Al-Qaeda

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Al-Qaeda or al-Qaida (القاعدة, translit: al-Qā`ida; "the Law", "the foundation", or "the base") is an armed Sunni Islamist organization with the stated objective of eliminating foreign influence in Muslim countries, eradicating those they deem to be "infidels", and reestablishing the caliphate. The most prominent members of the group are adherents of Wahhabism or Salafism, two understandings of Islam which have influenced militant groups. While Osama bin Laden is generally recognized as the group's leader, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri has also had a main influence on the groups theory and practice. The group's operations are not centralized, and many independent and collaborative cells may exist in multiple countries linked by a common cause.

al-Qaeda has committed multiple acts of terrorism and is known for planning and executing the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center and The Pentagon. In response, the United States government launched a series of legal, financial and military operations against the al-Qaeda organization, similar radical Islamist groups and anyone that harbored or supported them, dubbed the War on Terrorism. Due to its actions, the group is officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States,<ref name="US"> Template:Cite web </ref> the United Kingdom,<ref name="UK"> Template:Cite web </ref> Canada,<ref name="Canada"> Template:Cite web </ref> Australia,<ref name="Australia"> Template:Cite web </ref> Saudi Arabia, NATO,<ref name="NATOQaeda"> Template:Cite web </ref> and the United Nations.<ref name="UNQaeda"> Template:Cite web </ref>

Contents

[edit] Etymology and origin of the name

Osama bin Laden explained the origin of the term, al-Qaeda or al-Qaida (القاعدة, translit: al-Qā`ida; "the foundation", "the base") in his videotaped interview with al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Alouni in late 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 [meaning "the base" in English]. And the name stayed.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Robin Cook, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom and member of the House of Commons representative, claimed that "Al-Qaeda" states "literally ‘the database' and was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians." <ref>Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military meansAl-Qaeda are animals, The Guardian, July 8, 2005</ref>

This "database" was used with an associated computer network that was operated during the 1980's by the Islamic Bank for Development, which hosted an early form of dial-up Intranet for the Islamic Conference. This network was the main method of orchestrating terrorist acts and co-ordinating the Mujahideen's fight against the Soviets by the CIA.<ref>Pierre-Henri Bunel, [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=BUN20051120&articleId=1291 Al Qaeda -- the Database, Wayne Madsen Report, The Centre for Research on Globalization, November 20, 2005</ref>

An alternate theory, presented in the BBC film series "The Power of Nightmares" states that the name and concept of al-Qaeda was first used by the U.S. Department of Justice in January of 2001 at the New York City trial of four men accused of the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa. By alleging Osama bin Laden's leadership of said organization, it became possible to charge bin Laden in absentia with the crime using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act also known as the RICO statutes.<ref>"Relevant excerpt from the series", The Power of Nightmares</ref>

According to this theory, the name al-Qaeda was first provided to US prosecutors by Jamal al-Fadl, a Sudanese national and former employee of bin Laden, who after being caught stealing $110,000 from bin Laden, fled to the United States seeking protection from the U.S. Government.<ref>""WMD Terrorism and Usama bin Laden" by The Center for Nonproliferation Studies", The Power of Nightmares</ref>

However, bin Laden never denied the existence of Al Qaeda in the interview with Tayseer Alouni in October 2001:

Q: Al Qaeda is facing now a country that leads the world militarily, politically, technologically. Surely, the al Qaeda organization does not have the economic means that the United States has. How can al Qaeda defeat America militarily?

BIN LADEN: This battle is not between al Qaeda and the U.S. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders. In the past when al Qaeda fought with the mujahedeen, we were told, "Wow, can you defeat the Soviet Union?" The Soviet Union scared the whole world then. NATO used to tremble of fear of the Soviet Union. Where is that power now? We barely remember it. It broke down into many small states and Russia remained.

God, who provided us with his support and kept us steadfast until the Soviet Union was defeated, is able to provide us once more with his support to defeat America on the same land and with the same people. We believe that the defeat of America is possible, with the help of God, and is even easier for us, God permitting, than the defeat of the Soviet Union was before. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In April 2002, the group assumed the name Qa'edat al-Jihad (the base for Jihad). According to Diaa Rashwan (a senior researcher at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies), this was "apparently as a result of the merger of the overseas branch of Egypt's Al-Jihad group, led by Ayman El-Zawahri, with the groups Bin Laden brought under his control after his return to Afghanistan in the mid 1990s."<ref>"After Mombassa", Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 2-8 January 2003 (Issue No. 619). Retrieved 3 September 2006.</ref>

Peter L. Bergen, however, cites a document from 11 August 1988 establishing al Qaeda and referring to it as "the base." The document was the minutes of the first meeting establishing the organization: "This document outlines the discussion between bin Laden, referred to as 'the Sheikh,' and Abu Rida, or Mohamed Loay Bayazid, to discuss the formation of a 'new military group,' which would include 'al Qaeda (the base).'"<ref>Peter L. Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know (New York: Free Press, 2006) 28.</ref>

The United States Department of Defense defines the organization as

A radical Sunni Muslim umbrella organization established to recruit young Muslims into the Afghani Mujahideen and is aimed to establish Islamist states throughout the world, overthrow ‘un-Islamic regimes’, expel US soldiers and Western influence from the Gulf, and capture Jerusalem as a Muslim city.

