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The roots of modern day Al Qaeda can be traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood organization that began in Egypt. Find out how Osama Bin Laden made connections to the different leaders who helped him eventually plan and carry out the events of September 11th.
How Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda Planned 9/11 - HISTORY
Al-Qaeda, meaning "the base", was created in 1989 as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden and his colleagues began looking for new jihads.
The organisation grew out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight under the banner of Islam against Soviet Communism.
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.
The "Arab Afghans", as they became known, were battle-hardened and highly motivated.
In the early 1990s Al-Qaeda operated in Sudan. After 1996 its headquarters and about a dozen training camps moved to Afghanistan, where Bin Laden forged a close relationship with the Taleban.
The US campaign in Afghanistan starting in late 2001 dispersed the organisation and drove it underground as its personnel were attacked and its bases and training camps destroyed.
The organisation is thought to operate in 40 to 50 countries, not only in the Middle East and Asia but in North America and Europe.
In western Europe there have been known or suspected cells in London, Hamburg, Milan and Madrid. These have been important centres for recruitment, fundraising and planning operations.
9/11 panel: Al Qaeda planned to hijack 10 planes
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One member of the commission investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks says "a number of urban myths about 9/11" will be dispelled on Thursday, the last scheduled hearing for the panel.
One such myth is the widely held belief that the military was ready to carry out orders to shoot down civilian aircraft if necessary.
"That is simply not true," said the commissioner. "They were not ready" for a number of reasons, suggesting, among other things, that there were legal issues and that properly armed aircraft were not ready.
What is not contested is that Vice President Dick Cheney communicated authorization for civilian planes to be shot down if they threatened strategic targets.
Appearing on CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports," commission member Richard Ben-Veniste would not elaborate on the report.
"I'm not going to preview the information in any detail, except to say that a lot of the information that has been released previously -- indeed some sworn to -- will have to be corrected," Ben-Veniste said.
While Wednesday's hearing focused primarily on the terrorists' planning, Thursday's hearing will focus on what happened in the skies the day of the attack.
The commission found that the plot originally called for hijacking 10 planes and attacking targets on the eastern and western coasts of the United States.
According to the commission:
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the plot, planned to have nine of the planes crash into the FBI and CIA headquarters, the Pentagon and the White House, as well as nuclear plants and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state.
Mohammed was arrested in March 2003 in Pakistan and turned over to U.S. authorities.
The hijackers of the 10th plane, which Mohammed planned to pilot, would contact the media, kill all of the adult men onboard and then make a statement denouncing the United States before freeing the women and children.
The plot also called for hijacking and blowing up 12 airliners in Southeast Asia, but al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden scrapped that part of the plan because it was too difficult to coordinate operations on two continents.
Bin Laden scaled back the plot in the United States to the four planes that were eventually used in the attack.
They narrowed down the list of targets to the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and either the White House or the Capitol.
Bin Laden wanted to hit the White House, but Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19 hijackers, favored the Capitol, because they felt it would be an easier target.
Mohammed initially proposed the attacks in 1996, but planning did not begin until 1999.
Bin Laden had wanted the attack to occur as early as mid-2000, after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount tunnel, which preceded a Palestinian intifada. But the hijacker-pilots were not yet fully trained.
Bin Laden then pressed for a date earlier in 2001, such as May 12, the seven-month anniversary of the USS Cole attack, or in June or July, when Sharon was due to visit the White House. Again, the hijackers were not ready.
The September 11 date was not chosen until three weeks before. The hijackers bought their tickets only two weeks before.
The plot cost an estimated $400,000 to $500,000, not including the hijackers' training in Afghanistan. The hijackers spent about $270,000 in the United States, mainly on flight training, travel, housing, and vehicles.
No al Qaeda, Iraq cooperation
The panel said it found "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
The Bush administration has said the terrorist network and Iraq were linked.
In response, a senior administration official traveling with President Bush in Tampa, Florida, said, "We stand by what Powell and Tenet have said," referring to previous statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet that described such links.
In February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations that Iraq was harboring Abu Musab Zarqawi, a "collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants," and he said Iraq's denials of ties to al Qaeda "are simply not credible."
In September, Cheney said Iraq had been "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."
Bush, responding to criticism of Cheney's comment, said there was no evidence Saddam's government was linked to the September 11 attacks.
Just this week Bush and Cheney have made comments alleging ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. (Full story)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry said, "the administration misled America."
"The administration reached too far," he told Detroit radio station WDET. "They did not tell the truth to Americans about what was happening or their own intentions."
The commission's report says bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to [Saddam] Hussein's secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.
"The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda."
A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994.
Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded.
"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report said.
"Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied" any relationship, the report said.
The panel also dismissed reports that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in the Czech Republic on April 9, 2000. "We do not believe that such a meeting occurred."
The report said that Atta was in Virginia on April 4 -- evidenced by video that shows him withdrawing $8,000 from an ATM -- and he was in Florida by April 11 if not before.
The report also found that there was no "convincing evidence that any government financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11" other than the limited support provided by the Taliban when bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan.
The toppling of the Taliban regime "fundamentally changed" al Qaeda, leaving it decentralized and altering bin Laden's role.
Prior to the attacks, bin Laden approved all al Qaeda operations and often chose targets and the operatives himself, the report said.
"After al Qaeda lost Afghanistan after 9/11, it fundamentally changed. The organization is far more decentralized. Bin Laden's seclusion forced operational commanders and cell leaders to assume greater authority they are now making the command decisions previously made by him," the report said.
Al Qaeda seeking nuclear weapons
The commission said that al Qaeda was seeking to obtain nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Al Qaeda "remains interested in using a radiological dispersal device or 'dirty bomb,' a conventional explosive designed to spread radioactive material," the commission said.
The report said that al Qaeda may also seek to launch a chemical attack using widely available chemicals or by attacking a chemical plant or chemical shipments.
The commission also said that Tenet testified that a possible anthrax attack is "one of the most immediate threats the United States is likely to face."
Al Qaeda funding
Al Qaeda's funding came primarily from a fund-raising network, not business enterprises or bin Laden's personal fortune, the commission said.
Bin Laden owned some businesses and other assets in Sudan, but "most were small or not economically viable." The report says bin Laden "never received a $300 million inheritance," but from 1970 until approximately 1994 received about $1 million a year.
The commission found that Saudi Arabia was a rich fund-raising ground for al Qaeda, but that it had found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda.
The group distributed the money as quickly as it was raised, with much of the money going to the Taliban for its operations in Afghanistan.
The CIA estimates that al Qaeda spent $30 million each year on expenses including terrorist operations, salaries and maintenance on terrorist training camps.
Its largest expense was payments to the Taliban, which were estimated at between $10 million and $20 million per year.
Iran’s Ties to Al-Qaeda
Former Secretary of State Pompeo recently accused Iran of allowing al-Qaeda to operate in Tehran and carry out attacks against the U.S. and its allies from Iran.
Despite Iran’s denials, the evidence of al-Qaeda’s link to Iran is both broad and deep.
Tehran’s support for al-Qaeda has helped to further destabilize the Middle East, and allowed expansion of threats against the U.S. and its allies.
In a speech at the National Press Club on January 12, 2021, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted Iran for the covert support and sanctuary it has extended to al-Qaeda. Secretary Pompeo charged that Iran had become the “new Afghanistan,” the country where al-Qaeda was based in 2001 when it launched the 9/11 attacks. According to Secretary Pompeo, Iran allowed al-Qaeda to open a new operational headquarters in Tehran, giving its leaders greater freedom of movement, as well as logistical support from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security to carry out attacks against the United States and its allies. Some critics claim that these allegations are baseless, but that is far from true.
Bin Laden says he wasn't behind attacks
DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Islamic militant leader Osama bin Laden, the man the United States considers the prime suspect in last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, denied any role Sunday in the actions believed to have killed thousands.
In a statement issued to the Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, bin Laden said, "The U.S. government has consistently blamed me for being behind every occasion its enemies attack it.
"I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons," bin Laden's statement said.
"I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders' rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations," bin Laden said.
Asked Sunday if he believed bin Laden's denial, President Bush said, "No question he is the prime suspect. No question about that."
Since Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the United States, Bush has repeatedly threatened to strike out against terrorism and any nation that supports or harbors its disciples.
Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi-born exile, has lived in Afghanistan for several years. U.S. officials blame him for earlier strikes on U.S. targets, including last year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen and the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.
Bin Laden's campaign stems from the 1990 decision by Saudi Arabia to allow U.S. troops into the kingdom after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait -- a military presence that has become permanent.
In a 1997 CNN interview, bin Laden called the U.S. military presence an "occupation of the land of the holy places."
Immediately after the attacks that demolished the World Trade Center's landmark twin towers and seriously damaged the Pentagon, officials of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban said they doubted bin Laden could have been involved in carrying out the actions.
