It is difficult to come across someone who hasn’t heard about them or is uninterested in what they are doing which includes things they have already done. Al-Qaeda literally meaning the ‘the base’, is a global militant Islamist organization found by Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam. It captured the attention of World Media with fall of the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the US on 9/11, 2001. I mean what better PR stunt could garner you such large scale publicity than blow up the tallest buildings in the world and piss off the biggest Superpower of the World! Without further ado, I drop right into the thick of action (Pun intended!). Here’s a list on most of the info covering Al-Qaeda you need to know.
Well as long as you don’t know the basics, there’s no point making this list. Al-Qaeda traces its origin back to an association of Arab warriors (mujahideen) formed to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the wee part of 1980s. bin Laden returned to Saudi (his native place) after the Soviet retreat in 1989 and offered to raise an Islamic army to fight Iraq, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. They apparently refused and our leader was opposed to the American involvement in the ensuing war. Long story short, bin Laden and his supporters set up their base in Afghanistan and ensued a string of terror attacks till August 1996 when bin Laden issued an open ‘Declaration of War’ against the US.
Al-Qaeda was not solely run by Osama bin Laden himself even prior to his death. He created the base as something that would stand for symbolic acts of terrorism rather than actual military campaigns, this though got complicated and messed up in the process. Osama was the most historically notable commander, Senior Operations Chief of Al-Qaeda until his assassination on May 1, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Al-Zawahiri a surgeon from an upper class family joined the Islamist Movement in the 1970s and served as bin Laden’s personal physician and adviser and was instrumental in his political evolution. He ultimately became bin Laden’s successor as the Commander according to an announcement by Al-Qaeda on June 16, 2011.
8. All that glitters is not Gold!
It seems that many terror attacks that allegedly are conducted by Al-Qaeda isn’t technically related to them (Surprised much?) In fact some people believe that the August 1998 bombings of American embassies n Kenya and Tanzania, though accredited to Al-Qaeda weren’t actually their doing. This was, according to sources the first incident that brought Al-Qaeda to the American attention. Apparently the US just needed face to launch an attack in the Middle East. Many of the prominent bombings in the recent years credited to Al-Qaeda like the ones in Bali, London, Madrid and Algeria, were actually carried out by terrorist groups that were linked to Al-Qaeda more in spirit than in substance. Al-Qaeda is more often than not happy to take credit for these various attacks. But the truth remains that these attacks only have philosophical motivation from Al-Qaeda. (Hey! they do need to maintain their reputation). Experts believe that Al-Qaeda actually comprises of a small core group that stands as an inspiration for many violent Islamic extremists.
Ever found your unrewarding desk job dreary and monotonous? Try them. Al-Qaeda does a lot of paperwork. And a lot means a lot! They file paperwork for each purchase no matter how trivial it may seem. This trait can be traced back to the economics degree of Osama bin Laden and his running of the most successful conglomerate of Sudan. bin Laden’s father owned the largest construction company in the entirety of Saudi-Arabia which later on went to become an enormous conglomerate. No wonder he must have internalized such habits right from his privileged childhood. Searches at former hide-outs and bases of Al-Qaeda has yielded receipts for soap, glue, macaroni and brooms! They track each cent they have spent and evidence suggests that they have receipts for every single purchase made. Never forget to ask for the bill. (Jaago grahak jaago!)
6. The enterprise that is Al-Qaeda
The structuring of Al-Qaeda is such that there is a distinct separation between the core leadership and the various action groups. This allows it to function as an enterprise without a home-country, that would sponsor its political and militaristic ventures or play host to its training camps or serve as its administrative headquarters. Al-Qaeda’s leadership is best described as a loosely organized network of cells, where it can recruit Arab Afghan veterans and radicals from right around the world. Thus Al-Qaeda differs significantly from traditional terror organizations in the sense, it isn’t defined by a single conflict or dependent on the sponsorship of a political state. Al-Qaeda also provides financial, logistical support and name recognition to various terror organizations across the globe.
Yep! They show remorse. It is bad PR if people actually find out that this great organization formed to uphold the Islamic values, kills off more Muslims than they would ever wish to be revealed. It is customary for Al-Qaeda to release celebratory videos after a successful attack, gloating over it and rubbing salt into the fresh wounds of intelligence agencies across the world. It is their way of showing that they have once more eluded capture and could still inflict terror into the hearts of millions. So, it is highly unusual when apologetic videos come up after certain attacks that they allegedly ‘regretted’. An instance of the same includes the bombing of a hospital near the Defense Ministry of Yemen that they attacked.
4. Online Magazines
It is a shrinking world alright! In a brilliant move by the Al-Qaeda millions can be reached through such online channels and influence people and their ideologies. Inspire is an online magazine that provides budding terrorists with practical to-do lessons in terrorism. It covers the basics including home-made bombs, causing panic in streets and creation of torturous devices. In fact, the original issue had columns penned by the great Leader bin Laden himself and other prominent personalities of the sort. Women need not feel left out either. Al-khaansa, an e-zine lines out feminist issues such as raising proper future terrorists.
Contrary to popular belief, Al-Qaeda isn’t sponsored by bin Laden’s personal fortune or network of businesses, which amounts to a large sum nevertheless. Though some of the financing of the group was done by bin Laden in the 1990s, with increase in sympathetic elements to the cause, his financial role might have remained minimal. It is a matter of interest to note that intelligence agencies have still not been able to figure out the financing structures of Al-Qaeda. Even post 9/11, high level policy makers were frustrated that they couldn’t find out the total income or the relative importance of any source in bin Laden’s revenue stream. Citing sources Al-Qaeda’s financial facilitators raise money from witting and unwitting donors, mosques, sympathetic imams and non governmental organizations such as charities. This money is distributed as soon as it is raised and evidence has been found of a central ‘bank’ or ‘war chest’ from which Al-Qaeda draws funds.
2. 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
Al-Qaeda hates these theories, but what’s out there is out there! According to some people, the 9/11 attack was staged by the US to justify the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provide reason for the United States and United Kingdom to wage a war, which they apparently had already wanted for some time. This was a means to further the geostrategic interests of the US. (Oil over there!) There are quite a few discrepancies that point to the same that has been taken up by sympathizers to 9/11 conspiracy theories. These theories though have been dismissed by the American Government as the product of Anti-Americanism.
1. Weakening Structure
Al-Qaeda hasn’t remained the same after the death of Osama bin Laden despite appointing Al-Zawahiri as Commanding Chief. Al-Qaeda’s financial and political structure has weakened considerably causing various splinters in the group even prior to Osama’s death. According to a statement by John Brennen, Obama’s Senior Adviser on Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security, Al-Qaeda had been seriously damaged and had to replace many of its top-tier leadership with less experienced and less capable individuals. Nonetheless he admits the terrorist group still remains the country’s top threat.