Al-Qaeda

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Workers search for survivors in the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City, September 20, 2011.

Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda issued a statement in 1998 that it is their duty as holy warriors to kill all U.S. citizens.

Al-Qaeda (sometimes spelled al-Qaida), Arabic for “the Base,” is a terrorist group founded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s to unite Arabs who fought against the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. Bin Laden, son of a billionaire Saudi family, is reported to have inherited approximately $300 million that he uses to finance the terrorist group.

Al-Qaeda may have several hundred to several thousand members in a loosely organized network of cells throughout the world. The terrorist group also serves as a kind of conduit for a worldwide network that includes many Sunni Islamic extremist groups such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Gama’at al-islamiyya, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin. Al-Qaeda also maintains moneymaking front organizations, solicits donations from like-minded supporters, and illicitly siphons funds from donations to legitimate Muslim charities. Although al-Qaeda was organized by Osama bin Laden, he was not its only leader. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon from an upper-class family, is the group’s theological leader and bin Laden’s most likely successor.

Conspiracy theorists fear that the great terrorist acts of our time were openly planned in radical mosques in Hamburg, London, and Paris, offering Muslims the opportunity to become mujahideen (holy warriors) in a jihad (holy war) in which they might achieve holy martyrdom. According to many conspiracy researchers, the shadowy figures of the New World Order and a number of secret societies are behind it all, fanning the flames of planetary conflagration.

In February 1998 al-Qaeda issued a statement entitled “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders,” declaring that it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens—civilian or military—and their allies everywhere. Some of the terrible acts of death and destruction sown by al-Qaeda are the following:

1992: Conducted three bombings that hit U.S. troops in Aden, Yemen.

1993: Al-Qaeda-trained Somalian tribesmen conducted ambushes of U.S. peacekeeping forces in Somalia. Downed two helicopters in Mogadishu and killed fifteen U.S. Army Rangers.

1994: Plotted to blow up the Israeli embassy in Washington. Planned to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Manila. Attempted to arrange the simultaneous bombings of U.S. and Israeli embassies in Manila and other Asian capitals.

1995: Planned to assassinate President Bill Clinton when he visited the Philippines. Bombed a military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, housing U.S. troops, killing five Americans and wounding forty-two.

1996: Truck-bombed a U.S. military complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing nineteen U.S. airmen and wounding 515 people, including 240 Americans.

1998: Bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing at least 301 persons and injuring more than five thousand others. Attempted to bomb the U.S. embassy in Kampala, Uganda.

2000: Bombed the USS Cole while the ship was in port in Yemen, killing seventeen and injuring thirty-nine others.

2001: Crashed hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly three thousand and igniting a new war on terrorism.

Al-Qaeda’s long-term agenda is to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate (a kalifah is a great Islamic kingdom ruled by a caliph, following no laws outside of the Qur’an) throughout the world by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it judges “non-Islamic” and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries.

After 9/11 the Bush administration tried desperately to establish links between Iraq and al-Qaeda in order to add another justification, besides Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, for declaring war against Iraq. In late 2001 Vice President Dick Cheney said it was “pretty well confirmed” that in April 2000 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the 9/11 mastermind, Mohamed Atta, met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official. In his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, President Bush told the cheering troops that the liberation of Iraq would be crucial in the war on terror because they had “removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding.” Cheney also claimed the acquisition of Iraqi intelligence files that connected Iraq to al-Qaeda, the September 11 attacks, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in a relationship that went back to the beginning of the 1990s.

Despite such repeated assertions of a link between Saddam Hussein and Iraq and Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, subsequent FBI and CIA investigations found no direct relationship between the two, other than a possible agreement, spoken or understood, to keep out of each other’s way.

Al-Qaeda’s movements, plots, and attacks are greatly facilitated by the Internet. No matter how separated individual terrorists may be from any central authority or command, they need only go online to find out what their leaders are thinking and what they want done next. Muslim faithful need only listen to their radio or television to hear coded al-Qaeda threats, vows, and pronouncements that tell them when to act.