This definition was given in response to a request made by Moazzam Begg, who was being held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camps. Mr. Begg was being accused of assisting or being a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.<ref name=ApCsrtMoazzamBegg>Moazzam Begg's dossier (.pdf) from his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, hosted by Associated Press</ref>

[edit] History

[edit] Jihad in Afghanistan

The origins of the group can be traced to a few weeks after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when a cadre of foreign Arab Mujahideen, financed by bin Laden and independent wealthy Muslim contributors, joined the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The U.S. viewed the conflict in Afghanistan as an integral Cold War struggle, and the CIA provided assistance to anti-Soviet forces through the Pakistani ISI. The U.S. took advantage of this militant group's ambitions and bred them to suit their needs. However, such support was limited to the indigenous Afghan mujahideen [1]. Bin Laden's organization channeled Arab mujahideen to the conflict, distributing money and providing logistical skills and resources to guerrillas as well as Afghan refugees.

Al-Qaeda evolved from the Maktab al-Khadamat (Office of Services, MAK) — a Mujahid organization fighting to establish an Islamic state during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden was a founding member of the MAK, along with Palestinian militant Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. The role of the MAK was to channel funds from a variety of sources (including donations from across the Middle East) into training mujahidin from around the world in guerrilla combat, and to transport the combatants to Afghanistan. The MAK was primarily funded by donations from wealthy Muslim individuals. During the latter half of the 1980s, the MAK was a relatively minor grouping in Afghanistan with no direct combatants; rather it limited its activities to fund raising, logistics, housing, education, refugee care, recruitment and the financing of other mujaheddin. During the war, the American and Pakistani intelligence services supported the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet occupation; MAK, while supportive of the indigenous mujahideen's cause, was a separate grouping made up of foreign Arabs.

After a protracted and costly war lasting nine years, the Soviet Union finally withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. Mohammed Najibullah's socialist Afghan government was rapidly overthrown by elements of the mujaheddin. With Mujaheddin leaders unable to agree on a structure for governance, chaos ensued with ever-changing control of ill-defined territories falling under constantly reorganizing alliances and schisms between regional warlords.

Due to U.S. efforts to undermine the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, some have speculated that it may have contributed to creation of the organization. Robin Cook Former Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons writing for the Guardian, spoke of Al Qaeda as an unintentional product of western interests.:

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. 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. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden's organization would turn its attention to the west[2].

However, Peter Bergen, a CNN journalist and adjunct professor who is known for conducting the first television interview with Osama bin Laden in 1997, refuted Cook's notion, stating on August 15, 2006, the following:

The story about bin Laden and the CIA -- that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden -- is simply a folk myth. There's no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn't have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn't have needed to. 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.[3]

It is more likely that the CIA was concerned and watching Osama bin Laden at least by early 1995 due to the discovery of the Oplan Bojinka plot which in part involved a suicide airplane attack on CIA Headquarters.

[edit] Expanding Operations

Toward the end of the Soviet military mission to Afghanistan, some Mujaheddin wanted to expand their operations to include Islamist struggles in other parts of the world, such as Israel 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 which was formed by Osama bin Laden in 1988. Bin Laden wished to exten to establish Ito nonmilitary operations in other parts of the world; Azzam, in contrast, wanted to remain focused on military campaigns. After Azzam was assassinated in 1989, the MAK split, with a significant number joining bin Laden's organization.

[edit] Gulf War and start of U.S. enmity

Following the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had put the Saudi Arabian ruling House of Saud at risk both from internal dissent and the perceived possibility of further Iraqi expansionism. In the face of seemingly massive Iraqi military presence, Saudi Arabia's own forces were well armed but outnumbered. Bin Laden offered the services of his Mujahideen to King Fahd to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iraqi army.

After some deliberation the Saudi Monarch refused bin Laden's offer and instead opted to allow United States and allied forces to deploy on his territory. Bin Laden considered this a treacherous deed. He believed that the presence of foreign troops in the "land of the two mosques" (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. After speaking publicly against the Saudi government for harboring American troops he was quickly forced into exile to Sudan and his Saudi citizenship was revoked.

Shortly afterwards, the movement that came to be known as al-Qaeda was formed.

[edit] Sudan

In 1991, Sudan's National Islamic Front, an Islamist group that had recently gained power, invited al-Qaeda to move operations to their country. For several years, al-Qaeda ran several businesses (including an import/export business, farms, and a construction firm) in what might be considered a period of financial consolidation. The group was responsible for the construction of a major 1200 km (845mi) highway connecting the capital Khartoum with Port Sudan. But they also ran a number of camps where they trained aspirants in the use of firearms and explosives.

