is to "socialize communities" and build a broad territorial base of operations with the support of local communities, also gaining income independent of the funding of sheiks.
The English name of the organization is a simplified
The doctrinal concept of "Al-Qaeda" was first coined by the
Abdullah Azzam in an April 1988 issue of Al-Jihad magazine to describe a religiously committed vanguard of Muslims who wage armed Jihad globally to liberate oppressed Muslims from foreign invaders, establish sharia (Islamic law) across the Islamic World by overthrowing the ruling secular governments; and thus restore the past Islamic prowess. This was to be implemented by establishing an Islamic state that would nurture generations of Muslim soldiers that would perpetually attack United States and its allied governments in the Muslim World. Numerous historical models were cited by Azzam as successful examples of his call; starting from the early Muslim conquests of the 7th century to the recent anti-SovietAfghan Jihad of 1980s. According to Azzam's world-view:
"It is about time to think about a state that would be a solid base for the distribution of the (Islamic) creed, and a fortress to host the preachers from the hell of the Jahiliyyah [the pre-Islamic period]."
Bin Laden explained the origin of the term in a videotaped interview with
in October 2001:
The name 'al-Qaeda' was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahedeen against Russia's terrorism. We used to call the training camp al-Qaeda. The name stayed.
It has been argued that two documents seized from the Sarajevo office of the Benevolence International Foundation prove the name was not simply adopted by the mujahideen movement and that a group called Al-Qaeda was established in August 1988. Both of these documents contain minutes of meetings held to establish a new military group, and contain the term "Al-Qaeda".
Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote that the word Al-Qaeda should be translated as "the database", because it originally referred to the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen militants who were recruited and trained with CIA help to defeat the Russians. In April 2002, the group assumed the name Qa'idat al-Jihad (قاعدة الجهادqāʿidat al-jihād), which means "the base of Jihad". According to Diaa Rashwan, this was "apparently as a result of the merger of the overseas branch of Egypt's al-Jihad, which was led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, with the groups Bin Laden brought under his control after his return to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s."
, the Egyptian Islamic scholar and Jihadist theorist who inspired Al-Qaeda
Muslim community to come into existence which believes that ‘there is no deity except God,’ which commits itself to obey none but God, denying all other authority, and which challenges the legality of any law which is not based on this belief.. . It should come into the battlefield with the determination that its strategy, its social organization, and the relationship between its individuals should be firmer and more powerful than the existing jahili system."
Islam is different from any other religion; it's a way of life. We [Khalifa and bin Laden] were trying to understand what Islam has to say about how we eat, who we marry, how we talk. We read Sayyid Qutb. He was the one who most affected our generation.
Qutb also influenced Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri's uncle and maternal family patriarch, Mafouz Azzam, was Qutb's student, protégé, personal lawyer, and an executor of his estate. Azzam was one of the last people to see Qutb alive before his execution. Zawahiri paid homage to Qutb in his work Knights under the Prophet's Banner.
Qutb argued that many Muslims were not true Muslims. Some Muslims, Qutb argued, were apostates. These alleged apostates included leaders of Muslim countries, since they failed to enforce sharia law. He also alleged that the West approaches the Muslim World with a "crusading spirit"; in spite of the decline of religious values in the 20th century Europe. According to Qutb; the hostile and imperialist attitudes exhibited by Europeans and Americans towards Muslim countries, their support for Zionism, etc. reflected hatred amplified over a millennia of wars such as the Crusades and was born out of Romanmaterialist and utilitarian outlooks that viewed the world in monetary terms.
"Sayyid Ahmed's revival of the ideology of jihad became the prototype for subsequent Islamic militant movements in South and Central Asia and is also the main influence over the jihad network of Al Qaeda and its associated groups in the region."
The long-term objective of Al-Qaeda is to unite the Muslim World under a supra-national Islamic state known as the Khilafah (Caliphate), headed by an elected Caliph descended from the Ahl al-Bayt (Prophetic family). The immediate objectives include the expulsion of American troops from the Arabian Peninsula, waging armed Jihad to topple US-allied governments in the region, etc.
The following are the goals and some of the general policies outlined in Al-Qaeda's Founding Charter "Al-Qaeda's Structure and Bylaws" issued in the meetings in Peshawar in 1988.:
i. To promote
ii. To prepare and equip the cadres for the Islamic world through trainings and by participating in actual combat
iii. To support and sponsor the jihad movement as much as possible
iv. To coordinate Jihad movements around the world in an effort to create a unified international Jihad movement.
1. Complete commitment to the governing rules and controls of
who serve in this domain
2. Commitment to Jihad as a fight for God’s cause and as an agenda of change and to prepare for it and apply it whenever we find it possible...
4. Our position with respect to the tyrants of the world, secular and national parties and the like is not to associate with them, to discredit them and to be their constant enemy till they believe in God alone. We shall not agree with them on half-solutions and there is no way to negotiate with them or appease them
5. Our relationships with truthful Islamic jihadist movements and groups is to cooperate under the umbrella of faith and belief and we shall always attempt to at uniting and integrating with them...
6. We shall carry a relationship of love and affection with the Islamic movements who are not aligned with Jihad...
7. We shall sustain a relationship of respect and love with active scholars...
9. We shall reject the regional fanatics and will pursue Jihad in an Islamic country as needed and when possible
10. We shall care about the role of Muslim people in the Jihad and we shall attempt to recruit them...
11. We shall maintain our economic independence and will not rely on others to secure our resources.
12. Secrecy is the main ingredient of our work except for what the need deems necessary to reveal
13. our policy with the
Afghani Jihad is support, advise and coordination with the Islamic Establishments in Jihad arenas in a manner that conforms with our policies"
— Al-Qa`ida’s Structure and Bylaws, p.2, 
"We demand... the government of the rightly guiding caliphate, which is established on the basis of the sovereignty of sharia and not on the whims of the majority. Its ummah chooses its rulers....If they deviate, the ummah brings them to account and removes them. The ummah participates in producing that government's decisions and determining its direction. ... [The caliphal state] commands the right and forbids the wrong and engages in jihad to liberate Muslim lands and to free all humanity from all oppression and ignorance."
