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Al Qaida is a global militant that was founded by Osama bin laden between 1988 and 1989. It works as a network of multinational, Sunni Muslims, and stateless army.
Since its foundation, Al Qaida has continued to grow. It has been attacking both civilian and military. It has been conducting suicidal attacks and concurrent bombing to the identified targets. It is believed that Al Qaida was formed during soviet war at Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. The group has been conducting training operations to its members who pledge to be loyal to Osama bin Laden and its leaders.
The war in Afghanistan was between soviet-Afghan Marxists against afghan citizens of whom most of them were Islamic militant. U.S funded mujahedeen in order to fight afghan Marxist and Soviet Union. The war was called Holy war and many young people from Muslims joined mujahedeen in the name of protecting fellow Muslims (Benjamin & Simon, 2002).
In 1980, Osama financed the group to recruit more people with the aim of defeating Soviet Union. Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and this gave Osama bin Laden a chance to expand the group. He returned to Saudi Arabia, his home country, where he expounded the group and many young people were recruited.
These people went on with the fight with the bases of Al Qaida. He formed allies with influential people in the government and businesses for Al Qaida to gain public acceptance. He approached businessmen in Saudi Arabia, for funding, as well as fellow jihad who contributed a lot of money.
Saudi Arabia government also funded the group with $600 million per year. The group had enough funds to even recruit foreign people to join Al Qaida. Osama bin Laden was against the settlement of the U.S troops in Saudi Arabia, the origin of Muslims. In 1991, he was expelled from his home land because of conducting anti government activities (Abdel Bari, 2006).
Expansion of Al Qaida
Osama bin laden facilitated opening of recruiting offices in the U.S. at the refugee centre. Al Qaida spread in the U.S. and Omar Abdel was in charge of recruiting mujahedeen. Al Qaida spread from the service offices. The service offices organized for a stay at Peshawar near afghan border.
They facilitated construction of a training centre at the border ready for war in Afghanistan. Many camps were created in Afghanistan. When soviets withdrew, mujahedeen failed to agree on their governance. This led to constant fights leaving the country in distress. Mujahedeen expanded the organization to other countries, such as, Israel and Kashmir. More interrelated organizations were formed to continue with the fight to protect fellow Muslims. In 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait putting Saudi Arabia kingdom at risk.
Osama bin laden offered his mujahedeen to reinforce Saudi army for they were outnumbered by Iraq forces. Saudi Arabia sovereign turned down Osama’s offer and allowed U.S troops to protect Saudi Arabia territory. Osama was against this and was consequently forced out of Saudi Arabia (Abdel Bari, 2006).
Al Qaida in Sudan
Osama bin laden flew to Sudan where he was invited by Hassan al Turabi and he based Al Qaida there. He gained support also from colonel Omar al-Bashir who had committed himself to reordering the Muslims political standards. Osama established camps in Sudan where more people joined and were trained. He assisted the government of Sudan in business and established more enterprises. In 1993, Egyptians public opinion was against Osama bin Laden.
The Sudanese government attempted to surrender Osama to U.S troops for execution; 280 members were arrested and 6 were executed. Bin laden continued to assault Saudi Arabia government. The government banned him from being a citizen of Saudi Arabia and his family disowned him. Osama became an enemy also in Sudan and they were aiming at expelling him and surrender him to the U.S troops (Basile, 2004).
Al Qaida’s Attacks
After soviets withdrew, Afghanistan remained ungoverned for seven years. This led to constant wars between other groups and Al Qaida. Al Qaida was well trained and financed by Osama bin laden with an aim of fighting and defeating the west. Osama planned and aided attacks against U.S. In 1993, Al Qaida attacked two hawk helicopters.
Al Qaida was also involved in bombing of world trade center in 1993. In 1995, Al Qaida bombed a car that was used to train Saudi national guards. With rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, al Qaida gained its confidence to fight U.S and its citizens. Taliban was also used by Osama bin laden and it worked together with Al Qaida to defeat U.S. Al Qaida also worked with Egyptian Islamists jihad, which was headed by Ayman al-Zawahri who was second to Osama.
Al Qaida became the headquarters for international terrorism. Osama’s refuge in Afghanistan gave him a chance to take Al Qaida to the next level. In 1998, Al Qaida planned, aided and executed bombing of U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which left many people dead and others seriously injured. In 2000, Al Qaida led the U.S. Yemen strike that left U.S sailors dead (Basile, 2004).
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Al Qaida interest has been to eliminate Americans from Islamic lands and this led to public declaration of war against U.S. Al Qaida directed all its resources to fighting U.S since 1996. Their driving force is to kill Americans civilian, army and its allies for they saw them as a threat to Islamic religion and oppressors. To start with, Khobar towers was bombed in Saudi Arabia which left 19 Americans killed and 372 injured. They declared a war worldwide to kill and combat Americans and their crusaders (Benjamin & Simon, 2002).
Al Qaida has centralized decision making but executions are decentralized. The leaders are the ones who make decisions on what to do and plan attacks while the members are the ones that execute the plan. Due to the war against terrorism, groups that use Al Qaida brand have resulted in decentralization. Al Qaida is now believed to be divided into many small groups worldwide but they have their origin in Al Qaida.