The Taliban -- the fundamentalist Islamic militia that seized power in Afghanistan in 1996 -- denied his ties to terrorism and said they have taken away all his means of communication with the outside world.
The repressive Taliban regime has received almost universal condemnation, particularly for their harsh treatment of women. Only three countries, including Pakistan, recognize them as the country's rightful government.
A high-level Pakistani delegation was set to travel to Afghanistan on Monday to urge Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to hand over bin Laden, CNN learned Sunday.
The Taliban, which controls more than 90 percent of the country, has threatened any neighboring country that allows its soil to be used to help the United States stage an attack on Afghanistan.
1987-1998: California Al-Qaeda Cell Serves as Vital Communications Hub
Khaled Abu el-Dahab. [Source: Egyptian government] In the mid-1980’s, Khaled Abu el-Dahab, an Egyptian medical student, joins the militant group Islamic Jihad, and also meets Ali Mohamed. Mohamed convinces el-Dahab to move to the US and become a sleeper cell agent. El-Dahab does so in 1987, moving to Santa Clara, California, where Mohamed has a residence. El-Dahab marries an American woman, becomes a US citizen, and gets a job at a computer company. In 1987, a female acquaintance of el-Dahab enters his apartment unannounced and finds several men there cleaning rifles. She decides it is something she does not want to know about, and breaks off contact with him. In 1990, Mohamed and el-Dahab travel together to Afghanistan. They are financially supported by a network of US sympathizers, including two Egyptian-American doctors. Beginning in 1990, El-Dahab’s apartment becomes an important communications hub for al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad cells all over the world. For much of the 1990’s, the Egyptian government cut direct phone links to countries like Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan in an effort to disrupt communications between radical militants. So Dahab acts as a telephone operator for the Islamic Jihad network, using a three-way calling feature to connect operatives in far-flung countries. He communicates with bin Laden’s base in Sudan (where bin Laden lives until 1996). He receives phone calls from the likes of Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who also visits California twice (see Spring 1993 Late 1994 or 1995). He distributes forged documents and makes money transfers. He is trained to make booby-trapped letters, enrolls in a US flight school to learn how to fly gliders and helicopters, and recruits additional US sleeper agents (see Mid-1990s). He helps translate US army manuals and topographical maps into Arabic for al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad training. El-Dahab will move to Egypt in 1998 and get arrested in October of that year. He will confess his role in all of this in an Egyptian trial in 1999. The Egyptian government will sentence him to 15 years in prison (see 1999). [New York Times, 10/23/2001 London Times, 11/11/2001 San Francisco Chronicle, 11/21/2001 Chicago Tribune, 12/11/2001]
Revelation 9:11’s Abaddon and Apollyon, in light of September 11’s al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden
And notice the overlap with ‘Osama bin Laden’ and ‘Apollyon’.
Keep in mind the World Trade Centers were 110 stories tall.
Apollyon = 106 / 110, Prophecy = 106 / 110
“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” = 19991 (Reverse Trigonal)(May be an Inverted 666, in between what resembles two towers?) This could be just a reach, but thought I would share anyway.
Zachary, I’ve been telling you about Rev 9:1:11 and 9-11-01 since 2015. When they planned the attack, they must have been tickled to see such a perfect scripture, the fifth trumpet no less.. This is how Mystery Babylon (Rev 17 only) behaves.
Then, Gen Wesley Clark said the US planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years (Rev 9:10- months”). So, 3 towers, 7 countries = 10 in 5 years . Look at this counterfeiting: (Daniel 7:19-20) vs 20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
They are fulfilling prophesy 106
Russia = beast
US = Mystery Babylon + allies = Babylon system
People here are not being justified and therefore cannot understand the things of the Spirit which is his word, the holy scriptures. “through faith we understand”
The angel is a literal angel and is king over the bottomless pit (hell where lost sinners go to wait the great white throne judgement before being cast into the lake of fire ((the sun)) for your life of sins) which will be opened after the middle of the upcoming 70th week. You better be justified or those locusts are going to come sting your foolish asses and you will wish to die but will not.
Osama bin Laden founded al-Qaeda during the latter stages of the Soviet-Afghan War with the goal of waging global jihad. Since its founding in 1988, al-Qaeda has played a role in innumerable terrorist attacks, and is most notoriously responsible for the multiple attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 terror attacks&mdashthe deadliest ever on American soil&mdashleft nearly 3,000 people dead and provoked the United States to wage war against al-Qaeda in the group&rsquos home bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other sanctuaries worldwide. Since then, the group has established five major regional affiliates pledging their official allegiance to al-Qaeda: in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, East Africa, Syria, and the Indian subcontinent.
In addition to directing and carrying out the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda is responsible for terrorist atrocities across the globe, including the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2002 Bali bombing, the 2003 Saudi Arabia bombings, the 2004 Madrid bombing, and the 2005 London bombing. Al-Qaeda is also responsible for several failed operations, including the 2009 Christmas Day plane bombing attempt, the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt, and the 2010 cargo plane bombing attempt. Today, al-Qaeda&rsquos structure is increasingly decentralized, with affiliates acting semi-autonomously as extensions of al-Qaeda&rsquos core mission. These affiliates carry out fatal terrorist attacks and hostage operations, and wage war under the al-Qaeda banner. Although al-Qaeda maintains affiliates worldwide, some of its affiliates have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda&rsquos former affiliate in Iraq and current competitor, ISIS. However, despite the dramatic rise of ISIS since 2013, the Pentagon, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have all forcefully stressed that al-Qaeda remains a critical terrorist threat. &ldquoSpecial Issue: The Al-Qa&rsquoida Threat 14 Years Later,&rdquo Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, September 2015, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=787133 Eric Schmitt, &ldquoISIS or Al Qaeda? American Officials Split Over Top Terrorist Threat,&rdquo New York Times, August 4, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/world/middleeast/isis-or-al-qaeda-american-officials-split-over-biggest-threat.html?_r=0. This assessment was borne out in January 2015, when al-Qaeda&rsquos Yemeni affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was credited with the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. Despite important strategic and ideological differences, Zawahiri has indicated that future cooperation with ISIS is not out of the question, for the ultimate goal of destroying the United States or, in the event of ISIS&rsquos own destruction, absorbing its fighters into a reinvigorated al-Qaeda. Carla E. Humud, &ldquoAl Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,&rdquo Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf In April 2017, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi confirmed that al-Qaeda was seeking an alliance with ISIS, as Iraqi forces closed in on Mosul, ISIS&rsquos last key stronghold. Allawi claimed discussions were occurring between representatives of Baghdadi and Zawahiri. &ldquoIslamic State seeking alliance with al Qaeda, Iraqi vice president says,&rdquo Reuters, April 17, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-islamic-state-idUSKBN17J1DT
Al-Qaeda is a jihadist network that seeks to establish a caliphate (global Muslim state) under sharia (Islamic law). In 1996, bin Laden issued a declaration of jihad against the United States and its allies, the contents of which continue to serve as the three cornerstones of al-Qaeda&rsquos doctrine: to unite the world&rsquos Muslim population under sharia to liberate the &ldquoholy lands&rdquo from the &ldquoZionist-Crusader&rdquo alliance, and to alleviate perceived economic and social injustices. &ldquoBin Laden&rsquos Fatwa,&rdquo PBS Newshour, August 23, 1996,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military-july-dec96-fatwa_1996/.
Ultimately, al-Qaeda believes that it is fighting a &ldquodefensive jihad&rdquo against the United States and its allies, defending Muslim lands from the &ldquonew crusade led by America against the Islamic nations&hellip&rdquo http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL32759.pdf. In his 1996 declaration of jihad against the United States, Osama bin Laden justified the use of force by citing 13th century Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah: &ldquoTo fight in defence of religion and Belief is a collective duty there is no other duty after Belief than fighting the enemy who is corrupting the life and the religion. There [are] no preconditions for this duty and the enemy should be fought with [one&rsquos] best abilities.&rdquo &ldquoBin Laden&rsquos Fatwa,&rdquo PBS Newshour, August 23, 1996,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military-july-dec96-fatwa_1996/.
