Origins of Al Qaeda Term Paper

Pages: 25 (7002 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Origins of Al Qaeda

The Origins of Al-Qaeda: The World View of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the leaders of Al-Qaeda."

Al-Qaeda and its leaders, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri are frequently popular world news subjects.

The world seems to want to be constantly aware of the goings on of these people and their organization. There is no secret to the desired need for this information. As most people know Al-Qaeda is a significant and ongoing threat to the world, with regard to terrorist activities and continued fundamentalist extremism with regard to jihad, or what these extremists see as a holy war against the rest of the world, but mostly the Western world. This work will begin with a short introduction to the threat that Al-Qaeda poses to the world. It will then move on to discuss the background of Osama Bin-Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the fundamentalist movements that inspired them. The work will then move on to discuss the world view of the leaders of Al-Qaeda, the stages of Al-Qaeda's operations and lastly discuss some options for dealing with the threat Al-Qaeda poses.

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In brief the threat that Al-Qaeda poses to the world is one that involves a worldwide network of militant extremists. The war in Afghanistan was largely brought about as an attempt to annihilate Al-Qaeda but it did only limited damage to the organization as a whole. There are estimates that there could be as many as 18,000 Al-Qaeda trained militants still operating today world wide, even after almost six years of operations against them and there seems to be no end to their ability to finance themselves indefinitely.

In the interim since September 11th the average count of attacks associated with Al-Qaeda is one about every three months, even though several have been thwarted by active counterintelligence attacks are still taking place and many have been significant in scope and severity.

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Al-Qaeda is clear still very much a threat to the modern world, but to some degree the organization's lasting effects will be the extremism that they preach and the manner in which they continue to gain followers in and out of the Islamic community all over the world. In fact according to Schanzer and Ross the scattered decentralized manner in which Al-Qaeda now operates is even more elusive than it was when they were an organized and centralized organization. Al-Qaeda, can now simply provide a small sum of money to any interested party who promises to attack in its name and they will be assured of an attempt at some act of terror. In short Al-Qaeda has become not only a prominent actor in terrorism but it can be seen as a grass roots umbrella organization for fighting the supposed holy war. This threat leaves life and property at risk, as well as the minds of millions who could find favor in their extremist ideologies. The threat is invasive and evasive, world wide and the technology as well as skill utilized by terrorists, including those affiliated with Al-Qaeda continues to increase, as does the technology they use to communicate and the many illegal ways in which they obtain funding and support. The Al-Qaeda of yesterday may be history, but the ideologies and the strengths of the organization are not. Osama Bin-Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri will continue to be seen by many as heroes of a cause for universal social and political reformation, and by others as fearsome examples of the way in which ideology can be twisted into something altogether different and create great chaos and harm in the world.

Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri History

Osama Bin-Laden

Many people seek to have a greater understanding of the people behind the movement, namely Osama Bin-Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri as a way of introduction into the ideology of the terrorist regime. To do so one must clearly understand the historical perspective of the lives of these two men. Bin-Laden's early life was rather mundane. He was born in 1957 in Saudi Arabia to a Yemeni father and a Syrian mother. His father was very successful in business and eventually became a billionaire. Bin-Laden's upbringing was one of a strict Islamist. He studied at Abdul Ariz University, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia earning a degree in Civil Engineering. The school also boasted a strong official and unofficial curriculum of Islamic politics. The university offered Bin-Laden his first introduction to the extremes of the political movements, and from this point he began to build a world view that developed into what it is today, a world view that will be better described later in the work. Bin-Laden is frequently noted by many factions of the extremist movements and even some moderate Muslims as a hero, and this is especially true of the Muslim youth in the Middle East and Africa.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, in the 1980's offered Bin-Laden one of his first opportunities to express and build a following for his ideology. Bin-Laden was a militant supporter of the Mujaheddin, Afghani holy warriors, the guerrilla resistance forces to the Soviet Union.

In 1986 Bin-Laden began to build training camps in Afghanistan to train soldiers to fight in the Afghanistan civil war, that followed Soviet occupation. "Increasing needs for documentation of members of his organisation led to the creation of Al Qaeda (the 'base')." The original design of the organization was a systematic identification tier that allowed a connectivity to people, specialties and resources, and it was in conjunction with the development of increasingly militant training camps.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Bin Laden was horrified at the increasing pro-Western stance of the Saudi government and he set about creating an anti-Saudi Arabian resistance movement. He was soon forced to leave the country for Pakistan and then went back to Afghanistan and after threats to his life travelled to Sudan in 1991. He was now in a very Islamist environment and was able to set up 'front' companies in Sudan masquerading as engineering companies but in effect raising money for his Al Qaeda group. He became involved in several terrorist operations in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as the 1997 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, USA.

His connections to the earlier bombing of the WTC, was made early on and he was on the international most wanted list. This coupled with his extremist views frequently caused his expulsion from regions and countries, and he became an even better rounded political player, first as a partner to the Sudanese government and then their enemy.

Talks were held with some elements in the Iranian government and members of Hizbullah. He put huge amounts of money into the Sudanese economy through his own business dealings and helped to turn Sudan into a pan-Islamic state. He also worked closely with exiled Egyptian Islamists in Sudan. Bin Laden and the Sudanese government were concerned about the situation in Somalia which descended into chaos in 1991 after the overthrow of a relatively stable military leader. He then flew 3,000 Arab fighters from Yemen to support militia groups in Somalia and also bought land for training groups in Somalia. Bin Laden fell foul of the new Sudanese government and was expelled from the country in 1996. However, he did revisit for business reasons.

His extremism even created an almost complete disconnect from his Saudi roots. As the Saudis made an attempt on his life and the government withdrew his citizenship. Even many members of his family denounced him. The Sudanese government had great international pressure to force Bin-Laden into exile which created an opportunity for Bin-Laden to relocate to Afghanistan at some time in 1997. In Afghanistan he had much more freedom to continue to expand on and build support for his extremist views, of hatred for the West, and especially for the U.S. "An umbrella framework - the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders - which Bin Laden set up in 1998 co-ordinates many groups across the world."

All along the road of Bin-Laden's many travels to teach and organize for his cause there were obstacles and one of the greatest was frequent attempts upon his life, which began to occur again after the formation of the Islamic Front, mentioned above. This fact not only did not deter him but is proof to many of his followers, in combination with his military involvement in many difficult causes, that he is in a sense untouchable. To his followers this is proof that he is a "chosen" leader that has a greater calling to lead them in a revolution against the westernization of Islam. Osama through stealth and wealth can evade any enemy and has for the most part simply faded into the backdrop of whatever location he is now within. He is protected by countless followers and frequently flees the scene just moments before the arrival of the "enemy." This skill and probably luck as well has given him the reputation… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Origins of Al Qaeda" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Origins of Al Qaeda.  (2007, July 31).  Retrieved October 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Origins of Al Qaeda."  31 July 2007.  Web.  21 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Origins of Al Qaeda."  July 31, 2007.  Accessed October 21, 2021.