In 1996, Osama bin Laden was asked to leave Sudan after the United States put the regime under extreme pressure to expel him, citing possible connections to the 1994 attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while his motorcade was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A controversy exists regarding whether Sudan offered to turn bin Laden over to the U.S. prior to the expulsion. There is an audio tape recording of former President Bill Clinton talking about the offer from the Sudanese government. Although there are tablish ing reports on whether the Sudanese government ever indeed made such an offer, but they were prepared to turn him over to Saudi Arabia who declined to take him.[citation needed]

Osama bin Laden finally left Sudan in a well planned and executed operation accompanied by some 200 of his supporters and their families traveling directly to Jalalabad, Afghanistan by air in late 1996.

[edit] Bosnia

The secession of Bosnia from the multicultural Yugoslavian Federation and the subsequent declaration of Bosnia-Herzegovinan independence in October 1991 opened up a new ethnic and quasi-religious conflict at the heart of Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was ethnically diverse, with a nominal Muslim majority but with significant numbers of ethnic (Orthodox Christian) Serbs and (Roman Catholic) Croats distributed across its territory. It comprised a large but militarily weak component of the former Yugoslavia, whose disintegration saw some ethnic Serbs and some ethnic Croats within Bosnia, supported by their rump adjacent states Serbia and Croatia, engage in a three-way conflict against the Bosniak-dominated core.

Radical Arab veterans of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan seized on Bosnia as a new opportunity to "defend Islam". Besieged on two fronts and seemingly abandoned by the West, the Bosnian regime was willing to accept any help it could get, military or financial, including that of a number of Islamic organisations, of which al-Qaeda was one.<ref name="Kohlmann">Kohlmann, Evan F. (2004). Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network. Berg. ISBN 1-85973-807-9.</ref>

Several close associates of Osama bin Laden (most notably, Saudi Khalid bin Udah bin Muhammad al-Harbi, alias Abu Sulaiman al-Makki) joined the conflict in Bosnia<ref name="Kohlmann" />, but while al-Qaeda might initially have seen Bosnia as a possible bridgehead enabling the radicalization of European Muslims for operations against other European nations and the United States, Bosniaks had been secularized for generations and their interest in fighting was largely limited to securing the survival of their nascent state.

The "Bosnian Mujahidin" (comprising largely Arab veterans of the Afghan war and not necessarily members of al-Qaeda) thus operated as a largely autonomous force within central Bosnia. While their bravery in the fray initially attracted a small number of native Bosnians to join them, their brutality and a rising number of atrocities committed against civilians came to appall many native Bosnians and repelled new recruits. At the same time, their vigorous attempts to Islamicize the local population with rules on appropriate dress and behavior were widely resented and largely went unheeded. In his book Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: the Afghan-Bosnian network, Evan Kohlmann sums up: ‘In spite of vigorous efforts to ‘Islamicise’ the nominally Muslim Bosnian populace, the locals could not be convinced to abandon pork, alcohoi, or public displays of affection. Bosnian women persistently refused to wear the hijab or follow the other mandates for female behavior prescribed by extreme fundamentalist Islam.’

The signing of the Washington Agreement in March 1994 brought to an end to the Bosnian-Croatian conflict. While the "Bosnian Mujahidin" remained to fight on in the war against the Serbs, the Dayton Peace Accord of November 1995 brought that conflict an end and required that foreign fighters disband and leave the country, with aid being conditional on this taking place. With Bosnian government support, NATO forces took effective action to close their bases and deport them. A limited number of former Mujahidin who had either married native Bosnians or who could not find a country to go to were permitted to stay in Bosnia and granted Bosnian citizenship, but with the war in Bosnia over, many committed battle-hardened veterans had already returned to familiar territory.

The Bosnian effort experiencing only limited success, al-Qaeda turned its resources towards its next phase of global expansion.

[edit] Refuge in Afghanistan

After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was effectively ungoverned for seven years and plagued by constant infighting between the former allies, the various Mujahidin groups and their leaders.

Throughout the 1990s a new force began to emerge. The origins of the Taliban (literally "students") lay in children of Afghanis, many of them orphaned by the war, and many of whom had been educated in the rapidly expanding network of Islamic schools (madrassas) either in Kandahar or in the refugee camps on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

According to Ahmad Rashid's well-regarded book Taliban, five leaders of the Taliban were graduates of a single madrassa, Darul Uloom Haqqania, Akora Khattak, near Peshawar which is situated in Pakistan but which was largely attended by Afghan refugees. This institution reflected Salafi beliefs in its teachings and much of its funding came from private donations from wealthy Arabs for which bin Laden provided conduit. A further four more leading figures (including the perceived Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahed) attended a similarly funded and influenced madrassa in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The ties between the Afghan Arabs and Taliban ran deep. Many of the Mujahidin who later joined the Taliban fought alongside Afghan warlord Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi's Harkat i Inqilabi grouping at the time of the Russian invasion. This grouping had also enjoyed the loyalty of most Afghan Arab fighters.

