Unlike other terrorist formations, the al-Qaeda group according to experts and analysts presents the largest security threat to America, its associates, and the overall global security. In the assessment of the Al Qaeda capabilities and strengths, a majority of the experts believe the leadership of the group is shifting its focus from the global Islamic terrorist threat as it was the situation on September 2001. Even though the governments of the United States and other allied countries have invested a lot of resources in the fighting of the Al Qaeda, the efforts have not been very successful since to date the group remains the most lethal terrorist group globally.
Origin of the Al Qaeda Group
The main founder of the Al Qaeda group is believed to be Osama Bin Laden who was born in 1957 in Saudi. Majority of the Saudis comprise the conservative Sunni Muslims, and it has been argued that Osama had militant Islamist ideologies while he was studying at the university King Abdul in Saudi Arabia. At the university he specialized in Islam under the mentorship of Muhammad Qutb, who was a major icon in the Sunni Movement of the Islamist also described as Muslim Brotherhood (Cronin, 2015). Another tutor of Bin Laden was DR AL –Azzam, a renowned leader in the Islamic Brotherhood. Some experts have described Azzam as one of the master planners of the holy Jihad war against the Soviet invasion of the Afghanistan in 1979-1989 and also the Al-Qaeda formation.
In December 1979, after the Soviet invasion, Bin Laden moved to Afghanistan to Join Azzam. Bin Laden is reported to have used his funds to claim himself as one of the donors to the Mujahedin of the Afghanistan as well as the Arab recruiter of the Islamic war volunteers. In 1984, Bin Laden and Azzam formulated network that would enable to raise funds and enhance their recruitment activities by establishing the fundraising organization and platforms in Europe, the entire Arab countries, and in U.S. Maktab al Khidamat was the name given to the network (Stern & Berger 2015). Some have described the Maktab organization as the sign of the Al-Qaeda group. Another core beneficiary of the Maktab Network establishment especially in the recruitment of the anti-Soviet jihad was Umar AbdiRahman. Rehman is the man behind the leadership of the radicalized Egyptian Islamist movement the Aljihad.
Bin Laden also took part in the anti-Soviet battle that took place in 1986 battle at Jalalabad and 1987 frontal assault by the Soviet armor foreign volunteers. According to Cronin (2015), during this war, Bin Laden got exposed to chemicals by the Soviet and thus was slightly injured during the war. Among the key members of the Mujahidin struggle movement was Bin Laden due to his wealth and the connections he had created as well as the ability to fund the movement.
When the Soviets got overpowered on the war, the majority of the fighters were willing to establish a Muslim government that could rule the whole of the Middle East. This made them conflict with the U.S. To fuel the conflict, Bin Laden came up with al-Qaeda which comprised of a database of all the people who were ready to fund attacks targeting the United States and some of the Middle East governments. However, operation by the United States Navy SEALS coded as Operation Neptune Spear, they managed to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. This was a big blow to the leadership and organization of Al-Qaeda.
The leaders of the al-Qaeda together with their affiliates have always held complex media campaigns and public relations since the 1990s in a series of audio records, video clips, and internet posting as well as the making of statements. Experts in terrorism analysis believe that these campaigns were choreographed to bring out psychological reactions and pass complex political messages to the global audience. Bin Laden and some of his assistant leaders have personally made their clear intention before the world about their agenda to harness the power of regional and international media for the glory of the Al Qaeda. The Al-Qaeda group has a dedicated media that focuses on reports that support the operation of the group (Habbard, 2014). Bin Laden always referred to his statements as some of the very important sources for anybody seeking to understand the political demands and the ideologies of the Al Qaeda.
Analysis of Bin laden statements for the past ten years before his death depicts him as a consistent strategic leader of an ideological movement capable of influencing certain political demands. The main strength of al-Qaeda is not founded on its global infrastructure but in it highly important and appealing ideology. To keep with its core mandate, the al-Qaeda prime aim is to incite and inspire the Islamist movements and all the Muslims globally to launch attacks on the nations perceived as Islam enemies.
Even though the majority of the Muslims do not support the al-Qaeda group, the terrorist group has constantly devised ways to initiate the worldwide jihad through taking advantage of the suffering and resentment in the Muslim countries and shifting it against the U.S and its allies. Their main aim is to stop the interference of the United States in the Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East. Considering the recruits and sympathy that the group has continued to acquire from the Islamist formations in Africa, Asia, Middle East and some other parts of the world, the Al-Qaeda ideological campaigns has culminated to a partial success. Although Osama and other leaders of the group have been arrested, scattered or killed, the organization has continued to survive still with its ideologies intact.