A recurring theme in al-Qaeda's ideology is the perpetual grievance over the violent subjugation of Islamic dissidents by the authoritarian,
While the leadership's own theological platform is essentially Salafi, the organization's umbrella is sufficiently wide to encompass various schools of thought and political leanings. Al-Qaeda counts among its members and supporters people associated with
Shia Muslim and non-Muslim members. The top-down chain of command means that each unit is answerable directly to central leadership, while they remain ignorant of their counterparts' presence or activities. These transnational networks of autonomous supply chains, financiers, underground militias and political supporters were set up during the 1990s, when Bin Laden's immediate aim was the expulsion of American troops from the Arabian Peninsula.
Attacks on civilians
Following its 9/11 attack and in response to its condemnation by Islamic scholars, al-Qaeda provided a justification for the killing of non-combatants/civilians, entitled, "A Statement from Qaidat al-Jihad Regarding the Mandates of the Heroes and the Legality of the Operations in New York and Washington". According to a couple of critics, Quintan Wiktorowicz and John Kaltner, it provides "ample theological justification for killing civilians in almost any imaginable situation."
Among these justifications are that America is leading the west in waging a
War on Islam
so that attacks on America are a defense of Islam and any treaties and agreements between Muslim majority states and Western countries that would be violated by attacks are null and void. According to the tract, several conditions allow for the killing of civilians including:
retaliation for the American war on Islam which al-Qaeda alleges has targeted "Muslim women, children and elderly";
when it is too difficult to distinguish between non-combatants and combatants when attacking an enemy "stronghold" (hist) and/or non-combatants remain in enemy territory, killing them is allowed;
those who assist the enemy "in deed, word, mind" are eligible for killing, and this includes the general population in democratic countries because civilians can vote in elections that bring enemies of Islam to power;
the necessity of killing in the war to protect Islam and Muslims;
the prophet Muhammad, when asked whether the Muslim fighters could use the catapult against the village of
, replied affirmatively, even though the enemy fighters were mixed with a civilian population;
if the women, children and other protected groups serve as human shields for the enemy;
if the enemy has broken a treaty, killing of civilians is permitted.
The Guardian in 2009 described five distinct phases in the development of Al-Qaeda: its beginnings in the late 1980s, a "wilderness" period in 1990–1996, its "heyday" in 1996–2001, a network period from 2001 to 2005, and a period of fragmentation from 2005 to 2009.
Hezb-e Islami, amounted to more than $600million. In addition to American aid, Hekmatyar was the recipient of Saudi aid. In the early 1990s, after the US had withdrawn support, Hekmatyar "worked closely" with bin Laden.
At the same time, a growing number of Arab mujahideen joined the jihad against the
Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. Following the detention and death of Sananiri in an Egyptian security prison in 1981, Abdullah Azzam became the chief arbitrator between the Afghan Arabs and Afghan mujahideen.
As part of providing weaponry and supplies for the cause of Afghan Jihad, Usama Bin Laden was sent to Pakistan as a Muslim Brotherhood representative to the Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami. While in Peshawar, Bin Laden met Abdullah Azzam and the two of them jointly established the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) in 1984; with objective of raising funds and recruits for Afghan Jihad across the world. MAK organized guest houses in Peshawar, near the Afghan border, and gathered supplies for the construction of paramilitary training camps to prepare foreign recruits for the Afghan war front. MAK was funded by the Saudi government as well as by individual Muslims including Saudi businessmen.[page needed] Bin Laden also became a major financier of the mujahideen, spending his own money and using his connections to influence public opinion about the war. Many disgruntled members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood like Abu Mussab al-Suri also began joining these MAK networks; following the crushing of Islamic revolt in Syria in 1982.
From 1986, MAK began to set up a network of recruiting offices in the US, the hub of which was the Al Kifah Refugee Center at the Farouq Mosque on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue. Among notable figures at the Brooklyn center were "double agent" Ali Mohamed, whom FBI special agent Jack Cloonan called "bin Laden's first trainer", and "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman, a leading recruiter of mujahideen for Afghanistan. Azzam and bin Laden began to establish camps in Afghanistan in 1987.
MAK and foreign mujahideen volunteers, or "Afghan Arabs", did not play a major role in the war. While over 250,000 Afghan mujahideen fought the Soviets and the communist Afghan government, it is estimated that there were never more than two thousand foreign mujahideen on the field at any one time. Nonetheless, foreign mujahideen volunteers came from 43 countries, and the total number who participated in the Afghan movement between 1982 and 1992 is reported to have been 35,000. Bin Laden played a central role in organizing training camps for the foreign Muslim volunteers.
The Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. Mohammad Najibullah's Communist Afghan government lasted for three more years, before it was overrun by elements of the mujahideen.
Toward the end of the Soviet military mission in Afghanistan, some foreign mujahideen wanted to expand their operations to include Islamist struggles in other parts of the world, such as Palestine and Kashmir. A number of overlapping and interrelated organizations were formed, to further those aspirations. One of these was the organization that would eventually be called Al-Qaeda.
Research suggests that al-Qaeda was formed on August 11, 1988, when a meeting in Afghanistan between leaders of
Abdullah Azzam, and other Arab volunteers during the Soviet–Afghan War. An agreement was reached to link bin Laden's money with the expertise of the Islamic Jihad organization and take up the jihadist cause elsewhere after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan. After fighting the "holy" war, the group aimed to expand such operations to other parts of the world, setting up bases in parts of Africa, the Arab world and elsewhere, carrying out many attacks on people whom it considers kāfir.