The continuing internecine strife between various factions and accompanying lawlessness following the Soviet withdrawal enabled the growing and well-disciplined Taliban to expand their control over territory in Afghanistan and they came to establish an enclave which it called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In 1994, they captured the regional centre of Kandahar and making rapid territorial gains thereafter, went on to conquer the capital, Kabul, in September 1996.

After Sudan made it clear bin Laden and his group were no longer welcome in that year, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan -- with previously established connections between the groups, a similar outlook on world affairs and largely isolated from American political influence and military power -- provided a perfect location for al Qaeda to headquarter.

Some 200 bin Laden supporters and their families departed Khartoum for Jalalabad by air in 1996. Thereafter al-Qaeda enjoyed the Taliban's protection and a measure of legitimacy as part of their Ministry of Defense, although only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border regions are alleged to have trained militant Muslims from around the world. Despite the perception of some people, al-Qaeda members are ethnically diverse and are connected by their radical version of Islam.

An ever-expanding network of supporters thus enjoyed a safe haven in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan until the Taliban were defeated by a combination of local forces and United States air power in 2001 (see section September 11 attacks and the United States response). Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders are still believed to be located in areas where the population is sympathetic to the Taliban in Afghanistan or the border Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

[edit] Start of militant operations against civilians

In 1993, al-Qaeda associate Ramzi Yousef used a car bomb to attack the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. The attack was largely ineffective, and Yusef was later captured in Pakistan, but it served to inspire Osama bin Laden to launch such an attack of his own.

The time had come in 1996 for al-Qaeda to begin its crusade to expel foreign troops and interests from what they felt were "Islamic lands". Bin Laden issued what amounted to a public declaration of war against the United States and any of its allies, and began to focus al-Qaeda's resources working towards threatening the United States and its interests. It would be two years before his first attack would be launched, but the die was cast.

On February 23, 1998, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, along with Sumedh Gawai and three other Islamist leaders co-signed and issued a fatwa (binding religious edict) under the banner of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders (al-Jabhah al-Islamiyya al-'Alamiyya li-Qital al-Yahud wal-Salibiyyin) declaring:

[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 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. 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'. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Neither bin Laden nor al-Zawahiri possessed the traditional Islamic scholarly qualifications to issue a fatwa of any kind; they, however, rejected the authority of the contemporary ulema (seen as the paid servants of jahiliyya rulers) and took it upon themselves.<ref>Benjamin, Daniel, Steven Simon (2002). “The Warrior Prince”, The Age of Sacred Terror. Random House, p. 117. “By issuing fatwas, bin Laden and his followers are ah ing out a kind of self-appointment as alim: they are asserting their rights as interpreters of Islamic law”</ref> 1998 was also the year of the first major terrorist attack reliably attributed to al-Qaeda: the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, which resulted in upward of 300 deaths. A barrage of missiles launched by the U.S. military in response devastated an al-Qaeda base in Khost, Afghanistan, but the network's capacity was unharmed. In 1999, Egyptian Islamic Jihad officially merged with al-Qaeda,[citation needed] and al-Zawahiri became bin Laden's closest cablidant, effectively assuming the position as second-in-command of al-Qaeda.[citation needed]

Bin Laden then turned his sights towards the United States Navy. In October 2000, al-Qaeda militants in Yemen suicide bombed the missile destroyer U.S.S. Cole, which was waiting off-shore, killing several sailors and damaging the vessel. Inspired by the success of such a brazen attack, al-Qaeda's command core began to prepare for an attack on the United States itself.

[edit] September 11 attacks and the United States response

Image:Apicofwtc.jpg
Al-Qaeda is best known for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The September 11, 2001 attacks were attributed by United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization authorities to al-Qaeda, ah ing in accord with the 1998 fatwa issued against the United States and its allies by bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and others.<ref>

  1. redirect Template:Cite web</ref>. Most evidence have been referred to be pointing towards hijacking/suicide squads lead by al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Atta as the ah ual culprits of the attacks, with bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Hamibali as the key planners. While messages believed to be from bin Laden after September 11,2001 have praised the attacks, a statement issued six days later through Al Jazeera allegedly denied his involvement.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The attacks became the most devastating in American history, with almost 3,000 people killed, the destruction of four commercial airliners, the collapse of both World Trade Center Towers, and the damaging of the The Pentagon.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the United States government decided to respond militarily and began to prepare its armed forces for an overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime's rule of Afghanistan since the Taliban were believed to have been harboring Osama bin Laden and Al-qaeda. Before the United States attacked, it offered Taliban leader Mullah Omar a chance to surrender bin Laden and his top associates. The Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden to a neutral country for trial if the United States would provide evidence of bin Laden's complicity in the attacks. U.S. President George W. Bush responded by saying "We know he's guilty. Turn him over"<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and soon thereafter the United States bombed Taliban and suspected al-Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and together with the Afghan Northern Alliance deposed the Taliban government.