Although we agree that the Al-Qaeda is the most hunted and sort after terrorist group since the invention of history, the campaign of the holy war it has unleashed most probably will outlive its existence and the current generation of Islamist (Habbard, 2014). However, there is another Islamist group that has subscribed to the ideologies of the al-Qaeda. They have no affiliation and claim to practice on behalf of the group. Therefore, more research should be done on the impact of the Al-Qaida ideologies to terrorism as well as understand their tactics and strategies. The most effective way to destroy and weaken the group perhaps will be focusing on its ideologies.
Osama bin Laden was the most notable leader, commander, and the chief of the al-Qaeda operations before he was killed by the U.S forces on May 1, 2011. Before the death of Osama, AtiyaAbdRahman is alleged to have been his deputy. The main advisers of Bin Laden were drawn from the Shura council which according to the western officials comprised of 20-30 very senior al-Qaeda members. After May 11, the al-Qaeda deputy commander before the killing of Osama Ayman AL Zawahiri took over the overall leadership of the Al-Qaeda according to the statements made to newsrooms by them on June 16, 2011. However, Al-Qaeda is known to draw leaders from various parts of the world to serve in its high leadership capacity.
Training and Tactical Difference of the al-Qaeda
The actual number of individuals who have trained and acquired appropriate military training and capable of executing command is not known. The training camps of the al-Qaeda group according to the insider’s report are mainly located in Afghanistan. However, the main operation is normally designed and structured in Iraq. On the tactical level of the group, the various statements by the al-Qaeda main leaders have continued to demonstrate a level of differentiation regarding the methods they prefer using to put pressure on the Iraqi government and its coalition forces. Bin Laden from the beginning chooses the “Martyrdom operation” also known as Suicide attacks as the most convenient to disrupt the activities of the United States and other countries.
Politically, the Al-Qaeda group has encouraged all its sympathizers in Iraqi to cooperate with the socialist groups (Baathist) to enable it to achieve its political agenda. Bin laden also encouraged all the Muslims of Iraqi and non-Iraqi to cooperate in the opposing of the Iraqi government and other coalition forces were drawn from Iraq. Most of the Al-Qaeda related attacks entail suicide bombing or active mass shooting such as the Orlando shooting.
Major al-Qaeda attacks in the U.S
Bin Laden and the top leadership of the group believed the only way that they could restore the Islamic administrations back to command was to block the affairs of the U.S and its allies in the region. By late 1990s, the group had already spread becoming one the global threat to the United States national security. This is after they launched their attacks on September 11, 2001, and the foiled airport attack in 1999 at Los Angeles (Shay, 2017). They came into the limelight again on October 29, 2004, few days to the national election when Osama Bin Laden once again threatened on the possibility of attacking the United States. Other successful attacks include the August 7, 1998, U.S embassy bombing attacks in Africa where more than 200 people died and about 4000 people got injured. Moreover, there have been several more attacks in the U.S in which the al-Qaeda group has claimed responsibility.
The main funding of the terror group came from Bin Laden’s family. His families are billionaires and are the owners of the Bin Laden construction company. It is speculated that Osama had inherited billions of dollars from the company that were used to finance the activities of the group. Al-Qaeda also has a clandestine money making business, donations from its sympathizers as well as donations from the charitable organizations of Muslims that support its ideologies (Cronin, 2015). The United States move to block the funding of the Al-Qaeda has greatly affected its ability to obtain money.
Most of the al-Qaeda operations are usually secretive, and before an attack, they have always issued a warning in case their demands are not met. The subscription of its ideologies by majority of people globally especially the extremist Muslims have enabled it to thrive even after the death of its very able and dedicated leader. The al-Qaeda war cannot be worn by using bullets. What would be helpful is an approach to their ideologies to understand how effectively the terrorist group can be brought to an end.
Cronin, A. K. (2015). ISIS is not a terrorist group: Why counterterrorism won’t stop the latest jihadist threat. Foreign Aff., 94, 87.
Hubbard, B. (2014). The Franchising of Al Qaeda. New York Times, Sunday Review, 4.
Shay, S. (2017). The Globalization of Terror: the challenge of al-Qaida and the response of the international community. Routledge.
Stern, J., & Berger, J. M. (2015). ISIS: The state of terror. HarperCollins.
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