Dreaded terrorist network called Al-Qaeda

Create: 05/27/2015 - 09:53

KABUL (Pajhwok): Al-Qaeda -- an Arabic word meaning the base or foundation -- is a global insurgent organisation founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzamand several other leaders in late 1988. Its origins are traced to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Composed of a multinational, stateless armyand extremist Salafi jihadist groups, the network identifies its core objectives as combating outside interference in the Muslim world and promoting Islam across the globe.
It has been declared a terrorist outfit by the United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the European Union, the United States, Russia, Indiaand some other countries.
Osama bin Laden was assassinated by US troops, after a decade-long hunt, inside a compound in Pakistan’s northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad on May 1, 2011. A team of American Navy SEALs -- acting under President Obama's direct orders -- conducted the covert operation under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command and working with the CIA.
Since the death of bin Laden, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri has headed the network, which is responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims. Its leaders view liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretics and have attacked their mosques and gatherings.
The group has been able to conduct spectacular assaults on civilian and military targets in different countries, including the September 11 attacks in New York, the 1998 US embassy bombings and the 2002 Bali bomb attacks. The 9/11 attacks brought the US to Afghanistan, where the war on terror was launched.
Afghan mujahidin, funded by CIA and trained by ISI, crossed the Durand Line to fight Soviet forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in 1985. The Al-Qaeda origins can be traced to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
A growing number of Arabs joined the jihad against the Afghan regime, facilitated by international Muslim organisations, particularly the Maktab al-Khidamat, which was funded by the Saudi government as well as Saudi businessmen, who were approached by bin Laden. Together, these sources donated some $600 million a year to jihad.
In 1984, bin Laden founded in Peshawar Maktab Al-Khidamat to raise funds and recruit foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a Palestinian scholar and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, gave the Al-Qaeda leader a helping hand.
Bin Laden became a "major financier" of the mujahidin, spending his own money and drawing on his connections with the Saudi royal family and the petro-billionaires of the Gulf to influence public opinion about the war and raise funds.
In 2000, the Egyptian Islamist Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, was merged with the groups Bin Laden brought under his control after his return to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Zawahiri was thus appointed as trusted lieutenant of bin Laden.
The group’s management philosophy is centralisation of decision-making and decentralisation of execution.Bin Laden was advised by a Shura, which consisted of senior Al-Qaeda members, numbering 20 to 30. The Military Committee of the outfit is responsible for training operatives, acquiring weapons and planning attacks.
Experts say the Business Committee funds recruitment and training of operatives through the hawala system. Despite international efforts to eradicate sources of terrorist financing, Al-Qaeda continues to operate through unregulated banks, such as hawaladars in Pakistan, some of which can handle deals of up to $10 million.
Similarly, the Law Committee reviews Sharia law, with Islamic Study/Fatwah Committee issuing edicts, such as the 1998 fatwa that urged Muslims to kill Americans. Al-Qaeda set up the Al-Sahabmedia production house in 2005 to supply its video and audio materials.
At the strategic level, the organisation seeks to provoke the US into invading a Muslim country by staging a massive attack or string of attacks on American soil that results in civilian casualties. It also tries to incite local resistance to occupying forces, expand the conflict to neighbouring countriesand engage the US and its allies in a long war of attrition.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime assigned Al-Qaeda with training Brigade 055, an elite part of the regime’s army from 1997–2001. The Brigade mostly involved foreign fighters, many veterans from the Soviet invasion and all under the same ideology of jihad.
By early 2002, Al-Qaeda suffered a serious blow to its operational capacity, and the Afghan invasion appeared an initial success. Nevertheless, a significant Taliban insurgency remains and Al-Qaeda's top leaders Al-Zawahiri has so far managed to evade capture. Most recruits and mid-level commanders of the group are currently hiding in Waziristan.