Notes indicate Al-Qaeda was a formal group by August 20, 1988. A list of requirements for membership itemized the following: listening ability, good manners, obedience, and making a pledge (
Bay'at) to follow one's superiors. In his memoir, bin Laden's former bodyguard, Nasser al-Bahri, gives the only publicly available description of the ritual of giving bay'at when he swore his allegiance to the Al-Qaeda chief. According to Wright, the group's real name was not used in public pronouncements because "its existence was still a closely held secret."
After Azzam was assassinated in 1989 and MAK broke up, significant numbers of MAK followers joined bin Laden's new organization.
In November 1989,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, left military service and moved to California. He traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and became "deeply involved with bin Laden's plans." In 1991, Ali Mohammed is said to have helped orchestrate bin Laden's relocation to Sudan.
Following the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan in February 1989, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 had put the Kingdom and its ruling House of Saud at risk. The world's most valuable oil fields were within striking distance of Iraqi forces in Kuwait, and Saddam's call to Pan-Arabism could potentially rally internal dissent.
In the face of a seemingly massive Iraqi military presence, Saudi Arabia's own forces were outnumbered. Bin Laden offered the services of his mujahideen to King Fahd to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi army. The Saudi monarch refused bin Laden's offer, opting instead to allow US and allied forces to deploy troops into Saudi territory.
The deployment angered bin Laden, as he believed the presence of foreign troops in the "land of the two mosques" (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. King Fahd's refusal of Bin Laden's offer to train the Mujahidin; instead giving permission for American soldiers to enter Saudi territory inorder to repel Saddam Hussein's forces would greatly anger Bin Laden. The entry of American troops into Saudi Arabia was denounced by Bin Laden as a "Crusader Attack on Islam" that defiled the sacred lands of Islam. He asserted that the Arabian Peninsula has been "occupied" by foreign invaders and excommunicated the Saudi regime due to its complicity with United States. After speaking publicly against the Saudi government for harboring American troops and rejecting their legitimacy, he was banished and forced to live in exile in Sudan. Bin Laden also vehemently denounced the elder Wahhabi scholarship; most notably Grand MuftiAbd al-Azeez Ibn Baz, accusing him of partnering with infidel forces over his verdict that permitted the entry of US troops.
From around 1992 to 1996, Al-Qaeda and bin Laden based themselves in Sudan at the invitation of Islamist theoretician
Hassan al-Turabi. The move followed an Islamist coup d'état in Sudan, led by Colonel Omar al-Bashir
, who professed a commitment to reordering Muslim political values. During this time, bin Laden assisted the Sudanese government, bought or set up various business enterprises, and established training camps.
A key turning point for bin Laden occurred in 1993 when Saudi Arabia gave support for the Oslo Accords, which set a path for peace between Israel and Palestinians. Due to bin Laden's continuous verbal assault on King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Fahd sent an emissary to Sudan on March 5, 1994, demanding bin Laden's passport. Bin Laden's Saudi citizenship was also revoked. His family was persuaded to cut off his stipend, $7million a year, and his Saudi assets were frozen. His family publicly disowned him. There is controversy as to what extent bin Laden continued to garner support from members afterwards.
In 1993, a young schoolgirl was killed in an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the Egyptian prime minister,
Several sources dispute Ijaz's claim, including the 9/11 Commission, which concluded in part:
Sudan's minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the US. The Commission has found no credible evidence that this was so. Ambassador Carney had instructions only to push the Sudanese to expel Bin Ladin. Ambassador Carney had no legal basis to ask for more from the Sudanese since, at the time, there was no indictment out-standing.
After the fall of the Afghan communist regime in 1992, Afghanistan was effectively ungoverned for four years and plagued by constant infighting between various mujahideen groups.[
Salafi beliefs in its teachings, and much of its funding came from private donations from wealthy Arabs. Four of the Taliban's leaders attended a similarly funded and influenced madrassa in Kandahar. Bin Laden's contacts were laundering donations to these schools, and Islamic banks were used to transfer money to an "array" of charities which served as front groups for Al-Qaeda.
Many of the mujahideen who later joined the Taliban fought alongside Afghan warlord Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi's Harkat i Inqilabi group at the time of the Russian invasion. This group also enjoyed the loyalty of most Afghan Arab fighters.
The continuing lawlessness enabled the growing and well-disciplined Taliban to expand their control over territory in Afghanistan, and it came to establish an enclave which it called the
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In 1994, it captured the regional center of Kandahar, and after making rapid territorial gains thereafter, the Taliban captured the capital city Kabul
in September 1996.
In 1996, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan provided a perfect staging ground for Al-Qaeda.
"It is not a declaration of war - it's a real description of the situation. This doesn't mean declaring war against the West and Western people - but against the American regime which is against every Muslim."
While in Afghanistan, the Taliban government tasked Al-Qaeda with the training of Brigade 055, an elite element of the Taliban's army. The Brigade mostly consisted of foreign fighters, veterans from the Soviet Invasion, and adherents to the ideology of the mujahideen. In November 2001, as Operation Enduring Freedom had toppled the Taliban government, many Brigade 055 fighters were captured or killed, and those who survived were thought to have escaped into Pakistan along with bin Laden.
By the end of 2008, some sources reported that the Taliban had severed any remaining ties with Al-Qaeda, however, there is reason to doubt this. According to senior US military intelligence officials, there were fewer than 100 members of Al-Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan in 2009.
Al Qaeda chief, Asim Omar was killed in Afghanistan's Musa Qala district after a joint US–Afghanistan commando airstrike on September 23, Afghan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) confirmed in October 2019.
In a report released May 27, 2020, the United Nations' Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team stated that the Taliban-Al Qaeda relations remain strong to this day and additionally, Al Qaeda itself has admitted that it operates inside Afghanistan.
On July 26, 2020, a United Nations report stated that the Al Qaeda group is still active in twelve provinces in Afghanistan and its leader al-Zawahiri is still based in the country. and that the UN Monitoring Team estimated that the total number of Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan were "between 400 and 600".