These groups carry out their duties and operations just like original Al Qaida and the world looks at all of them as Al Qaida. These groups form integrated network that is powerful and with the same purpose in mind. The groups includes; Al Qaida in Saudi Arabia, Al Qaida in Iraq, Islamic jihad of Yemen, Libya Islamic fighting group, Al Shabaab in Somalia, East Islamic Movement in China and Islamic organization in Maghreb (Abdel Bari, 2006).
Osama bin Laden was the chief commander and operations chief of Al Qaida until his assassination in May 1, 2011 at Pakistan by U.S forces. Ayman al-zawahiri was his deputy but now he has assumed the role of the commander. Adnan Gushairi took the office of chief of operations in 2006. Senior members of Al Qaida had a role of advising the chief commander. The military committee is involved in training new members and organizing attacks.
There is a business committee that is involved in funding Al Qaida activities such as recruitment and acquiring of weapons. A committee of law decides whether proceedings follow the rules of sharia law. The Islamic study committee offers religious guidance such as telling Muslims to kill Americans. There is a committee called As-sahab that deals with media production of video and audio materials (Benjamin & Simon, 2002).
Al Qaida is believed to be in 40 countries and it has members who are well trained to execute its operations. In 2009 it was believed that many commanders had left Al Qaida and that it was weak and could not execute its operations. It was believed that only Osama and few associates existed in 2009. It is believed that since then it is a weak association with doubts whether it really exist (Bergen, 2006).
Al Qaida has two insurgent forces that are located in Iraq and Pakistan. Many were recruited during soviet-afghan war and were fully trained and equipped for war. They were mostly foreign mujahedeen from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Many are now located in Bosnia and Somalia for war while others live in America and are trained on elementary combat.
It is believed that 62% of Al Qaida members are university graduates. The financers are believed to be Osama bin laden as well as donations from supporters. The group was also involved in heroin trade to get finances. Al Qaida uses a strategy to provoke U.S government to enter Muslims countries. They then influence the public to resist the forces and involve many countries in to conflict, which will trigger the U.S to be involved in many countries.
Their involvement would lead U.S to using a lot of money in the activities thus affecting its economy. Al Qaida assumes that when the U.S economy is affected it will affect global economy leading to political instability; this would allow Al Qaida to spread worldwide and take control in many countries (Bergen, 2011).
Al Qaida developed during Islamic revival and Islamic movements. It was formed to restore Islamic states and ensure sharia was followed. Al Qaida came to be because of lack of adherence to sharia law.
Al Qaida argues that Islamic is not just a religion but also a way of life that dictates how people eat, talk, and lives. They believe most of the people are not Muslims as they claim and this give them courage to execute those who profess to be Muslims but they are not. This includes those leaders who profess to be Muslims but do not follow the sharia law (Bergen, 2011).
Al Qaida in Iraq
Al Qaida has been conducting activities in Iraq to trigger violence leaving the country devastated. The bombing of Shiite mosque in Iraq triggered a civil war. Al Qaida denied their participation in the bombing saying it was done by hypocrites who pretend to be Muslims. This triggered war between majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs. In 2003, Imam Ali mosque was bombed with the aim of provoking high profile religious leaders.
Other attacks of mosques in 2004, 2006 and 2007 provoked Shiites to declare war which led to a lot of deaths. In 2006, in the Al-Askari mosque bombing, 215 people were killed. In 2008, there was sectarian bombing that was said to be caused by Al Qaida that led to death of 42 people at Imam Husain shrine and 51 people at the bus stop (Coll, 2005).
The war against the west by Al Qaida declined to 75% in 2007 and to 50% in 2010 as Al Qaida moved attention to Somalia and Yemen. Al Qaida moved from Afghanistan-Pakistan border and they have concentrated on Somalia and Yemen. Their leaders are believed to be hiding in other tribal countries.
In Somalia, Al Qaida collaborates with Shahab group and they are actively recruiting children for suicidal bombing. Young people are trained and sent at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to fight Americans. Al Qaida and Yemen joined to form Al Qaida group in the Arabian Peninsula. Al Qaida is believed to be responsible for the 2009 bombing of northwest airline flight 253 (Bergen, 2001).
In 1998, Al Qaida prepared to attack USA by training staff to seize aircraft. This was reported by the director of central intelligence to the president. On September 11, 2001 Al Qaida attacked U.S in a bomb that killed 3000 civilians. Al Qaida has carried out six major terrorism attacks. The group is known to arrange its attack in advance by training the personnel and transporting weapons. They use their businesses to make all the necessary arrangements and false identities to its members (Esposito, 2002).
Basile, M. (2004). “Going to the Source: Why Al Qaeda’s Financial Network Is Likely to Withstand the Current War on Terrorist Financing”. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism doi:10.1080/10576100490438237.
Benjamin, D., & Simon, S. (2002). The Age of Sacred Terror. New York: Random House.
Coll, E. (2005). Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2nd Ed.). New York: Penguin Books.
Esposito, J. (2002). Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lawrence, B. (2005). Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden. London. Macmillan