Since then, the group has adapted its strategy in an effort to meet its evolving goals. In 2005, details of al-Qaeda&rsquos 20-year strategy to implement its ideology emerged. Following a series of interviews and correspondence with senior al-Qaeda officials by Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, he described the &ldquostages&rdquo leading to the ultimate objective of establishing a caliphate. According to Hussein, the first stage was the &ldquoawakening stage,&rdquo which ranged from the 9/11 attacks to the U.S. taking over Baghdad in 2003. Yassin Musharbash, &ldquoThe Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants,&rdquo Spiegel Online, August 12, 20015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-future-of-terrorism-what-al-qaida-really-wants-a-369448.html Radwan Mortada, &ldquoAl-Qaeda&rsquos 20-Year Plan,&rdquo Al-Akhbar English, January 29, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18437. This period was then to be followed by the &ldquoopening eyes&rdquo stage which was expected to last between 2003 and 2006. According to Hussein, this stage entailed enhanced al-Qaeda operations in the Middle East, centralizing power in Iraq, and establishing bases in other Arabic states. The third stage, &ldquoArising and Standing Up,&rdquo was staged to last between 2007 and 2010 and was focused on goading Syria to conduct attacks on Israel and Turkey. The following three years, 2010 to 2013, would involve the overthrow of Arabic monarchies and cyber-attacks on the United States economy. The declaration of the caliphate would come between 2013 and 2016. Yassin Musharbash, &ldquoThe Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants,&rdquo Spiegel Online, August 12, 20015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-future-of-terrorism-what-al-qaida-really-wants-a-369448.html Radwan Mortada, &ldquoAl-Qaeda&rsquos 20-Year Plan,&rdquo Al-Akhbar English, January 29, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18437.
However, al-Qaeda&rsquos planned declaration of a caliphate was usurped by ISIS. In September 2015, on the eve of the 14 th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri denounced ISIS for its so-called unilateral and premature imposition of a caliphate without coordination with other jihadist groups through sharia courts, which he calls the &ldquoprophetic method.&rdquo James Gordon Meek, &ldquoAl Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri Declares War on ISIS &lsquoCaliph&rsquo Al-Baghdadi,&rdquo ABC News, September 10, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/International/al-qaeda-leader-al-zawahiri-declares-war-isis/story?id=33656684. In particular, Zawahiri expressed his dismay that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had anointed himself the fourth caliph &ldquowithout consulting the Muslims.&rdquo James Gordon Meek, &ldquoAl Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri Declares War on ISIS &lsquoCaliph&rsquo Al-Baghdadi,&rdquo ABC News, September 10, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/International/al-qaeda-leader-al-zawahiri-declares-war-isis/story?id=33656684. Zawahiri also strongly criticized infighting among jihadist groups, especially the killing of other Muslims because, according to Zawahiri, it distracted from the overriding goal of destroying the United States. Carla E. Humud, &ldquoAl Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,&rdquo Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.
Since then, and despite the local-oriented activities of al-Qaeda&rsquos regional affiliates, Zawahiri has maintained that the group&rsquos primary target is the United States and &ldquoits ally Israel, and secondly its local allies that rule our countries.&rdquo Ayman al-Zawahiri, &ldquoGeneral Guidelines for Jihad,&rdquo As-Sahab Media, September 2013, https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dr-ayman-al-e1ba93awc481hirc4ab-22general-guidelines-for-the-work-of-a-jihc481dc4ab22-en.pdf. Despite al-Qaeda&rsquos criticism of ISIS, Zawahiri has not ruled out the possibility of cooperating with ISIS, or absorbing its fighters if ISIS is eventually defeated. Carla E. Humud, &ldquoAl Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,&rdquo Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf. In April 2017, the Iraqi vice president confirmed that an al-Qaeda-ISIS merger was a possibility as the government had seen reports of high-level talks between the two groups. &ldquoIslamic State seeking alliance with al Qaeda, Iraqi vice president says,&rdquo Reuters, April 17, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-islamic-state-idUSKBN17J1DT.
Al-Qaeda&rsquos central command, which includes current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and his top aides, has traditionally been headquartered in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda has long pledged allegiance to the Afghan-based Taliban, which provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda after the United States turned its military focus on the group following the 9/11 attacks. In June 2016, Zawahiri reaffirmed al-Qaeda&rsquos allegiance by publicly endorsing the Taliban&rsquos new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. &ldquoAl Qaeda&rsquos Zawahiri backs new Taliban chief Askhundzada,&rdquo Deutsche Welle, June 11, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/al-qaedas-zawahiri-backs-new-taliban-chief-akhundzada/a-19323475.
Since the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led campaign against the organization&rsquos base of operations, al-Qaeda spawned affiliate groups that have spread throughout North Africa and the Sahel, East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and most recently, South Asia. Despite the affiliates&rsquo dispersal over such a vast area, the commander of each branch has pledged allegiance to&mdashand takes operational directions from&mdashal-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Thomas Joscelyn, &ldquoGlobal Al Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges,&rdquo Long War Journal, July 18, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/07/global_al_qaeda_affi.php# Since the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda&rsquos affiliates have taken on more central roles as al-Qaeda&rsquos core has become more decentralized. Zawahiri brokered mergers with a number of Islamist groups including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (previously the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC) and al-Shabaab. Jean-Pierre Filiu, &ldquoAl-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: Algerian Challenge or Global Threat?&rdquo Carnegie Papers Number 104 (2009): 3 Jonathan Masters, &ldquoAl-Shabab,&rdquo Council on Foreign Relations, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650.
In North Africa and the Sahel, al-Qaeda is represented by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its breakaway factions. In East Africa, the group is represented by Somali-based al-Shabaab. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which many security analysts believe poses the greatest security threat to Western targets, operates primarily in Yemen. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is the most recent regional al-Qaeda affiliate to be established, operating chiefly in India, Bangladesh, as well as in the traditional al-Qaeda &ldquohome&rdquo countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. For years, al-Qaeda sustained a formal affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham). In July 2016, the groups announced that they had split, a move some analysts dismissed as artificial. Thomas Joscelyn, &ldquoAnalysis: Al Nusrah Front rebrands itself as Jabhat Fath Al Sham,&rdquo Long War Journal, July 28, 2016, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/07/analysis-al-nusrah-front-rebrands-itself-as-jabhat-fath-al-sham.php. Al-Nusra subsequently dissolved and was subsumed into a new, larger Syrian Islamist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (&ldquoAssembly for the Liberation of the Levant&rdquo or HTS). While al-Nusra Front continues to operate under the HTS name, the group has since reverted back to its core of about 10,000 fighters, most of them belonging to al-Nusra Front. Aron Lund, &ldquoA Jihadist Breakup in Syria,&rdquo Foreign Affairs, September 15, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2017-09-15/jihadist-breakup-syria.
Recent developments suggest that al-Qaeda&rsquos primacy of command is not exclusive to the group&rsquos geographical base in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In August 2013, Zawahiri appointed Nasir al-Wuhayshi, former head of AQAP, as deputy leader of al-Qaeda&rsquos global organization. Eli Lake, &ldquoMeet al Qaeda&rsquos New General Manager: Nasser al-Wuhayshi,&rdquo Daily Beast, August 9, 2013, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/09/meet-al-qaeda-s-new-general-manager-nasser-al-wuhayshi.html. After Wuhayshi died in a U.S. airstrike in June 2015, Zawahiri appointed deputy leader Abu Khayr al-Masri, who was also killed in a U.S. airstrike. Hamdi Alkhshali and Barbara Starr, &ldquoDeputy al Qaeda leader killed In Syria,&rdquo CNN, February 28, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/middleeast/deputy-al-qaeda-leader-killed/index.html Ray Sanchez and Paul Cruickshank, &ldquoSyria&rsquos al-Nusra rebrands and cuts ties with al Qaeda,&rdquo CNN, August 1, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/28/middleeast/al-nusra-al-qaeda-split/ Zawahiri reportedly groomed Osama bin Laden&rsquos son Hamza bin Laden for a senior leadership role prior to Hamza bin Laden&rsquos death in 2019. Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, &ldquoLatest al Qaeda propaganda highlights bin Laden&rsquos son,&rdquo CNN, May 15, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/middleeast/al-qaeda-bin-laden-son/index.html
The 2011 death of bin Laden compounded with the deaths or arrests of other al-Qaeda leaders have degraded the group&rsquos communications, financial support, and facilitation of terror attacks, according to the U.S. State Department. Nevertheless, al-Qaeda&rsquos core remains a source of inspiration for its affiliate groups, according to the State Department. &ldquoCountry Reports on Terrorism 2016,&rdquo U.S. Department of State, July 2017, 433, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/272488.pdf
On November 13, 2020, there were reports that Zawahiri may be dead or at least &ldquocompletely off the grid.&rdquo The claim came from Hassan Hassan, the director of the U.S.-based Center for Global Policy (CGP), who has closely monitored the militant group&rsquos activities over the years. According to Hassan&mdashwho corroborated the claim with sources close to al-Qaeda&mdashZawahiri had been seriously ill and had possibly died in mid-October due to natural causes. Daniel L. Byman, &ldquoThe death of Ayman al-Zawahri and the future of al-Qaida,&rdquo Brookings, November 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/11/17/the-death-of-ayman-al-zawahri-and-the-future-of-al-qaida/ Hassan Hassan, Twitter, November 13, 2020, https://twitter.com/hxhassan/status/1328378494611492865?s=20. According to Arab News on November 20, security sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as an al-Qaeda translator with close ties to the group, claimed Zawahiri died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, from &ldquoasthma because he had no formal treatment.&rdquo The exact date of Zawahiri&rsquos death was not released, but a Pakistani anti-terror security officer claims Zawahiri died sometime in November 2020. Baker Atyani and Sayed Salahuddin, &ldquoAl-Qaeda chief Zawahiri has died in Afghanistan &mdash sources,&rdquo Arab News, November 20, 2020, https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1765746/world Tim Stickings, &ldquoAl-Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has died, reports claim terror chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has died in Afghanistan from 'asthma-related breathing issues',&rdquo Daily Mail, November 20, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8970231/Al-Qaedas-leader-Ayman-al-Zawahiri-died-reports-claim.html. It is suspected that Saif al-Adel, one of Zawahiri&rsquos chief deputies, is next in line to succeed Zawahiri as the leader of al-Qaeda. Kabir Taneja, &ldquoAl Qaeda is battered, but don&rsquot rejoice yet,&rdquo Observer Research Foundation, November 18, 2020, https://www.orfonline.org/research/al-qaeda-is-battered-but-dont-rejoice-yet/.
