Al Qaeda. By Minhae Park. Who/What is Al-Qaeda.
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By Minhae Park
Al Qaeda is one of the world’s most wanted terrorist group. Meaning ‘base’ in Arabic, this group was founded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980’s. bin Laden and Palestinian religious scholar Abdullah Azzam recruited, trained, and financed thousands of foreign ‘holy warriors’ from more than fifty countries. He wanted them to go to war with non-Muslims who were living in the Muslim holy places. Like this, Al Qaeda was formed. After bin Laden’s death, Egyptian Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri was elected as leader.
Goals: Al Qaeda believes that Islam should be the supreme religion. They want countries that don’t follow Islamic laws to be overthrown, and that all foreign troops in Saudi Arabia should leave. The group also believes that Israel shouldn’t exist, and that it’s the duty of Muslims to kill all U.S citizens.
No one knows the size of Al-Qaeda because it’s so secretive. Experts from the Council on Foreign Relations estimate between several hundred to several thousands. Timothy Noah (reporter from the Slate News) said that of 2009, there were only 200~300 members.The small
number has helped keep Al-Qaeda hard to find and catch.
Osama bin Laden
Birth date: March 10, 1957
Death: May 2, 2011
Born: Saudi Arabia (exiled in 1994)
Bin Laden was born from a billionaire father and 17th out of his 50 siblings. After his father died, his mother married another man, and he lived with them. Due to his fortune, he went to an elite school. He went to university where he was remembered to be very enthusiastic about religious debates and activities.
Influences: Bin Laden was greatly influenced by an Al Thagher (part of the Muslim Brotherhood, though violence was necessary to get Islamic government) teacher who taught extra-curricular Islam lessons.
Ayman Al Zawahiri
Birth date: June 19, 1951
Al-Zawahiri's family was connected to the Al Azhar University (which was one of the most important religious institutions in the Islamic world). His family was religious but not outrageously so. He lived in a upper middle class neighbourhood, but lived modestly. In 1979, al-Zawahiri created the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, wanting to overthrow the Egyptian government (later assassinated the president).
Influences: He was raised in an era where Islam was considered a political system.
Al-Zawahiri is the leader of Al Qaeda, but Al Qaeda has several branches. Each branch has an appointed leader. Not only that, but there are specialists in a certain area (ex: chemist, military specialists, etc…).
It’s estimated that Al-Qaeda has bases in 100 countries, such as in the: UK, US, Italy, France, and others. They often are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda also has several branches. This allows them to operate even if one base is severally attacked.
Osama bin Laden’s fortune supplies Al Qaeda with its needs. Not only that, but the organization also asks for donations, and illegally takes funds from Muslim charitable organizations. Not only that, but when you have to join Al Qaeda, you need to pay a certain amount.
I think Al Qaeda is a thinker and a risk taker. They are thinkers because they think of the attacks they will do, how to keep hidden, how to earn money, and many more that keeps their organization working and hidden. They are also risk takers because they aren’t afraid of dieing if it comes to completing their goals and visions.
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Aftermath of al Qaeda's bombing attack using a woman with Down's Syndrome. Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/02/al_qaeda_in_iraq_use.php