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A jihadist flag of uncertain origin

Al-Qaeda[1] (Arabic: القاعدة, al-qāʿidah, "the base"), is an armed Islamic group that was started between August 1988 and late 1989.[2]p75[3] It works as a network, as a stateless army,[4] and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad. Most of the world thinks it is a Takfiri and terrorist organization.[5][6]

Members of al-Qaeda have performed many acts of terrorism. Most of these have been done against the United States, and other liberal countries. Some of its most well-known attacks have been the September 11 attacks, the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the US Navy ship USS Cole in 2000. Al-Qaeda has done suicide attacks and simultaneous bombings of different targets.[7]

Among al-Qaeda's goals is for other countries to stop influencing Muslim countries, and for a new Islamic caliphate to be made. There have been reports that al-Qaeda believes that a ChristianJewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam,[8] (largely embodied in IsraelUnited States relations), and that the killing of bystanders and civilians is religiously justified in jihad.

There have been guesses that there are 500-1,000 operatives in Afghanistan and around 5,000 worldwide. However, there is no confirmation of this.


In June 2001, al-Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which had been associated with each other for many years, merged into 'Qaeda al-Jihad'.[9]

"...the members of Islamic Jihad and its guiding figure, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have provided the backbone of [al-Quaeda's] leadership. According to officials in the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Zawahiri has been responsible for much of the planning of the terrorist operations against the United States".[9]

Death of Osama Bin Laden and current leadership

Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri is the highest-ranking surviving member of al-Qaeda's leadership, after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Death of Abu Yahya al-Libi

Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike on 4 June 2012.[10] He ranked second to Ayman al-Zawahiri at the time. The strike was carried out in the northwest tribal area of Waziristan. The Pakistan Government has protested to the U.S. about the strike.[10]


  1. pronounced /ælˈkaɪdə/ al-KYE-də or how to say: /ælˈkeɪdə/ al-KAY-də; alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa'ida
  2. Bergen, Peter 2006. The Osama bin Laden I Know: an oral history of al Qaeda's leader. 2nd ed, New York: Free Press. ISBN 0743278925
  3. United States District Court, Southern District of New York (February 6, 2001). "Testimony of Jamal Ahmad Al-Fadl". United States v. Usama bin Laden. James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Retrieved 2008-09-03.[dead link]
  4. Gunaratna 2002, pp. 95–96. "Al-Qaeda's global network, as we know it today, was created while it was based in Khartoum, from December 1991 till May 1996. To coordinate its overt and covert operations as Al-Qaeda's ambitions and resources increased, it developed a decentralised, regional structure. [...] As a global multinational, Al-Qaeda makes its constituent nationalities and ethnic groups, of which there are several dozen, responsible for a particular geographic region. Although its modus operandi is cellular, familial relationships play a key role."
    See also:
    • Naím, Moisés (January/February 2003). "The five wars of globalization". Foreign Policy (134): 28–37.
  5. 1st paragraph, p. x, The dynamics of political crime, Jeffrey Ian Ross, SAGE, 2003, ISBN 0803970455.
  6. 2010 Amil Khan, The Long Struggle, p 88
  7. Wright, Lawrence (2006). The looming tower: Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11. New York: Knopf. ISBN 037541486X
  8. Fu'ad Husayn `Al-Zarqawi ... "The Second Generation of al-Qa’ida, Part Fourteen," Al-Quds al-Arabi, July 13, 2005
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lawrence Wright 2002. The New Yorker. The man behind Bin Laden
  10. 10.0 10.1 Al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al-Libi killed - US officials. BBC News Asia [1]

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