In late February 2021, some British media began reporting that Adel is soon to be or may have already been named the leader of al-Qaeda. According to retired British Army officer Colonel Richard Kemp, Adel is highly respected among both al-Qaeda and ISIS. As such, some analysts expected Adel to begin recruiting from current ISIS fighters. Analysts told the Mirror Adel is a more effective leader than Zawahiri and could make al-Qaeda as dangerous as it was in 2001. Dan Keane, &ldquoTERROR TAUNT Al-Qaeda now as dangerous as under Osama Bin Laden as new chief dubbed &lsquoSword of Revenge&rsquo vows to attack, expert claims,&rdquo Sun (London), February 25, 2021, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/14159205/al-qaeda-dangerous-osama-bin-laden/ Chris Hughes, &ldquoNew Al-Qaeda boss known as Sword of Revenge is &lsquoworse than Osama bin Laden,&rsquo&rdquo Mirror (London), February 24, 2021, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/new-al-qaeda-boss-known-23559133.
Al-Qaeda has yet to publicly confirm Zawahiri&rsquos death and has continued to feature him. On March 12, 2021, al-Qaeda released a new video featuring Zawahiri&rsquos voice addressing the plight of Rohingya Muslims in China. However, Zawahiri was not the main speaker, nor did he physically appear in the video, leading observers to question whether the video had used pieces of a previously recorded speech by Zawahiri. &ldquoNew video message from al-Qai&rsquodah&rsquos Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri: &ldquoThe Wound of the Rohingya is the Wound of the Islamic Nation,&rdquo Jihadology, March 12, 2021, https://jihadology.net/2021/03/12/new-video-message-from-al-qaidahs-dr-ayman-al-%e1%ba%93awahiri-the-wound-of-the-rohingya-is-the-wound-of-the-islamic-nation/ Cole Bunzel, &ldquoIs Ayman al-Zawahiri Dead?,&rdquo Jihadica, March 17, 2021, http://www.jihadica.com/is-ayman-al-zawahiri-dead/.
In its early stages, al-Qaeda&rsquos primary bankroller was its founder Osama bin Laden. Since then, al-Qaeda has come to rely on donations and extorted funds for financing. The CIA estimates that al-Qaeda maintained a $30 million annual budget prior to the 9/11 attacks, and that donations primarily made up this budget. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, 169-170, https://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf A 2002 report by the Council on Foreign Relations identified a network of &ldquocharities, nongovernmental organizations, mosques, websites, intermediaries, facilitators, and banks and other financial institutions&rdquo that were serving to finance the terrorist organization. Greg Bruno, &ldquoAl-Qaeda&rsquos Financial Pressures,&rdquo Council on Foreign Relations, February 1, 2010, https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/al-qaedas-financial-pressures
Today, al-Qaeda receives funding from a wide range of sources, including private donors, Islamic charities and foundations, state sponsors, and from activities linked to drug trafficking, bank robbery, and hostage-taking. Nonetheless, wide-ranging sanctions by the United States, United Nations, Financial Action Task Force, and other international financial organizations have slowed the flow of money to the terror group. By 2009, al-Qaeda was reportedly suffering from negative cash flow and was forced to seek out new revenue streams Sean Lengell, &ldquoU.S. claims to disrupt al Qaeda funds,&rdquo Washington Times, October 13, 2009, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/13/us-claims-to-disrupt-terror-funds/ as al-Qaeda recruits complained of being charged for weapons and other supplies. Sebastian Rotella, &ldquoAl Qaeda recruits back in Europe, but why?&rdquo Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2009, http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/24/world/fg-junior-jihadis24 In October 2009, David S. Cohen, then-assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing, said that al-Qaeda was in its &ldquoweakest financial condition in several years.&rdquo Sean Lengell, &ldquoU.S. claims to disrupt al Qaeda funds,&rdquo Washington Times, October 13, 2009, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/13/us-claims-to-disrupt-terror-funds/
After bin Laden&rsquos death in 2011, analysts questioned whether al-Qaeda could survive financially or if it had depended too much on bin Laden&rsquos celebrity. But al-Qaeda had laid the groundwork for a new fundraising strategy based on drug trafficking and kidnappings to bolster its finances. Rachel Ehrenfeld, &ldquoDrug trafficking, kidnapping fund al Qaeda,&rdquo CNN, May 4, 2011, http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/05/03/ehrenfeld.al.qaeda.funding/index.html A year before, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official had pointed to an &ldquounholy alliance&rdquo between al-Qaeda and Colombian guerillas in the cocaine smuggling trade. Hugh Bronstein, &ldquoColombia rebels, al Qaeda in &lsquounholy&rsquo drug alliance,&rdquo Reuters, January 4, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-drugs-colombia-qaeda-interview-idUKTRE6034L920100104
U.S. forces searching bin Laden&rsquos Pakistani compound in May 2011 discovered a trove of financial records. Analysts believe that al-Qaeda&rsquos structure of international affiliates necessitated a paper trail in order for the group&rsquos leadership to maintain control of its affiliates&rsquo finances. Dina Temple-Raston, &ldquoAl-Qaida's Paper Trail: A 'Treasure Trove' For U.S.,&rdquo NPR, May 31, 2011, http://www.npr.org/2011/05/31/136721965/al-qaidas-paper-trail-a-treasure-trove-for-u-s Receipts found in an al-Qaeda hideout in Mali in 2013 revealed al-Qaeda&rsquos corporate-like financial structure. The group meticulously kept receipts and invoices for major and minor expenses, from propaganda trips to fresh produce and tea. Courtney Subramanian, &ldquoAl-Qaeda Receipts Reveal Meticulous Accounting Habits,&rdquo Time, December 29, 2013, http://world.time.com/2013/12/29/al-qaeda-receipts-reveal-meticulous-accounting-habits/ According to William McCants, a former adviser to the State Department&rsquos Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, &ldquoThey have so few ways to keep control of their operatives, to rein them in and make them do what they are supposed to do. They have to run it like a business.&rdquo Connor Simpson, &ldquoAl Qaeda Are Strict About Keeping Track of Their Receipts,&rdquo Atlantic, December 29, 2013, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/12/al-qaeda-are-strict-about-keeping-track-their-receipts/356552/
Al-Qaeda has misused charities to enhance its cash flow. In 2004, for example, the U.S. government sanctioned the Sudan-based Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) for funneling roughly $5 million to Maktab al-Khidamat, bin Laden&rsquos al-Qaeda predecessor. ISRA is present in 40 countries around the world. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, ISRA began collaborating with Maktab al-Khidamat in 1997. An ISRA leader was allegedly involved in planning to relocate bin Laden in the late 1990s. &ldquoResource Center &ndash Protecting Charitable Organizations,&rdquo U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed January 12, 2021, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Pages/protecting-charities_execorder_13224-i.aspx. According to a December 2020 U.S. Senate investigation, the Obama administration in 2014 approved a $200,000 grant to the non-profit humanitarian agency World Vision United States, which was collaborating with ISRA at the time. World Vision ended its funding of ISRA after later learning of its designation. National Review, &ldquoSenate Investigation Finds Obama Admin Knowingly Funded al-Qaeda Affiliate,&rdquo Yahoo! News, December 29, 2020, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/senate-investigation-finds-obama-admin-201648458.html.