Image:Canadian soldiers afghanistan.jpg
Canadian Troops in Afghanistan

As a result of the United States using its special forces and providing air support for the Northern Alliance ground forces, both Taliban and alleged al-Qaeda training camps were destroyed and much of the operating structure of al-Qaeda, believed to exist by the U.S. Government, was 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 region of the nation. Again, under the cover of intense aerial bombardment, U.S. infantry and local Afghan forces attacked, shattering the al-Qaeda position and killing or capturing many of the militants. By early 2002, al-Qaeda had been dealt a serious blow to its operational capacity, and the Afghan invasion appeared an initial success. Nevertheless, a significant Taliban insurgency remains in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda's top two leaders, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, evaded capture.

Debate raged about the exact nature of al-Qaeda's role in the 9/11 attacks, and after the U.S. invasion began, the U.S. State Department also released a videotape apparently showing bin Laden speaking with a small group of associates somewhere in Afghanistan shortly before the Taliban was removed from power.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Although its authenticity has been questioned by some, <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> the tape appears to implicate bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the September 11 attacks and was aired on many television channels all over the world, with an accompanying English translation provided by the United States Defense Department.

In September 2004, the U.S. government commission investigating the September 11 attacks officially concluded that the attacks were conceived and implemented by al-Qaeda operatives.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> 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."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

By the end of 2004, the United States government claimed that two-thirds of the top leaders of al-Qaeda from 2001 were, by then, in custody (including Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Saif al Islam el Masry, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri) or dead (including Mohammed Atef). Despite the capture or death of many senior al-Qaeda operatives, the U.S. government continues to warn that the organization is not yet defeated, and battles between U.S. forces and al-Qaeda-related groups continue.

See also: Responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks

[edit] Activity in Iraq

Image:Zarqawi001.jpg
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a well known figure in Iraq, was killed in a U.S. Airstrike on June 7, 2006 in an al-Qaeda Safehouse in Baquba, Iraq
See also: Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda

Osama bin Laden first took interest in Iraq when the country invaded Kuwait in 1990 (giving rise to concerns the secular, socialist Baathist government of Iraq might next set its sights on Saudi Arabia, homeland of bin Laden and of Islam itself). In a letter sent to King Fahd, he offered to send an army of Mujahideen to defend Saudi Arabia <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>.

During the Gulf War, the organization's interests became split between outrage with the intervention of the United Nations in the region and hatred of Saddam Hussein's secular government, as well as expression of concern for the suffering that Islamic people in Iraq were undergoing.

Al Qaeda was in contact with the Kurdish islamist group Ansar al-islam from its inception in 1999. Several afghan veterans, Arab as well as Kurd, entered the enclave controlled by Ansar al-Islam from Iran. Among these was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who left the Kurdish zone before the allied invasion in 2003.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, al-Qaeda took more formal interest in the region and is known to have been responsible for actively organizing and aiding local resistance to the occupying coalition forces and the emerging government. Al-Qaeda allied militants bombed both the local United Nations and Red Cross headquarters later that year. In 2004, the main al-Qaeda bases in Iraq, located in the town of Fallujah, were raided by U.S. forces besieging the city. Despite the loss of these key positions and many of its fighters, al-Qaeda continued to mount attacks across Iraq. During Iraq's elections in January 2005 al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for nine suicide blasts in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Many Iraqi attacks linked to the Sunni al-Qaeda were sectarian bombings of Shia civilians, who were apparently considered infidels.

The feared Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi formally merged his organization "Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad" with al-Qaeda on 17 October 2004, and the organization began to use the banners of "Al-Qaeda in Iraq". In the merger al-Zarqawi declared loyalty to Osama bin Laden. Al-Zarqawi was killed by U.S. air strikes on a safe house near Baqubah, Iraq on June 7, 2006. Before his death, it appears al-Zarqawi was trying to use Iraq as a launching pad for international terrorism, most notably dispatching suicide bombers to attack hotels in Amman, Jordan. It is unknown the extent of al-Zarqawi's relation to the larger al-Qaeda terrorist network though it appears the renaming of his insurgent cell was a move to boost legitimacy and recruitment rather than an ah ual sharing of goals, members, and weapons materiel.

Since the killing of al-Zarqawi, it is widely believed militant Abu Ayyub al-Masri took over as head of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Although the group has failed in its primary goal of driving U.S. and British forces from Iraq and destroying the Shiite-dominated government set up by the occupation, al-Qaeda in Iraq has effectively ignited widespread secterian violence across the country. Al-Qaeda in Iraq now operates primarily as part of the Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni militant groups in Iraq who resist soladirity with Shiites, and vow to continue bloody and brutal resistance.