Jihadi international Muslims who believed that extremist-jihad must be fought on a global level. Al-Qaeda also sought to open the "offensive phase" of the global Salafi jihad. Bosnian Islamists in 2006 called for "solidarity with Islamic causes around the world", supporting the insurgents in Kashmir and Iraq as well as the groups fighting for a Palestinian state.
In 1996, Al-Qaeda announced its jihad to expel foreign troops and interests from what they considered Islamic lands. Bin Laden issued a fatwa, which amounted to a public declaration of war against the US and its allies, and began to refocus Al-Qaeda's resources on large-scale, propagandist strikes.
On February 23, 1998, bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, along with three other Islamist leaders, co-signed and issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill Americans and their allies. Under the banner of the World Islamic Front for Combat Against the Jews and Crusaders, they declared:
[T]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [in Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together [and] fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.'
Neither bin Laden nor al-Zawahiri possessed the traditional Islamic scholarly qualifications to issue a fatwa. However, they rejected the authority of the contemporary
Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist Ramzi Yousef operated in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and trained Abu Sayyaf soldiers. The 2002 edition of the United States Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism mention links of Abu Sayyaf to Al-Qaeda. Abu Sayyaf is known for a series of kidnappings from tourists in both the Philippines and Malaysia that netted them large sums of money through ransoms. The leader of Abu Sayyaf, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, was also a veteran fighting in the Soviet-Afghan War. In 2014, Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Shia majority in an attempt to incite sectarian violence. Al-Zarqawi purportedly declared an all-out war on Shiites while claiming responsibility for Shiite mosque bombings. The same month, a statement claiming to be from Al-Qaeda in Iraq was rejected as a "fake". In a December 2007 video, al-Zawahiri defended the Islamic State in Iraq, but distanced himself from the attacks against civilians, which he deemed to be perpetrated by "hypocrites and traitors existing among the ranks".
US and Iraqi officials accused Al-Qaeda in Iraq of trying to slide Iraq into a full-scale civil war between Iraq's Shiite population and Sunni Arabs. This was done through an orchestrated campaign of civilian massacres and a number of provocative attacks against high-profile religious targets.
second al-Askari bombing in 2007, Al-Qaeda in Iraq provoked Shiite militias to unleash a wave of retaliatory attacks, resulting in death squad-style killings and further sectarian violence which escalated in 2006. In 2008, sectarian bombings blamed on Al-Qaeda in Iraq killed at least 42 people at the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala in March, and at least 51 people
at a bus stop in Baghdad in June.
In February 2014, after a prolonged dispute with Al-Qaeda in Iraq's successor organisation, the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Al-Qaeda publicly announced it was cutting all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and "notorious intractability".
In Somalia, Al-Qaeda agents had been collaborating closely with its Somali wing, which was created from the al-Shabaab group. In February 2012, al-Shabaab officially joined Al-Qaeda, declaring loyalty in a video. Somali Al-Qaeda recruited children for suicide-bomber training and recruited young people to participate in militant actions against Americans.
The percentage of attacks in the First World originating from the Afghanistan–Pakistan (AfPak) border declined starting in 2007, as Al-Qaeda shifted to Somalia and Yemen. While Al-Qaeda leaders were hiding in the tribal areas along the AfPak border, middle-tier leaders heightened activity in Somalia and Yemen.
In January 2009, Al-Qaeda's division in Saudi Arabia merged with its Yemeni wing to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Centered in Yemen, the group takes advantage of the country's poor economy, demography and domestic security. In August 2009, the group made an assassination attempt against a member of the Saudi royal family. President Obama asked Ali Abdullah Saleh to ensure closer cooperation with the US in the struggle against the growing activity of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and promised to send additional aid. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drew US attention from Somalia and Yemen. In December 2011, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the US operations against Al-Qaeda "are now concentrating on key groups in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa." Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the 2009 bombing attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The AQAP declared the Al-Qaeda Emirate in Yemen on March 31, 2011, after capturing the most of the Abyan Governorate.
Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen escalated in July 2015, fifty civilians had been killed and twenty million needed aid. In February 2016, Al-Qaeda forces and Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces were both seen fighting Houthi rebels in the same battle. In August 2018, Al Jazeera reported that "A military coalition battling Houthi rebels secured secret deals with Al-Qaeda in Yemen and recruited hundreds of the group's fighters.... Key figures in the deal-making said the United States was aware of the arrangements and held off on drone attacks against the armed group, which was created by Osama bin Laden in 1988."
US officials noted that Anwar al-Awlaki had considerable reach within the US. A former FBI agent identified Awlaki as a known "senior recruiter for Al-Qaeda", and a spiritual motivator. Awlaki's sermons in the US were attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers, and accused Fort Hood shooterNidal Hasan. US intelligence intercepted emails from Hasan to Awlaki between December 2008 and early 2009. On his website, Awlaki has praised Hasan's actions in the Fort Hood shooting.
An unnamed official claimed there was good reason to believe Awlaki "has been involved in very serious terrorist activities since leaving the US [in 2002], including plotting attacks against America and our allies."
2010 cargo plane bomb plot. In September 2011, al-Awlaki was killed in a targeted killing drone attack in Yemen. On March 16, 2012, it was reported that Osama bin Laden plotted to kill US President Barack Obama.
On May 1, 2011, US President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed by "a small team of Americans" acting under direct orders,
Kakul. In his broadcast announcement President Obama said that US forces "took care to avoid civilian casualties".
Details soon emerged that three men and a woman were killed along with bin Laden, the woman being killed when she was "used as a shield by a male combatant".DNA from bin Laden's body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister, confirmed bin Laden's identity. The body was recovered by the US military and was in its custody until, according to one US official, his body was buried at sea according to Islamic traditions. One US official said that "finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world's most wanted terrorist would have been difficult." US State Department issued a "Worldwide caution" for Americans following bin Laden's death and US diplomatic facilities everywhere were placed on high alert, a senior US official said. Crowds gathered outside the White House and in New York City's Times Square to celebrate bin Laden's death.