During the 1990s, bin Laden built a network of private donors to al-Qaeda using contacts he established during the Soviet-Afghan war. Bin Laden&rsquos early donors to al-Qaeda in the 1990s relied &ldquoon ties to wealthy Saudi individuals that he had established during the Afghan war in the 1980s,&rdquo according to the U.S. 9/11 Commission. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, 170, https://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf. In 2002, U.S. forces in Bosnia seized a cache of al-Qaeda documents that revealed a global network of private donors. Among the documents was a 1988 memorandum that identified a group of 20 Saudi financial donors, referred to as &ldquothe Golden Chain,&rdquo which included members of bin Laden&rsquos family, as well as prominent wealthy Saudis such as Saleh Kamel and Khalid bin Mahfouz, and the Al-Rajhi family. Glenn R. Simpson, &ldquoList of Early al Qaeda Donors Points to Saudi Elite, Charities,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2003, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB104794563734573400
High-profile private donors to al-Qaeda also include: &lsquoAbd al-Rahman bin &lsquoUmayr al-Nu&rsquoaymi &ldquoTreasury Designates Al-Qa&rsquoida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,&rdquo U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 18, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx. &lsquoAbd al-Wahhab Muhammad &lsquoAbd al-Rahman al-Humayqani &ldquoTreasury Designates Al-Qa&rsquoida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,&rdquo U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 18, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx. Enaam Arnaout &ldquoTreasury Designates Benevolence International Foundation and Related Entities as Financiers of Terrorism,&rdquo U.S. Department of the Treasury, November 19, 2002, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po3632.aspx. Muhammad Yaqub Mirza Glenn Simpson, &ldquoU.S. Indicts Head of Charity For Helping Fund al Qaeda,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2002, http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB1034185882821997916. Shafi Sultan Mohammed al-Ajmi Jay Solomon, &ldquoU.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782. Hajjaj Fahd Hajjaj Muhammad Shabib al-Ajmi Jay Solomon, &ldquoU.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782. and Abd al-Rahman Khalaf Ubayad Juday al-Anizi. Jay Solomon, &ldquoU.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782.
By 2009, donations to al-Qaeda had reportedly slowed to a near halt. On June 3, 2009, bin Laden issued an appeal for &ldquocharity and support&rdquo for al-Qaeda&rsquos affiliates in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In an audio message a week later, al-Qaeda&rsquos Afghanistan leader, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, said that the group lacked food, weapons, and other supplies. William Maclean, &ldquoQaeda struggling with slump in donations,&rdquo June 12, 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-security-qaeda-finance-analysis-idUSTRE55B3DZ20090612?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0 That August, then-deputy al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri entreated Pakistani Muslims in particular to &ldquoback the jihad and mujahideen with your persons, wealth.&rdquo &ldquoQaeda&rsquos Zawahiri calls for Pakistani jihad,&rdquo Reuters, August 28,2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-qaeda-idUSTRE57R1CJ20090828
In October 2015, a U.S. airstrike killed Sanafi al-Nasr, a former senior al-Qaeda financial leader who had revived the group financially. United Nations Security Council, &ldquoUnited Nations Security Council Adds Names of Six Individuals to Al-Qaida Sanctions List,&rdquo United Nations, August 15, 2014, http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/sc11521.doc.htm Nasr had set up a fundraising network based in Iran, from where he transferred donations from around the Persian Gulf to al-Qaeda&rsquos leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, &ldquoUS military confirms it killed senior al Qaeda strategist Sanafi al Nasr in airstrike in Syria,&rdquo Long War Journal, October 18, 2015, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/10/us-military-confirms-it-killed-senior-al-qaeda-strategist-sanafi-al-nasr-in-airstrike-in-syria.php Today, according to the U.S. State Department, al-Qaeda funding continues to come primarily from donations and the diversion of funds from Islamic charities. &ldquoCountry Reports on Terrorism 2016,&rdquo U.S. Department of State, July 2017, 433, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/272488.pdf
Al-Qaeda has focused its recruiting on the Middle East, where al-Qaeda's holy war garners adherents from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Potential recruits are often identified due to the character of their faith. Recruiters patrol certain mosques known for extremist interpretations of Islamic texts and seek out the most curious or fervent believers. Seaman William Selby, &ldquoDetained Terrorists Reveal Al-Qaeda Recruiting Process,&rdquo Armed Forces Press Service, March 18, 2008, http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=49310. Recruits are quickly immersed in doctrines of martyrdom and jihad and instructed in the religious duty to establish the caliphate.
Local insurgent groups in the Middle East and North Africa have found that the al-Qaeda label itself helps to attract new members on the basis of al-Qaeda&rsquos global revolutionary agenda. As counterterrorism scholar Daniel Byman notes, &ldquoGroups like al-Shabab often have an inchoate ideology al Qaeda offers them a coherent&mdashand, to a certain audience, appealing&mdashalternative.&rdquo Daniel Byman, &ldquoAl Qaeda's M&A Strategy,&rdquo Brookings Institution, December 7, 2010, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2010/12/07-al-qaeda-byman.
In Europe, al-Qaeda has sought recruits from those marginalized by society. They have actively, if informally, recruited members from Europe&rsquos prison system. In 2006, Steve Gough of the U.K.&rsquos Prison Officers Association said he did not think there were &ldquoal-Qaida-controlled wings&rdquo yet in British prisons. Nonetheless, Gough noted that al-Qaeda was already recruiting prisoners who shared their cells or were held in cells nearby. Alan Travis, &ldquoPrisons failing to tackle terror recruitment,&rdquo Guardian (London), October 1, 2006, http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/oct/02/prisonsandprobation.terrorism. In France, two of the alleged January 2015 Paris attackers, Amedy Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, met al-Qaeda&rsquos &ldquopremiere European recruiter,&rdquo Djamel Beghal, in prison. Scott Bronstein, Drew Griffin, and Deborah Feyerick, &ldquoFor Paris attackers, terror ties ran deep,&rdquo CNN, January 13, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/europe/paris-terror-suspects-al-qaeda-ties/.
In recent years, both al-Qaeda and ISIS have reportedly focused their international recruitment efforts on young adults. Psychologists call this group &ldquoin-betweeners,&rdquo referring to young adults who have not solidified their identities. Scott Shane, Richard Perez-Pena, and Aurelien Breeden, &ldquo&lsquoIn-Betweeners&rsquo Are Part of a Rich Recruiting Pool for Jihadists,&rdquo New York Times, September 22, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/us/isis-al-qaeda-recruits-anwar-al-awlaki.htm l One example is Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old naturalized Afghan-American who allegedly planted bombs in New York City and New Jersey in September 2016. Police discovered that Rahimi had praised bin Laden and deceased AQAP cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in his journal. Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ &lsquoAhmad Rahimi,&rsquo defendant,&rdquo U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download Rahimi spent several weeks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, and his father believed he had radicalized on the trip. https://www.counterextremism.com/extremists/ahmad-khan-rahamiCatherine E. Shoichet, &ldquoAhmad Khan Rahami: What We Know about the Bombing Suspect,&rdquo CNN, September 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/19/us/ahmad-khan-rahami Marc Santora and Adam Goldman, &ldquoAhmad Khan Rahami Was Inspired by Bin Laden, Charges Say,&rdquo New York Times, September 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-suspect.html Spencer Ackerman, Paul Owen, and Amber Jamieson, &ldquoAhmad Khan Rahami&rsquos Father Contacted FBI in 2014 over Terrorism Worry,&rdquo Guardian (London), September 20, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/ahmad-khan-rahami-father-fbi-terrorism-bombing
In Pakistan, al-Qaeda entices recruits through a plethora of benefits. Documents recovered from bin Laden&rsquos Pakistani compound in May 2011 revealed that married al-Qaeda fighters received seven days of vacation for every three weeks worked, while bachelors received five days of vacation per month. Married fighters received a monthly salary of $108, or more if they had more than one wife. Dina Temple-Raston, &ldquoAl-Qaida's Paper Trail: A 'Treasure Trove' For U.S.,&rdquo NPR, May 31, 2011, http://www.npr.org/2011/05/31/136721965/al-qaidas-paper-trail-a-treasure-trove-for-u-s
Al-Qaeda's online recruitment has grown increasingly sophisticated. Its broad goal has been twofold: to increase the charm of an austere existence rooted in religion and then to shame those who abstain from this duty. These dual messages are conveyed online in many ways. Jihadist-inspired rap music, video games, and comics have successfully cast holy war positively and pulled new recruits into the organization. Andrew Dornbierer, &ldquoHow al-Qaeda Recruits Online,&rdquo Diplomat, September 13, 2011, http://thediplomat.com/2011/09/how-al-qaeda-recruits-online/.