On September 3, 2006 the second in command of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi (also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana) was arrested, north of Baghdad, along with a group of his aides and followers.<ref>[4] - Iraq No 2. leader arrested. USA Today, 3 September 2006</ref>

[edit] Al-Qaeda allegedly in Kashmir

On July 13, 2006, a man claiming to be a spokesperson for al-Qaeda called up a local news agency in Srinagar to announce the arrival of the group in Kashmir. The alleged al-Qaeda spokesman said the blasts were a "consequence of Indian oppression and suppression of minorities, particularly Muslims." There have been reports that al-Qaeda men had infiltrated into the Valley for the past few years, particularly after the US went after it in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks. Also, it has been said that links have been found between al-Qaeda and terror groups like LeT of Pakistan.<ref name="Al Qaeda in India"> Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Organization structure and membership

[edit] The chain of command

Though the current structure of al-Qaeda is unknown, information mostly acquired from Jamal al-Fadl provided American authorities with a rough picture of how the group was organized. While the veracity of the information provided by al-Fadl and the motivation for his cooperation are both disputed, American authorities base much of their current knowledge of al-Qaeda on his testimony.

Bin Laden is the emir and Senior Operations Chief of al-Qaeda (although originally this role may have been filled by Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi), advised by a shura council, which consists of senior al-Qaeda members, estimated by Western officials at about twenty to thirty people. Ayman al-Zawahiri is al-Qaeda's Deputy Operations Chief and Abu Ayyub al-Masri is possibly the Senior Leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

  • The Military committee is responsible for training, weapons acquisition, and planning attacks.
  • The Money/Business committee runs business operations. The travel office provides air tickets and false passports. The payroll office pays al-Qaeda members, and the Management office oversees money-making businesses. In the US 911 Commission Report it is estimated that al-Qaeda requires 30,000,000 USD / year to conduct its operation.
  • The Law committee reviews Islamic law and decides if particular courses of action cablorm to the law.
  • The Islamic study/fatwah committee issues religious edicts, such as an edict in 1998 telling Muslims to kill Americans.
  • In the late 1990s there was a publicly known Media committee, which ran the now-defunct newspaper Nashrat al Akhbar (Newscast) and handled public relations. It is currently assumed that media operations are now outsourced to internally redundant parts of the organization.

The number of individuals belonging to the organization is also unknown. According to the controversial BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, al-Qaeda is so weakly linked together that it is hard to say it exists apart from Osama 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 is cited by the documentary as a reason to doubt whether a widespread entity that meets the description of al-Qaeda exists at all. The extent and nature of al-Qaeda remains a topic of dispute. <ref>Gerges, Fawaz A (2005-09-05). The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-79140-5.</ref>

[edit] Political revolt or structured paramilitary organization: unknown

Some organizational specialists have said that al-Qaeda's network structure, as opposed to a hierarchical structure is its primary strength. The decentralized structure enables al-Qaeda to have a worldwide distributed base while retaining a relatively small core. While an estimated 100,000 Islamist militants are said to have received instruction in al-Qaeda camps since its inception, the group is believed to retain only a small number of militants under direct orders. Estimates seldom peg its manpower higher than 20,000 world wide.

For its most complex operations (such as the 9/11 attacks on the US) all participants, planning and funding are believed to have been directly provided by the core al-Qaeda organization. But in many attacks around the world where there appears to be an al-Qaeda connection, its precise role has been less easy to define. Rather than handling these operations from conception to delivery, al-Qaeda often appears to act as an international financial and logistical support-network, channeling income obtained from a network of fund-raising activities to provide training capital and coordination for local radical groups. In many cases it is these local groups, only loosely affiliated to core al-Qaeda, which ah ually undertake the attacks.

Image:Australian embassy bombing flag.jpg
The Australian flag continues to fly in front of a neighbouring building devastated in the 2004 Jakarta embassy bombing

Australian tourists and interests have been targeted in a series of devastating annual attacks north of Australia in the southern islands of Indonesia, on the southern edge of southeast Asia. These attacks and plots have been attributed to Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda's affiliate in the region. The 2002 Bali bombing, and subsequently the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, the 2004 Jakarta embassy bombing and the 2005 Bali bombings provide some insight into al-Qaeda's decentralized method of operations: the attacks showed far greater coordination and effectiveness than might historically have been expected from regional militant networks. But police investigations and subsequent trials showed that while al-Qaeda was believed to have provided expertise and coordination, much of the planning and all the personnel who undertook the attacks came from local radical Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda has been known to establish and foster new groups to further the radical Islamic interest in local cablish s. Indeed the Taliban might be deemed to fall into this category, the roots of the organization formed from radicalized students from the bin Laden funded medressas of the Afghan refugee camps at the time of the Russian occupation.

[edit] Al-Qaeda members who carried out suicide bombings, hijackings and other terrorist attacks

Other al-Qaeda leaders include:

[edit] Activities

[edit] Incidents attributed to al-Qaeda

Note: al-Qaeda does not take credit for most of the following actions, resulting in ambiguity over how many attacks the group has actually conducted. Following the U.S. declaration of the War on Terrorism in 2001, the U.S. government has striven to highlight any connections between other militant groups and al-Qaeda. Some prefer to attribute to al-Qaedaism actions that might not be directly planned by al-Qaeda as a military headquarters, but which are inspired by its tenets and strategies.

Image:TerroristAttacksAlQaeda 06.png
Many terrorist attacks have been attributed to al-Qaeda.