In 2003, President Bashar al-Assad revealed in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper that he doubted Al-Qaeda even existed. He was quoted as saying, "Is there really an entity called Al-Qaeda? Was it in Afghanistan? Does it exist now?" He went on further to remark about bin Laden, commenting "[he] cannot talk on the phone or use the Internet, but he can direct communications to the four corners of the world? This is illogical."
Following the mass protests that took place in 2011, which demanded the resignation of al-Assad, Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and Sunni sympathizers soon began to constitute an effective fighting force against al-Assad.
On February 2, 2014, Al-Qaeda distanced itself from ISIS and its actions in Syria;
Russian air strikes targeted positions held by al-Nusra Front, as well as other Islamist and non-Islamist rebels, while the US also targeted al-Nusra with airstrikes. In early 2016, a leading ISIL ideologue described Al-Qaeda as the "Jews of jihad".
In September 2014, al-Zawahiri announced Al-Qaeda was establishing a front in India to "wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty, and to revive its Caliphate." Al-Zawahiri nominated India as a beachhead for regional jihad taking in neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh. The motivation for the video was questioned, as it appeared the militant group was struggling to remain relevant in light of the emerging prominence of ISIS. The new wing was to be known as "Qaedat al-Jihad fi'shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya" or al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Leaders of several Indian Muslim organizations rejected al-Zawahiri's pronouncement, saying they could see no good coming from it, and viewed it as a threat to Muslim youth in the country.
State Sponsors of Terrorism, and that "Zawahiri made the tape in his hideout in Pakistan, no doubt, and many Indians suspect the ISI is helping to protect him."
Al-Qaeda has carried out a total of six major attacks, four of them in its jihad against America. In each case the leadership planned the attack years in advance, arranging for the shipment of weapons and explosives and using its businesses to provide operatives with safehouses and false identities.
To prevent the former Afghan king
Mohammed Zahir Shah from coming back from exile and possibly becoming head of a new government, bin Laden instructed a Portuguese convert to Islam, Paulo Jose de Almeida Santos, to assassinate Zahir Shah. On November 4, 1991, Santos entered the king's villa in Rome posing as a journalist and tried to stab him with a dagger. A tin of cigarillos in the king's breast pocket deflected the blade and saved Zahir Shah's life. Santos was apprehended and jailed for 10 years in Italy.
On December 29, 1992, Al-Qaeda launched the
1992 Yemen hotel bombings. Two bombs were detonated in Aden, Yemen. The first target was the Movenpick Hotel and the second was the parking lot of the Goldmohur Hotel.
The bombings were an attempt to eliminate American soldiers on their way to Somalia to take part in the international famine relief effort,
Operation Restore Hope. Internally, Al-Qaeda considered the bombing a victory that frightened the Americans away, but in the US, the attack was barely noticed. No American soldiers were killed because no soldiers were staying in the hotel which was bombed. However, an Australian tourist and a Yemeni hotel worker were killed in the bombing. Seven others, mostly Yemenis, were severely injured. Two fatwas are said to have been appointed by Al-Qaeda's members, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, to justify the killings according to Islamic law. Salim referred to a famous fatwa appointed by Ibn Taymiyyah, a 13th-century scholar much admired by Wahhabis, which sanctioned resistance by any means during the Mongol invasions.[unreliable source?
in a suicide attack, killing 17 US servicemen and damaging the vessel while it lay offshore. Inspired by the success of such a brazen attack, Al-Qaeda's command core began to prepare for an attack on the US itself.
The September 11 attacks on America by Al-Qaeda killed 2,996 people – 2,507 civilians, 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, 55 military personnel as well as 19 hijackers who committed murder-suicide. Two commercial airliners were deliberately flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon, and a fourth, originally intended to target either the United States Capitol or the White House, crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was the deadliest foreign attack on American soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and to this day remains the deadliest terrorist attack in human history.
The attacks were conducted by Al-Qaeda, acting in accord with the
as the key planners and part of the political and military command.
Messages issued by bin Laden after September 11, 2001, praised the attacks, and explained their motivation while denying any involvement. Bin Laden legitimized the attacks by identifying grievances felt by both mainstream and Islamist Muslims, such as the general perception that the US was actively oppressing Muslims.
Bin Laden asserted that America was massacring Muslims in "Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and Iraq" and Muslims should retain the "right to attack in reprisal". He also claimed the 9/11 attacks were not targeted at people, but "America's icons of military and economic power", despite the fact he planned to attack in the morning when most of the people in the intended targets were present and thus generating the maximum number of human casualties.
Evidence later came to light that the original targets for the attack may have been nuclear power stations on the US East Coast. The targets were later altered by Al-Qaeda, as it was feared that such an attack "might get out of hand".
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the US government
Special Activities Division
The Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden to a neutral country for trial if the US would provide evidence of bin Laden's complicity in the attacks. US President George W. Bush responded by saying: "We know he's guilty. Turn him over", and British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned the Taliban regime: "Surrender bin Laden, or surrender power."
Soon thereafter the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan, and together with the
Al-Qaeda training camps were destroyed, and much of the operating structure of Al-Qaeda is believed to have been disrupted. After being driven from their key positions in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan, many Al-Qaeda fighters tried to regroup in the rugged Gardez
By early 2002, Al-Qaeda had been dealt a serious blow to its operational capacity, and the Afghan invasion appeared to be a success. Nevertheless, a significant Taliban insurgency remained in Afghanistan.
Debate continued regarding the nature of Al-Qaeda's role in the 9/11 attacks. The
In September 2004, the 9/11 Commission officially concluded that the attacks were conceived and implemented by Al-Qaeda operatives. In October 2004, bin Laden appeared to claim responsibility for the attacks in a videotape released through Al Jazeera, saying he was inspired by Israeli attacks on high-rises in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon: "As I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children."