Al-Qaeda relies on multiple methods to train its fighters, ranging from physical training camps to propaganda. In May 2012, AQAP&rsquos English-language magazine, Inspire, published instructions on how to carry out domestic terror attacks, focusing on arson. &ldquo'Unleash Hell': New Al Qaeda magazine describes in detail how to start huge forest fires across the U.S..with instructions on how to make 'ember bombs,&rsquo&rdquo Daily Mail (London), May 3, 2012, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2138758/Unleash-Hell-New-Al-Qaeda-magazine-describes-start-huge-forest-fires-U-S-instructions-make-ember-bombs.html#ixzz4p6RdlaaZ Also that month, al-Qaeda released a training manual for Western recruits, authored by American AQAP member Samir Khan. The manual included information to help Western recruits acclimate to life with al-Qaeda in the Middle East, though it also encouraged recruits to instead carry out terror attacks in their home countries. According to the manual, one of the &ldquopillars of modern day jihad&rdquo is secrecy. Duncan Gardham, &ldquoEnglish language al-Qaeda training manual revealed,&rdquo Telegraph (London), May 14, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/9265512/English-language-al-Qaeda-training-manual-revealed.html
From the Lackawanna Six to Charlie Hebdo
Sahim Alwan was one of the &ldquoLackawanna Six&rdquo from Buffalo, New York, who were convicted of supporting al-Qaeda after attending a terror training camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. Christopher M. Matthews, &ldquoAl Qaeda Trainee Describes Training Camp During Terror Trial,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303824204579423753034928002. More than 10 years later, Saïd Kouachi, one of the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings, confirmed that he spent &ldquoa few months&rdquo training in small-arms combat, marksmanship, and other skills on display in videos of the military-style attack. Thus, despite the increase in lone-wolf incidents since 9/11, traditional terrorist operations, including recruitment and training at foreign camps, remain a threat to Western security today.
Al-Qaeda training camps are located in numerous countries around the globe. While allied with the Taliban, al-Qaeda established several training camps in Afghanistan, including the sprawling Tarnak Farms, where Osama bin Laden allegedly plotted 9/11. Most Afghan camps were destroyed during the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country after 9/11. &ldquoTerrorist Training and Indoctrination,&rdquo MI5 Security Service, accessed March 14, 2015, https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/about-us/what-we-do/the-threats/terrorism/international-terrorism/international-terrorism-and-the-uk/terrorist-training.html. Unfortunately, as Joshua E. Keating of Newsweek noted in January 2015, &ldquoWhere once there were few sanctuaries for jihadists [i.e., primarily in Afghanistan], now there are many&mdashin Syria and Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia.&rdquo Today&rsquos jihadist training camps are created by a dispersed membership of not only al-Qaeda core but also offshoots like AQAP and AQIM. Kurt Eichenwald, &ldquoThe Strategic Blunder Behind the War on Terror,&rdquo Newsweek, January 13, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/23/paris-massacre-was-declaration-new-kind-war-298810.html.
In Africa, AQIM ran a training camp for eight months in Timbuktu, Mali before France conducted an airstrike that destroyed the unassuming building. A cook and cleaner at the facility recalled, &ldquo[The building was] ringed by a perimeter fence topped with barbed wire&rdquo and &ldquobecame the hub for AQIM's new recruits. They [the recruits] ate, slept and trained in the old Gendarmerie, turning some of its rooms into dormitories. David Blair, &ldquoTimbuktu: al-Qaeda&rsquos terrorist training academy in the Mali desert,&rdquo Telegraph (London), February 11, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9860822/Timbuktu-al-Qaedas-terrorist-training-academy-in-the-Mali-desert.html. &rdquo
Al-Qaeda also relies on proxy training facilities from like-minded terrorist outfits like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) in Pakistan. The latter group allegedly plotted the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Joshua E. Keating, &ldquoWhat Do You Learn at Terrorist Training Camp?&rdquo Foreign Policy, May 10, 2010, http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/05/10/what-do-you-learn-at-terrorist-training-camp/. Keating notes that:
The camps these groups run are often small, just one or two buildings, and temporary &mdash such groups stay on the move to avoid detection by satellite or intelligence agents. These groups are believed to be increasingly sharing resources when it comes to training. According to some estimates, there are about 40 militant training camps around Pakistan. Joshua E. Keating, &ldquoWhat Do You Learn at Terrorist Training Camp?&rdquo Foreign Policy, May 10, 2010, http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/05/10/what-do-you-learn-at-terrorist-training-camp/.
Nonetheless, in late 2015, U.S. and Afghan forces discovered a large training camp in Qandahar Province, suggesting that al-Qaeda has &ldquoexpanded its presence in Afghanistan.&rdquo Carla E. Humud, &ldquoAl Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,&rdquo Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.
In addition to physical training, indoctrination through study, videos, prayer, and a generally regimented lifestyle is meant to reinforce the singular message of jihad that al-Qaeda wishes to inspire in its trainees. Alwan noted that at the camp he attended, there was a billboard displaying a Quranic message that said, &ldquoPrepare for them what you can of strength so they may cast fear in the enemies of God.&rdquo Christopher M. Matthews, &ldquoAl Qaeda Trainee Describes Training Camp During Terror Trial,&rdquo Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303824204579423753034928002.
An al-Qaeda manual found in May 2000 further illustrates the degree of indoctrination that jihadists face in camp. The 180-page &ldquohandwritten terror instruction book&rdquo is dubbed the &ldquoManchester Manual&rdquo because British anti-terror police found it in a raid on the apartment of al-Qaeda commander Abu Anas al-Liby in Manchester, England. Liby was wanted for plotting the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. Ian Drury, Chris Greenwood, and Martin Robinson, &ldquoManchester Link of al-Qaeda Commander Captured in Daring U.S. Delta Forces Raid as It Emerges Jihadist Gave Scotland Yard the Slip 13 Years Ago After Being Given Asylum in the UK,&rdquo Daily Mail (London), last modified October 7, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2447532/Al-Qaeda-commander-Abu-Anas-al-Liby-snatched-Libya-US-Delta-Force.html#ixzz3SEEh5jkk. The manual provides significant insight on the type of training al-Qaeda soldiers receive beyond physical training. Specifically, according to the U.S. Joint Task Force Guantanamo, &ldquoThe Manchester Manual is literally an overarching basic guide that simply covers just about everything. It covers how to conduct general combat operations, how to escape and evade capture and how to behave in captivity. There is even a chapter on how to poison yourself using your own feces.&rdquo Shanita Simmons, &ldquoManchester Manual The Code of Conduct for terrorism,&rdquo Joint Task Force Guantanamo, August 14, 2007, http://www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil/storyarchive/2007/August/081407-2-manmanual.html.
Much of the information in the manual was corroborated by Guantanamo Bay detainees regarding al-Qaeda operative training. For example, Omar Sheik [a kidnapper of Daniel Pearl] told his interrogators that he was trained in&hellip the art of disguise. secret rendezvous techniques hidden writing techniques [and] cryptology and codes. Moreover, Khalid Sheik Muhammad&mdashthe mastermind of the 9/11 attacks&mdashadmitted that he assisted the hijackers in preparing to live a Western lifestyle by instructing them how to order food at restaurants and wear Western clothes, amongst other things. Furthermore, an al-Qaeda training manual entitled, &ldquoDeclaration of Jihad Against the Country&rsquos Tyrants (Military Series), written primarily with the stated purpose of helping operatives avoid detection when infiltrating an enemy area, teaches lessons in forging documents and counterfeiting currency, living a cover, cell compartmentalization, and meeting and communicating clandestinely&hellip Devin D. Jesse, &ldquoTactical Means, Strategic Ends: Al Qaeda&rsquos Use of Denial and Deception,&rdquo Terrorism and Political Violence 18 (2006): 371, http://www.international.ucla.edu/media/files/FTPV_A_175157_P.pdf.
Today, there are numerous ideological offshoots that either continue to support or have deviated from al-Qaeda in the Middle East and other regions. As mentioned above, al-Qaeda itself continues some training camps but also increasingly outsources to allied groups in countries such as Pakistan. The need for such camps to remain under the radar will only grow as more countries band together to fight ISIS (which has more than 40 camps in Iraq and Syria alone) and other violent extremist groups like al-Nusra Front and Boko Haram.
The al-Qaeda attacks on America on September 11, 2001 – now known as 9/11 – were the worst terrorist atrocity in modern history and shaped the decade to come.
The al-Qaeda attacks on America on September 11, 2001 – now known as 9/11 – were the worst terrorist atrocity in modern history and shaped the decade to come.
They triggered the ongoing “War on Terror” by America and Britain, which involved the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and has been met with countless further terror attacks.
In a meticulously planned operation, 19 members of the extremist Islamic terror network al-Qaeda, run by Osama Bin Laden, hijacked four airliners over the U.S. on the morning of September 11.
Both buildings, worldwide icons of architecture since 1973, collapsed within two hours on live TV as hundreds of millions of people watched in horror.
Around 2,600 people of many nationalities, races and creeds were killed in the towers or on the ground. Everyone on the two planes was killed.
A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. Defence Department, just outside Washington DC.
The fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania as passengers and crew tried to retake control.
There were no survivors on any plane. In all, the attacks killed 2,973 people and the 19 terrorists.