The first militant attack that al-Qaeda allegedly carried out consisted of three bombings at hotels where American troops were staying in Aden, Yemen, on December 29, 1992. A Yemeni and an Austrian tourist died in one bombing.

There are disputed claims that al-Qaeda operatives assisted in the shooting down of U.S. helicopters and the killing of U.S. servicemen in Somalia in 1993. (see: Battle of Mogadishu)

Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (though probably not an al-Qaeda member at the time), and Khalid Sheik Mohammed planned Operation Bojinka, a plot to destroy airplanes in mid-Pacific flight using explosives. An apartment fire in Manila, Philippines exposed the plan before it could be carried out. Yousef was arrested, but Mohammed evaded capture until 2003.

Al-Qaeda is often listed as a suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996: the bombing at a U.S. military facility in Riyadh in November 1995, which killed two people from India and five Americans, and the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, which killed American military personnel in Dhahran. However, these attacks are usually ascribed to Hizbullah.

Al-Qaeda is believed to have conducted the bombings in August 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing more than 200 people and injuring more than 5,000 others.

In December 1999 and into 2000, al-Qaeda planned attacks against U.S. and Israeli tourists visiting Jordan for millennial celebrations; however, Jordanian authorities thwarted the planned attacks and put 28 suspects on trial. Part of this plot included the planned bombing of the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, but this plot was foiled when bomber Ahmed Ressam was caught at the US-Canadian border with explosives in the trunk of his car. Al-Qaeda also planned to attack the USS The Sullivans on January 3, 2000, but the effort failed due to too much weight being put on the small boat meant to bombIthe ship.

Image:USS Cole damage.jpg
USS Cole after it was bombed

Despite the setback with the USS The Sullivans, al-Qaeda succeeded in bombing a U.S. warship in October 2000 with the USS Cole bombing. German police foiled a plot to destroy a cathedral in Strasbourg, France in December 2000. See: Strasbourg cathedral bombing plot

The most destructive act ascribed to al-Qaeda was the series of attacks in the United States on September 11th, 2001.

Several attacks and attempted attacks since September 11, 2001 have been attributed to al-Qaeda. The first of which was the Paris embassy attack plot, which was foiled. The second of which involved the attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid, who proclaimed himself a follower of Osama bin Laden, and who intended to destroy American Airlines Flight 63 and its passengers.

Other attacks ascribed to al-Qaeda and its affiliates:

Al-Qaeda has strong alliances with a number of other Islamic militant organizations including the Indonesian Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah. That group was responsible for the October 2002 Bali bombing, and the 2005 Bali bombings.

Image:Ac.madrid2.jpg
Scene from the Madrid Bombing

Although there have been no identified al-Qaeda attacks within the territory of the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks, attacks in the Middle East, Far East, Africa and Europe involving extensive casualties and turmoil have been attributed to organizations with affiliation to al-Qaeda. In the aftermath of several March 11, 2004 attacks on commuter trains in Madrid, a London newspaper reported receiving an email from a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, claiming responsibility and a videotape claiming responsibility was also found. The coincidence in timing of the attacks with elections in Spain inspired several politically-focused speculations on the real identity of the perpetrators, with many initially suspecting ETA. However the Interpol, the Spanish Government, police and judicial institutions agree that a fanatical Islamic cell is more likely to be the perpetrator. On April 3, 2004, in Leganes, Madrid, four Arab militants blew themselves up, killing one special assault police and wounding eleven.

It is also believed that al-Qaeda was involved in the 7 July 2005 London bombings, a series of attacks against mass transit in London which killed 52 people, not including the 4 suicide bombers (see Mohammad Sidique Khan).A statement from a previously unknown group, "The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe", claimed responsibility; however, the authenticity of the statement and the group's connection to al-Qaeda have not been independently verified. The suspected perpetrators have not been definitively linked to al-Qaeda, although the contents of a video tape made by one of the bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan prior to his death and subsequently sent to Al Jazeera gives strong credence to an al-Qaeda connection. However, as with the Madrid attacks, it leaves significant doubts and questions unresolved. An apparently unconnected group attempted to duplicate the attack later that month, but their bombs failed to detonate.

Al-Qaeda is suspected of being involved with the 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks in Egypt. On July 23, 2005, a series of suspected car bombs killed about 90 civilians and wounded over 150. The attack was the deadliest terrorist action in the history of Egypt.

Al-Qaeda is also suspected in the November 9, 2005 Amman, Jordan attacks in which three simultaneous bombings occurred at American owned hotels in Amman. The blast killed at least 57 people and injured 120 people. Most of the injured and killed were attending a wedding at the Radisson Hotel. The targeting of celebrating Muslim civilians cost al-Zarqawi (the man believed to have planned the attacks) greatly in Jordanian public opinion, and to a lesser extent in Arab public opinion as a whole.