By the end of 2004, the US government proclaimed that two-thirds of the most senior Al-Qaeda figures from 2001 had been captured and interrogated by the CIA:
Saif al Islam el Masry in 2004.Mohammed Atef and several others were killed. The West was criticized for not being able to handle Al-Qaida despite a decade of the war.
Front page of The Guardian Weekly on the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The article claimed that Al-Qaeda's activity is "increasingly dispersed to 'affiliates' or 'franchises' in Yemen and North Africa."
Al-Qaeda involvement in Africa has included a number of bombing attacks in North Africa, while supporting parties in civil wars in Eritrea and Somalia. From 1991 to 1996, bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders were based in Sudan.
Islamist rebels in the Sahara calling themselves Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have stepped up their violence in recent years. French officials say the rebels have no real links to the Al-Qaeda leadership, but this has been disputed. It seems likely that bin Laden approved the group's name in late 2006, and the rebels "took on the al Qaeda franchise label", almost a year before the violence began to escalate.
In Mali, the Ansar Dine faction was also reported as an ally of Al-Qaeda in 2013. The Ansar al Dine faction aligned themselves with the AQIM.
Before the 9/11 attacks and the US invasion of Afghanistan, westerners who had been recruits at Al-Qaeda training camps were sought after by Al-Qaeda's military wing. Language skills and knowledge of Western culture were generally found among recruits from Europe, such was the case with
9/11 hijackers. Following the attacks, Western intelligence agencies determined that Al-Qaeda cells operating in Europe had aided the hijackers with financing and communications with the central leadership based in Afghanistan.
In 2003, Islamists carried out a series of bombings in Istanbul killing fifty-seven people and injuring seven hundred. Seventy-four people were charged by the Turkish authorities. Some had previously met bin Laden, and though they specifically declined to pledge allegiance to Al-Qaeda they asked for its blessing and help.
Al-Qaeda did not begin training Palestinians until the late 1990s. Large groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have rejected an alliance with al-Qaeda, fearing that al-Qaeda will co-opt their cells. This may have changed recently. The Israeli security and intelligence services believe al-Qaeda has managed to infiltrate operatives from the Occupied Territories into Israel, and is waiting for an opportunity to attack.
As of 2015[update], Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are openly supporting the
Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri consider India to be a part of an alleged Crusader-Zionist-Hindu conspiracy against the Islamic world.
Gilgit–Baltistan) during the 1999 Kargil War and continued to operate there with tacit approval of Pakistan's Intelligence services.
Many of the militants active in Kashmir were trained in the same madrasahs as Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Fazlur Rehman Khalil of Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was a signatory of al-Qaeda's 1998 declaration of Jihad against America and its allies. In a 'Letter to American People' (2002), bin Laden wrote that one of the reasons he was fighting America was because of its support to India on the Kashmir issue. In November 2001, Kathmandu airport went on high alert after threats that bin Laden planned to hijack a plane and crash it into a target in New Delhi. In 2002, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on a trip to Delhi, suggested that Al-Qaeda was active in Kashmir though he did not have any evidence. Rumsfeld proposed hi-tech ground sensors along the Line of Control to prevent militants from infiltrating into Indian-administered Kashmir.
An investigation in 2002 found evidence that al-Qaeda and its affiliates were prospering in Pakistan-administered Kashmir with tacit approval of Pakistan's
kidnapping western tourists in Kashmir in 1995. Britain's highest-ranking al-Qaeda operative Rangzieb Ahmed had previously fought in Kashmir with the group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and spent time in Indian prison after being captured in Kashmir.
US officials believe al-Qaeda was helping organize attacks in Kashmir in order to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. Their strategy was to force Pakistan to move its troops to the border with India, thereby relieving pressure on al-Qaeda elements hiding in northwestern Pakistan. In 2006 al-Qaeda claimed they had established a wing in Kashmir. However Indian Army General H. S. Panag argued that the army had ruled out the presence of al-Qaeda in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Panag also said al-Qaeda had strong ties with Kashmiri militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed based in Pakistan. It has been noted that Waziristan has become a battlefield for Kashmiri militants fighting NATO in support of al-Qaeda and Taliban.Dhiren Barot, who wrote the Army of Madinah in Kashmir and was an al-Qaeda operative convicted for involvement in the 2004 financial buildings plot, had received training in weapons and explosives at a militant training camp in Kashmir.
Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri militant group which is thought to be behind 2008 Mumbai attacks, is also known to have strong ties to senior al-Qaeda leaders living in Pakistan. In late 2002, top Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was arrested while being sheltered by Lashkar-e-Taiba in a safe house in Faisalabad. The FBI believes al-Qaeda and Lashkar have been 'intertwined' for a long time while the CIA has said that al-Qaeda funds Lashkar-e-Taiba.Jean-Louis Bruguière told Reuters in 2009 that "Lashkar-e-Taiba is no longer a Pakistani movement with only a Kashmir political or military agenda. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a member of al-Qaeda."
In a video released in 2008, American-born senior al-Qaeda operative Adam Yahiye Gadahn said that "victory in Kashmir has been delayed for years; it is the liberation of the jihad there from this interference which, Allah willing, will be the first step towards victory over the Hindu occupiers of that Islam land."
In January 2010, US Defense secretary Robert Gates, while on a visit to Pakistan, said that al-Qaeda was seeking to destabilize the region and planning to provoke a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda and its successors have migrated online to escape detection in an atmosphere of increased international vigilance. The group's use of the Internet has grown more sophisticated, with online activities that include financing, recruitment, networking, mobilization, publicity, and information dissemination, gathering and sharing.