The world went into shock at witnessing the mass murders and the apocalyptic destruction in one of the great cities of the Earth.
The financial effects were profound. Stock markets collapsed. U.S. shares alone lost more than $1trillion.
The cost of clearing and rebuilding the World Trade Centre site, known as ‘Ground Zero’, ran into many billions of dollars.
Governments around the world condemned the attacks, with the notable exception of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Many nations brought in sweeping new anti-terror measures.
America, led by President George W Bush, and its staunch ally Britain, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, were determined to avenge the attack and prevent another.
First target was the Taliban’s brutal, repressive extremist Islamic regime in Afghanistan which had given al-Qaeda a base from which to train and plan operations.
Within three months of 9/11, Allied air and land forces had routed the Taliban and killed many al-Qaeda fighters holed up in caves near the Pakistan border.
However, the terrorists’ leaders, including Bin Laden, escaped into Pakistan.
America and Britain turned their attentions to Iraq, arguing that it sponsored terrorism and wrongly believing it was secretly harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
The Allies began the assault on March 20, 2003. By April 9, they took Baghdad and Saddam Hussein’s rule was over.
He escaped, but was caught in December 2003 and hanged three years later.
Despite the war on terror, Al-Qaeda and its many offshoots remained active with a host of attacks on different continents, most notably for Britain the July 7, 2005 (7/7) suicide bombings on the London Tube and on a London bus which killed 56 people and wounded around 700.
The war against, and rebuilding of, Iraq distracted the Allies from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to regroup and return in numbers around 2006.
The operation to rid the country of them is still ongoing, ten years after the 9/11 attacks.
Bin Laden remained the most hunted man on Earth for almost a decade. Then, in May 2011, years of intelligence work finally tracked him down to a secret compound in Pakistan, where he was shot dead by U.S. Navy Seals during a covert night-time operation ordered by President Barack Obama.
Work to rebuild New York’s World Trade Centre site is continuing. A single skyscraper to replace the twin towers is likely to open in 2013 and will be America's tallest building.
Al-Qaeda: History, Terrorism, Bin Laden
Al-Qaeda, an Arabic word for “the base” was a terrorist group started in 1988 by a wealthy Saudi named Osama Bin Laden. The members of Al-Qaeda believe an extremist form of Islam known as Wahhabi. This is one of the most traditional forms of Islam which teaches that the only respectable word is that of the Muslim God “Allah”. In this form of Islam, Wahhabi is taught that all those who do not follow in this branch of Islam are known as “infidels”. The Wahhabi believes that all wars in the 20 th century were brought on by democracy as well. Through these beliefs Al-Qaeda expanded over the 1990’s, and began to establish a strict set of values and beliefs. Al-Qaeda also evolved over the years in terms of the tactics that they used to carry out their terrorism.
Al-Qaeda was started by Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1988 (Brief History of Al Qaeda). Bin Laden, born in 1957 was the seventh son of Muhammad awad Bin Laden. Bin Laden came from a wealthy family, as his father was a successful construction man with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Bin Laden was raised as a devout Sunni Muslim, and after the events of the Islamic revolution in 1979, Bin Laden became inspired (Osama Bin Laden Biography). Bin Laden originally joined a group called the MAK, but he did not believe that they had enough of an active military presence. As a result of this Bin Laden decided to start Al-Qaeda (Osama Bin Laden Biography).
In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan resulting in the formation of a group of people called the Mujahedeen warriors. Mujahedeen is the Arabic term for “holy warriors” (Mujahedeen). These warriors faced off against an allied group of Soviets, and Afghan Marxists. The United States saw the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as another example of Soviet expansionism, and did everything short of going to war to stop the aggressors (Afghanistan and the CIA). One of these steps was to funnel money through to these mujahedeen warriors through a fund in Pakistan as part of Operation Cyclone. As a result of this new wealth the mujahedeen were able to launch a full scale “jihad”, or holy war against the Soviets (Jihad). From the emergence of the mujahedeen, Osama Bin Laden was able to open up training camps in Afghanistan which ultimately led to the formation of Al-Qaeda. Through much persistence in 1989, the mujahedeen were able to drive the USSR out of Afghanistan, and within three years defeated the Afghan Marxists.
At this point in time, the US was seen as an ally to Al Qaeda. However, in the following two years Bin Laden’s opinion of the US would change greatly. Following the victory in Afghanistan, Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. However, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia was put at great risk. Saudi Arabia contains the world’s most valuable oil fields, which was exactly the purpose of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The Saudi forces were greatly outnumbered, so as a result Bin Laden offered his mujahedeen forces to protect the Saudi homeland. However, Bin Laden was refused, and King Faud instead summoned the US, and Allied forces to protect the Saudi homeland (A Nation Challenged: Saudi Arabia). Bin Laden was extremely angry that foreign troops were in the presence of the two holiest mosques in the world. He believed that this made Saudi soil profane, and he decided to speak out against the Saudi decision (A Nation Challenged: Saudi Arabia). As a result of his public outrage Bin Laden was exiled to Sudan, and his hate for the US was fuelled even more.
Bin Laden developed a new motive to start doing terrorist attacks against American soldiers in the Middle East. After opening militant training camps in Sudan, Al-Qaeda’s first attack took place in 1992, in the city of Aden, Yemen. The bombings occurred in two hotels which Bin Laden believed were housing American soldiers on their way to Somalia to help with famine relief (Al-Qaeda’s Global Context). Unfortunately for Bin Laden, the US soldiers were staying in a different hotel and no American was injured in the incident (Al-Qaeda’s Global Context). Despite no Americans being injured Al-Qaeda had now registered itself on the American radar, and more attacks were to follow.
Al-Qaeda made a big splash the following February as they did their first attack on American soil. In February 1993, Ramzi Yousef, an associate of Osama Bin Laden detonated a car bomb below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City (World Trade Center Bombing). Yousef, and a Jordanian friend drove a Ryder truck containing a 1500 lb bomb with a twenty foot fuse into the basement of the North tower (World Trade Center Bombing). Yousef then lit the fuse and vacated the premises immediately. After 12 minutes, the bomb detonated and ripped a thirty meter hole in the foundational concrete, killing six people and injuring 1042 (World Trade Center Bombing). As a result of this attack there was a lot of outrage in the United States, and Bin Laden became a household name.
After these attacks Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda experienced a quiet period in which they did not initiate any new conflicts. During this time, Al-Qaeda faced turmoil, as they failed in an attempt to assassinate Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak. This assassination attempt angered the Sudanese government who then exiled Bin Laden. Bin Laden could not return to Saudi Arabia, as he had his citizenship revoked. After a brief period of uncertainty, Bin Laden was able to find refuge in Afghanistan which had recently been overrun by an extremist Islam group known as the Taliban. In 1996, Bin Laden officially moved Al-Qaeda operations to Afghanistan where they would remain for the following five years.
1998 was the next major year of Al-Qaeda growth and initiative. Three major events occurred during this year. In February, 1998 Bin Laden and 2 nd in command Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a fatwa, which is a binding religious contract. The fatwa was issued against the United States. In this fatwa, Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda called for Muslims all over the globe to kill Americans at any opportunity. Bin Laden made the following statement: “The 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 Makka] 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.”(Al-Qaeda`s 1998 fatwa)
After this decree Bin Laden carried out two major attacks against the United States. In August, 1998, Al-Qaeda simultaneously bombed two American embassies in different locations in Africa. In the US embassy in Kenya, 212 people were killed and 400 were wounded when a van parked outside the complex detonated (African Embassy Bombings). At the exact same time, a van outside the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania detonated a bomb which killed 11 people and wounded 85 (African Embassy Bombings). As a result of these attacks, the US under Bill Clinton launched attacks on Al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. Despite destroying one base, Al-Qaeda remained essentially intact and was able to plan future attacks on the US.
In October, Al-Qaeda attacked an American warship called the USS Cole, killing seventeen people (USS Cole Casualties). This attack was followed by a period of relative calm for Al-Qaeda, in which they did not open any new operations. Finally, in August, 2001, Bin Laden warned the White House that he would attack soon. On September 11 th , 2001, Al Qaeda attacked the United States on American soil, in the first major milestone of the 21 st century.
Al Qaeda sent 19 hijackers aboard four planes, and hijacked them to be used as missiles for various landmarks. American Airlines Flight 11, and United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into both the World Trade Center towers, in New York City, destroying them both, by 10:28 AM EST (TIME: Day of Infamy). American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon, in Washington DC and destroyed one of the five rings of the building. United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked, but stormed by passengers, and driven into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Its destination was believed to be the Capitol building or the White House (TIME: Day of Infamy). Approximately 3000 people were killed in the attack, and the two largest buildings in New York City collapsed completely. As a result of this attack, the United States and the world were changed forever. This attack gave way for President George Bush to launch the War on Terror, which the US is still involved in today.