[edit] Internet activities

In the wake of its evacuation from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and its successors have migrated online to escape detection in an atmosphere of increased international vigilance. As a result, the organization’s use of the Internet has grown more sophisticated, encompassing financing, recruitment, networking, mobilization, publicity, as well as information dissemination, gathering, and sharing. More than other paramilitary organizations, al-Qaeda has embraced the Web for these purposes. For example, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda movement in Iraq regularly releases short videos glorifying the activity of jihadist suicide bombers. In addition, both before and after Zarqawi's death the umbrella organization to which al-qaeda in Iraq belongs, the Mujahideen Shura Council has a regular presence on the web where pronouncements are given by one Murasel. This growing range of multimedia content includes guerrilla training clips, stills of victims about to be murdered, testimonials of suicide bombers, and epic-themed videos with high production values that romanticize participation in jihad through stylized portraits of mosques and stirring musical scores. A website associated with al-Qaeda, for example, posted a video of captured American contractor Nick Berg being decapitated in Iraq. Other decapitation videos and pictures, including those of Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il, and Daniel Pearl, were first posted onto jihadist websites.

With the rise of “locally rooted, globally inspired” terrorists, counter-terrorism experts are currently studying how al-Qaeda is using the Internet – through websites, chat rooms, discussion forums, instant messaging, and so on – to inspire a worldwide network of support. The July 7, 2005 bombers, some of whom were well integrated into their local cammunities, are an example of such “globally inspired” terrorists, and they reportedly used the Internet to plan and coordinate, but the Internet’s precise role in the process of radicalization is not thoroughly understood. A group called the Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe has claimed responsibility for these London attacks on a militant Islamist website – another popular use of the Internet by terrorists seeking publicity.

The publicity opportunities offered by the Internet have been particularly exploited by al-Qaeda. In December 2004, for example, bin Laden released an audio message by posting it directly to a website, rather than sending a copy to al Jazeera as he had done in the past. Some analysts speculated that he did this to be certain it would be available unedited, out of fear that his criticism of Saudi Arabia — which was much more vehement than usual in this speech, lasting over an hour — might be edited out by al Jazeera editors concerned about offending the Saudi royal family.

In the past, Alneda.cam and Jehad.net were perhaps the most significant of al-Qaeda websites. Alneda was initially taken down by an American, but the operators resisted by shifting the site to various servers and strategically changing content. The U.S. is currently attempting to extradite an information technology specialist, Babar Ahmad, from the UK, who is the creator of various English language al-Qaeda websites such as Azzam.cam<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Ahmad's extradition is opposed by various British Muslim organizations, such as the Muslim Association of Britain.

Finally, at a mid-2005 presentation for U.S. government terrorism analysts, Dennis Pluchinsky called the global jihadist movement “Web-directed,” and former CIA deputy director John E. McLaughlin has also said it is now primarily driven today by “ideology and the Internet.”

[edit] Financial activities

Financial activities of al-Qaeda have been a major preoccupation of the US government following the September 11, 2001 attacks, leading for example to the discovery of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's tax evasion, for which his wife, Lucía Hiriart de Pinochet, has been arrested in January 2006. It was also discovered by investigative reporter Denis Robert that funds from Osama bin Laden's Bahrain International Bank transited through illegal unpublished accounts of "clearing house" Clearstream, which has been qualified as a "bank of banks".

[edit] Israel

Despite bin Laden repeatedly referring to the Palestinian cause in his manifestos and interviews, some in the region villainize the organization for allegedly ignoring the Palestinian cause. There could be an endless list of reasons why al-Qaeda are seemingly inactive in the Palestinian territories; one theory is that al-Qaeda is unwilling to co-operate with the mainly Sh'ia groups such as Hezbollah who fund Palestine's feud against Israel. Another theory suggests that Palestinians don' wish to be stained further by the extremist ideology driving al-Qaeda followers, and prefer to conduct combat according to their own principles.

Al-Qaeda is suspected, however, to have planned and carried out two nearly simultaneous terror attacks against Israeli civilian targets in Mombasa, Kenya, on November 28, 2002. The one successful attack, a car-bombIplaced in a resort hotel popular among Israeli tourists, claimed the lives of 15 people. The hotel bombing occurred 20 minutes after a failed attack on an airplane, when a terrorist fired an SA-7 MANPAD against an Israeli airliner carrying 261 passengers, which was taking off from the airport. The rocket narrowly missed its target and landed in an empty field

[edit] Notes on naming

Al-Qaeda's name can also be transliterated as al-Qaida, al-Qa'ida, el-Qaida, or al Qaeda. In Arabic it is spelled القاعدة. Its Arabic pronunciation (IPA [ælˈqɑːʕɨdæ]) can be approximated as IPA [æl 'kɑː-idʌ], which for American English speakers could be spelled "el-kAW-ee-deh," with the emphasized "AW" and "ee" clearly separated. However, English speakers more commonly pronounce it in a manner influenced by its spelling - IPA /ɑɫ 'kaɪdɘ/ for American English, /ɑːɫ 'kaɪdɘ/ in British English. Listen to the US pronunciation (RealPlayer).

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes & references

<references/>

[edit] Further reading

[edit] Videos

[edit] External links

ar:قاعدة (منظمة)

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