The range of multimedia content includes guerrilla training clips, stills of victims about to be murdered, testimonials of suicide bombers, and videos that show participation in jihad through stylized portraits of mosques and musical scores. A website associated with Al-Qaeda posted a video of captured American entrepreneur
Alneda.com and Jehad.net were perhaps the most significant al-Qaeda websites. Alneda was initially taken down by American Jon Messner, but the operators resisted by shifting the site to various servers and strategically shifting content.[citation needed
The US government charged a British information technology specialist, Babar Ahmad, with terrorist offences related to his operating a network of English-language al-Qaeda websites, such as Azzam.com. He was convicted and sentenced to 12+1⁄2 years in prison.
al-Qaeda is believed to be operating a clandestine aviation network including "several
Department of Homeland Security report, the story said al-Qaeda is possibly using aircraft to transport drugs and weapons from South America to various unstable countries in West Africa. A Boeing 727 can carry up to ten tons of cargo. The drugs eventually are smuggled to Europe for distribution and sale, and the weapons are used in conflicts in Africa and possibly elsewhere. Gunmen with links to al-Qaeda have been increasingly kidnapping Europeans for ransom. The profits from the drug and weapon sales, and kidnappings can, in turn, fund more militant activities.
Experts debate the notion that al-Qaeda attacks were an indirect result from the American CIA's
mujahideen. Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2001, has written that al-Qaeda and bin Laden were "a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies", and that "Al-Qaida, literally 'the database', was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians."
The strategy to support the Afghans against Soviet military intervention was evolved by several intelligence agencies, including the C.I.A. and Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. After the Soviet withdrawal, the Western powers walked away from the region, leaving behind 40,000 militants imported from several countries to wage the anti-Soviet jihad. Pakistan was left to face the blowback of extremism, drugs and guns.
who else?] argue that there was no need to recruit foreigners unfamiliar with the local language, customs or lay of the land since there were a quarter of a million local Afghans willing to fight.[failed verification
] Bergen further argues that foreign mujahideen had no need for American funds since they received several million dollars per year from internal sources. Lastly, he argues that Americans could not have trained the foreign mujahideen because Pakistani officials would not allow more than a handful of them to operate in Pakistan and none in Afghanistan, and the Afghan Arabs were almost invariably militant Islamists reflexively hostile to Westerners whether or not the Westerners were helping the Muslim Afghans.
According to Bergen, who conducted the first television interview with bin Laden in 1997: the idea that "the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden... [is] a folk myth. There's no evidence of this... Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently... The real story here is the CIA didn't really have a clue about who this guy was until 1996 when they set up a unit to really start tracking him."
Jason Burke also wrote:
Some of the $500 million the CIA poured into Afghanistan reached [Al-Zawahiri's] group. Al-Zawahiri has become a close aide of bin Laden... Bin Laden was only loosely connected with the [Hezb-i-Islami faction of the mujahideen led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar], serving under another Hezb-i-Islami commander known as Engineer Machmud. However, bin Laden's Office of Services, set up to recruit overseas for the war, received some US cash.
Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, was inspired by al-Qaeda, calling it "the most successful revolutionary movement in the world." While admitting different aims, he sought to "create a European version of Al-Qaida."
The appropriate response to offshoots is a subject of debate. A journalist reported in 2012 that a senior US military planner had asked: "Should we resort to drones and Special Operations raids every time some group raises the black banner of al Qaeda? How long can we continue to chase offshoots of offshoots around the world?"
Ali ibn Abi Talib is the true successor to Muhammad, while Sunnis consider Abu Bakr to hold that position. The Kharijites broke away from both the Shiʿas and the Sunnis during the First Fitna (the first Islamic Civil War); they were particularly noted for adopting a radical approach to takfīr (excommunication), whereby they declared both Sunni and Shiʿa Muslims to be either infidels (kuffār) or false Muslims (munāfiḳūn), and therefore deemed them worthy of death for their perceived apostasy (ridda).
According to a number of sources, a "wave of revulsion" has been expressed against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates by "religious scholars, former fighters and militants" who are alarmed by Al-Qaeda's takfir and its killing of Muslims in Muslim countries, especially in Iraq.
Noman Benotman, a former militant member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), went public with an open letter of criticism to Ayman al-Zawahiri in November 2007, after persuading the imprisoned senior leaders of his former group to enter into peace negotiations with the Libyan regime. While Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the affiliation of the group with Al-Qaeda in November 2007, the Libyan government released 90 members of the group from prison several months after "they were said to have renounced violence."
In 2007, on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Saudi sheikh Salman al-Ouda delivered a personal rebuke to bin Laden. Al-Ouda, a religious scholar and one of the fathers of the Sahwa, the fundamentalist awakening movement that swept through Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, is a widely respected critic of jihadism. Al-Ouda addressed Al-Qaeda's leader on television asking him:
My brother Osama, how much blood has been spilt? How many innocent people, children, elderly, and women have been killed... in the name of al-Qaeda? Will you be happy to meet God Almighty carrying the burden of these hundreds of thousands or millions [of victims] on your back?
According to Pew polls, support for Al-Qaeda had dropped in the Muslim world in the years before 2008. Support of suicide bombings in Indonesia, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, dropped by half or more in the last five years.[when?] In Saudi Arabia, only ten percent had a favorable view of Al-Qaeda, according to a December 2017 poll by Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington-based think tank.
Although once associated with Al-Qaeda, in September 2009 LIFG completed a new "code" for jihad, a 417-page religious document entitled "Corrective Studies". Given its credibility and the fact that several other prominent Jihadists in the Middle East have turned against Al-Qaeda, the LIFG's reversal may be an important step toward staunching Al-Qaeda's recruitment.
Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American journalist based in Syria created a documentary about al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia. The documentary included interviews with former members of the group who stated their reasons for leaving al-Shabab. The members made accusations of segregation, lack of religious awareness and internal corruption and favoritism. In response to Kareem, the Global Islamic Media Front condemned Kareem, called him a liar, and denied the accusations from the former fighters.