After the attack on the US, Bush responded on October 7 th , 2001 by bombing Afghanistan. At this point Al-Qaeda went into hiding, and Bin Laden has rarely been heard from since. Some believe Bin Laden is dead, while others believe he is hiding. Within a month, the Taliban, the governing body in Afghanistan had been ousted, and the US, and Northern Alliance army officially took over. Although it is uncertain as to whether or not Bin Laden is alive, one thing is certain. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, Bin Laden, and Al Qaeda has not had nearly the same impact on the world stage. Bin Laden has also not been seen in person since the invasion.
When one sees the different attacks that Al-Qaeda orchestrated over the course of the 1990’s, and early 2000’s, it is hard to believe anyone could do this without a strong belief in their ideals. Al-Qaeda outlines four main goals as long as they exist. The first of these goals is establishing the role of God on earth (Al-Qaida) To Al-Qaeda, this means that anyone who is not Muslim is an enemy of them. Anyone who does not subscribe to the beliefs of Islam does not understand the role of God on earth. As a result of American influence in the area, and their lack of subscription to Islam, they have become a great enemy of Al-Qaeda. Anyone who does not subscribe to this believe in the role of God is seen as an “infidel”, or person who does not accept the Islamic faith. A country like the US is viewed as infidels, and has become a desirable target for Al Qaeda as a result.
The second major goal of Al Qaeda is attaining martyrdom in the cause of God (Al-Qaida). Al Qaeda has gone to incredible lengths to achieve this goal. This goal justifies the variety of attacks over the course of the last twenty years. As a result of believing in going to incredible lengths to achieve martyrdom for God, a new phenomenon has occurred. This new phenomenon is known as the suicide bomber. During the early parts of the Iraq War, Al-Qaeda did large amounts of suicide bombings in order to disrupt US operations. This concept also carried over to September 11 th , as Al-Qaeda terrorists showed no fear in ramming a plane into a building at speeds of 500 miles per hour. Al-Qaeda terrorists have gone to incredible length to sacrifice their body to defeat their enemies in combat.
Al-Qaeda’s third major goal is the purification of Islam (Al Qaida). Over the course of the last century Islam has become much more modernized in some parts of the globe. Al-Qaeda stands to destroy this new movement, and revert to traditional methods of worshipping Islam. Countries like Turkey which have taken a more modern approach to Islam are seen as an enemy to Al-Qaeda. For this reason, Afghanistan became a very logical place for Bin Laden and his associates to set up camp in 1996. Afghanistan, which is run by the Taliban shares a very similar ideology when it comes to the purification of Islam. Upon their rise to prominence and takeover of the capital city Kabul, in 1996, several reforms were instituted. The following things were completely outlawed by the Taliban: “pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.“ (A Nation Challeged). This is in accordance with the most traditional and pure form of Islam, which is something that Al Qaeda supports strongly.
The final major goal for Al-Qaeda is the destruction of the state of Israel (Al-Qaida). The US is a great supporter of Israel, and this has always been a point of tension between the US and Al-Qaeda. Israel, which was founded in 1948, is located on the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded entirely by Arab states. The area is also inhabited by an Arab group known as the Palestinians, who also lay claim to the Jewish state. Upon Israel’s inception, most neighbouring states such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia waged war against Israel. The only real supporter of Israel at this time was the United States. Israel defeated these nations in the first war in 1948, and has been a nation ever since. According to Muslim extremists such as Al-Qaeda, this goes against the Qu’ran, as it is a holy area to Muslims. The capital city of Jerusalem is where the Muslim prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven on a chariot. Due to the fact that US supports Israel, on a site Muslims deem holy, the will continue to remain an enemy of Al-Qaeda.
Throughout the years as Al-Qaeda has evolved along with their tactics. During the earlier parts of their history, Al Qaeda preferred to use bombings, involving trucks, or other forms of motor vehicles. The attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, as well as the bombings of the US embassies in Africa, in 1998, used this method. However, over time Al-Qaeda began to use newer more creative methods, such as suicide attacks. Al-Qaeda was inspired after the Hamas and Fatah terrorist groups in Israel began to support suicide bombings in Israel around 2000. After this revelation of suicide bombings in late 2000, Al-Qaeda performed a suicide bombing attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. In 2001, Al-Qaeda developed a completely revolutionary idea of the suicide pilot as part of the 9/11 attacks. The idea of hijacking commercial airliners, and flying them into buildings had not really been seen before 9/11. This idea was revolutionary and still remains a threat at any airport in the world. Also, as the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, Al-Qaeda began to resort to kidnappings. Al-Qaeda would either ambush US military squads or journalists who were travelling with the military and kidnap them. The terrorists would then post videos on Islamic websites of them beheading these “infidels”, and send them to major news companies as well.
Since the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Al-Qaeda is nowhere near as powerful as it once was. Al-Qaeda no longer has a government who provides them with asylum as well as a noticeable face of leadership. As a result of this Al-Qaeda has no longer been able to pull off attacks at a consistent level. However, they still have helped bring “Jihad” to the west at some points. Now however, Al-Qaeda does not claim sole responsibility.
For example, in 2004, several bombs were put in backpacks and detonated on subway trains throughout Madrid, Spain. The attack resulted in 190 deaths and 250 injuries (Madrid Bomb Death Toll Lowered to 190). Al-Qaeda did not take direct responsibility for the attack, but the blame eventually was laid on them. The responsibility was given to a Spanish terrorist cell, which was Al-Qaeda inspired. This is the most common way in which Al-Qaeda affects the world today. They either inspire a group, or they help finance groups to do terrorist attacks for them. A bombing which took place in London, England, in 2005 was also done by Al-Qaeda inspired men protesting British involvement in Iraq.
Asides from Al-Qaeda using other groups to work for them, more recent developments involve their work in Yemen. On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab unsuccessfully attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, en route to Detroit. Although Abdulmutallab was from Nigeria, most of his education, training and financing came from within Yemen. As a result of this Al Qaeda in Yemen has become a major terrorist threat to the US.
A major crackdown has occurred by both Yemen and the US on Al-Qaeda operatives within Yemen. Since Christmas time, the Yemenite government has done several operations to destroy the Al-Qaeda organization in Yemen. Several raids, and bombings have taken place in order to capture and kill terrorists. Two operations occurring in late December after the Northwest incident led to the deaths of sixty Al-Qaeda operatives(Yemen Asserts 34 Rebels Killed in Raid on Qaeda). Yemen also has now refused to issue visas without the permission of their embassy as a result of recent incidents. Muslim youth from around the world have flocked to Yemen to study and be trained. However, as a result of this crackdown Al- Qaeda continues to search for a safe haven and a better opportunity to plan attacks.
The future of Al Qaeda holds great uncertainty for the coming years. Al-Qaeda which achieved the height of its power in 2001, is unlikely to reach those levels again. After September 11 th , Al-Qaeda caught the attention of the United States the most powerful nation on the planet. As a result of awakening this sleeping giant, Al- Qaeda will always be under heavy scrutiny from the US and will fail to go undetected in their planning in the near future. Also, as long as the US occupies Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda will not be able to work at its potential.
However, as a result of the US being in Afghanistan, and the Middle East, the conflict will continue. Although Al-Qaeda is not able to fight at its best, they will always continue to exist under these conditions. The US being on holy soil such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia angers many Muslims and gives them reason to want to fight the US. The US remains a source of anger for many Muslims, including those in Al Qaeda, who see their involvement in the Middle East as occupational and unnecessary. This makes the conflict into a circle that cannot realistically end. There will be times of tension such as 9/11, where terrorism is a large issue. There will also be times of lower tension in which terrorism and Al Qaeda are not a major issue. However, tensions over an issue like this cannot ever completely subside, and the conflict will never be completely over with. As soon as the matter is forgotten about, a new attack or issue will come around which brings Al-Qaeda to the front of the news. Also, the existence of Israel, and American support for Israel, means that tensions between terrorists and the west could explode at any time. As a result of this, it is never a good idea to think that Al-Qaeda will ever be completely disbanded.
Over the course of the last twenty years Al-Qaeda has really made a dent in the fabric of our society. They have been displayed as the great enemy to our society, and one of the greatest threats to our freedom. Under Osama Bin Laden the group has evolved over their history. They have performed many attacks, some of which have changed the world forever. Al-Qaeda has established its goals, which include, the purification of Islam, establishing the role of God on earth, attaining martyrdom in the cause of God, and the destruction of the state of Israel. Al-Qaeda has also greatly improved their tactics over the years, which ranged from car bombs, to hijacked airliners used as missiles. The conflict between Al-Qaeda and the rest of the world remains one of great uncertainty and only time will tell the results. One certainty about the issue is that far too many innocent people have been killed as a result of this problem, and that needs to be fixed.
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