In mid-2014 after the
Shiites and their refusal to recognize the authority Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Adnani specifically noting: "It is not suitable for a state to give allegiance to an organization." He also recalled a past instance in which Osama bin Laden called on Al-Qaeda members and supporters to give allegiance to Abu Omar al-Baghdadi when the group was still solely operating in Iraq, as the Islamic State of Iraq, and condemned Ayman al-Zawahiri for not making this same claim for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Zawahiri was encouraging factionalism and division between former allies of ISIL such as the al-Nusra Front.
^"Al Qaeda Spinoff Sets Sights On Jews". Forward. March 19, 2004. The apparent evolution of Al Qaeda into a loose network of autonomous terrorist cells, as a result of U.S.-led attacks on Osama bin Laden's inner circle, may be having the unintended effect of boosting the importance of Jewish targets as a primary focus of international Islamic terrorism.
^"In 9/11 Video, Al Qaeda Doubles Down on Enmity toward Jews and Israel". ADL. November 2, 2021. Zawahiri introduced the film as part of Al Qaeda's "Jerusalem will not be Judaized" campaign, which was launched after the December 2017 announcement by the Trump Administration that it was planning to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The video provides crucial context for the group's extremist agenda, underscoring that Al Qaeda is particularly focused on a strike against Israel, and that antisemitism remains an animating element of Al Qaeda's worldview.
^"Al Qaeda Renews Its Focus on Antisemitism and Attacking Israel". ADL. June 24, 2021. In recent weeks, Al Qaeda has dedicated an unusual amount of its propaganda towards encouraging attacks on Israel, Jewish institutions, and Jewish people. Given shifts in the Islamist extremist environment—including the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 and Al Qaeda's expectation that it will gain a safe operational haven in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws from the country—this suggests that Al Qaeda or one of its regional affiliates may intend to recommit to attack Israel or the Jewish Diaspora. In addition, the last time Al Qaeda noticeably increased its messaging around Palestine was in 2019, and its affiliates subsequently staged attacks against a hotel in Kenya and a military installation in Mali which they claimed were in protest of Israel's "Judaization of Palestine."
^"Al-Qaeda's Urges Muslims to Shun World Cup, Stops Short of Threats". Voice of America. November 19, 2022. Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the militant group's Yemen-based branch, criticized Qatar for "bringing immoral people, homosexuals, sowers of corruption and atheism into the Arabian Peninsula" and said the event served to divert attention from the "occupation of Muslim countries and their oppression."
^J. Tompkins, Crossett, Paul, Chuck; Spitaletta, Marshal, Jason, Shana (2012). "19- Al-Qaeda: 1988-2001". Casebook on Insurgency and Revolutionary Warfare Volume II: 1962-2009. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA: United States Army Special Operations Command. pp. 533, 544.
^"Jaish-e-Mohammed". Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University. July 2018. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
^Gordon, David (2011). "Jemaah Islamiyah"(PDF). Homeland Security & Counterterrorism Program Transnational Threats Project. Archived(PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022 – via Center for Strategic & International Studies.
^"Al Qaeda". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
^C. Glenn – The Islamists. The Wilson Centre September 28, 2015. Accessed June 15, 2017. "...Zawahiri does not claim to have direct hierarchical control over al Qaeda's vast, networked structure. Al Qaeda's core leadership seeks to centralize the organization's messaging and strategy rather than to manage the daily operations of its franchises. But formal affiliates are required to consult with al Qaeda's core leadership before carrying out large-scale attacks."
– via JSTOR. Two months before 9/11, Zawahiri, who had become al Qaeda's second-in-command, published Knigbts Under the Banner of the Prophet, which offers insight into why al Qacda decided to attack the United States within its borders. In it, he stated that al Qaeda aimed to establish an Islamic state in the Arab world: Just as victory is not achieved for an army unless its foot soldiers occupy land, the mujahid lslamic movement will not achieve victory against the global infdel alliance unless it possesses a base in the heart of the Islamic world. Every plan and method we consider to rally and mobilize the ummab will be hanging in the air with no concrete result or tangible return unless it leads to the establishment of the caliphal state in the heart of the Islamic world. Achieving this goal, Zawahiri explained elsewhere in the book, would require a global jihad: It is not possible to incite a conflict for the establishment of a Muslim state if it is a regional conflict.... The international Jewish-Crusader alliance, led by America, will not allow any Muslim force to obtain power in any of the Muslim lands. ... It will impose sanctions on whoever helps it, even if it does not declare war against them altogether. Therefore, to adjust to this new reality, we must prepare ourselves for a battle that is not confined to a single region but rather includes the apostate domestic enemy and the Jewish-Crusader external enemy. To confront this insidious alliance, Zawahiri argued, al Qaeda had to first root out U.S. infuence in the region...
– via JSTOR. Zawahiri does not oppose all elections; for example, he supports elections for the rulers of Islamic states and for representatives on leadership councils, which would ensure that these governments implemented Islamic law properly. But he opposes any system in which elections empower legislators to make laws of their own choosing... Bin Laden agreed with Zawahiri's take on elections, stating in January 2009 that once foreign influence and local tyrants have been removed from Islamic countries, true Muslims can elect their own presidents. And like Zawahiri, bin Laden argued that elections should not create parliaments that allow Muslims and non-Muslims to collaborate on making laws.
. Retrieved February 2, 2019. The Al Qaeda team included Abu Talha al-Sudani, Saif al-Islam el-Masry, Salem el-Masry, Saif al-Adel and other trainers, including Abu Jaffer el-Masry, the explosives expert who ran the Jihad Wal camp Afghanistan. In addition to developing this capability with Iranian assistance, Al Qaeda also received a large amount of explosives from Iran that were used in the bombing of the East African targets. The training team brought Hezbollah training and propaganda videos with the intention of passing on their knowledge to other Al Qaeda members and Islamist groups.