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al Qaeda. a case study in ideological terrorism. BIG IDEA. al-Qaeda is the single greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. al-Qaeda covers the spectrum of types of terrorism Ideological State-sponsored Narco terrorism National liberation. BIG IDEA.

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al qaeda

al Qaeda

a case study in ideological terrorism

big idea
  • al-Qaeda is the single greatest terrorist threat to the U.S.
  • al-Qaeda covers the spectrum of types of terrorism
    • Ideological
    • State-sponsored
    • Narco terrorism
    • National liberation
big idea3
  • al-Qaeda is especially threatening to the U.S. because it has become stateless
    • Without a country to attack
    • Without a central location
    • Loosely-knit group - bound by an idea


al qaeda ideological overview
al-Qaeda: Ideological Overview
  • ISLaM = submission to God
  • MuSLiM = one who submits to God
  • SaLaaM = peace
  • If you submit to God, you will achieve peace
  • Somebelieve they must fight those that disrupt peace
you say al qaeda i say al qaida
You Say al-Qaeda, I Say al-Qaida
  • al-Qaeda = “the base”
  • al-Qaeda-al-Jihad = “the base of the jihad”
  • The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders

jihad = "holy war"

al qaeda ideological overview6
al-Qaeda: Ideological Overview
  • Multinational, militant Islamist org.
  • established by Osama bin Laden in 1988
  • Current goal: to work with allied Islamist groups to overthrow corrupt regimes and evict Westernersand non-Muslims from Muslim countries in order to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate
al qaeda ideological overview7
al-Qaeda: Ideological Overview

Goals and Objectives of Jihad

  • Establishing the rule of God on earth
  • Attaining martyrdom in the cause of God
  • Purification of the ranks of Islam from the elements of depravity

7th Century

al qaeda ideological overview8

9/11/01 - attacks on America result in war in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s bases and overthrow the Taliban

al-Qaeda: Ideological Overview
  • February, 1998 - issued a fatwa, calling on Muslims to kill U.S. citizens - civilian/military - and their allies everywhere
age old ideology
Age-old Ideology
  • al-Qaeda’s ideology not new - justifications for jihad rooted in the Qur’an
  • Inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood
  • al-Qaeda = most recent manifestation


origins of al qaeda
Origins of al-Qaeda

1980s: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

  • inspire “mujahideen” to fight the jihad
  • gather from all over to fight USSR b/c disrupting peace in Afghanistan
  • young + religious
  • fight “godless” communists
  • defeat of communists + collapse of USSR
  • OBL = rising leader, parts ways
chronology snowball effect
Chronology: Snowball Effect

1988: OBL forms al-Q, looks for new jihads

1990: offers al-Q to defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam in Kuwait, rejected for U.S.

U.S. presence in S.A. = MUST FIGHT U.S.

al azma = the crisis

chronology snowball effect13
Chronology: Snowball Effect

1991: OBL kicked out of S.A. - to Sudan

  • al-Q’s base of operations 1991-1996
  • Teams up with Ayman al-Zawahiri
  • Idea = evict U.S. from M.E.
  • Search for nukes?
  • Organize attacks
chronology snowball effect14
Chronology: Snowball Effect

Feb. 1993: WTC bombed, 6 die, 1000+ injured

Oct. 1993: Black Hawk down in Somalia, trained by al-Q, 18 servicemen dead

Uncle Khalid


chronology snowball effect15
Chronology: Snowball Effect

May 1996: OBL forced to leave Sudan

Afghanistan - new base of operations

June 1996: U.S. military base

in S.A. bombed,

19 servicemen


chronology snowball effect16
Chronology: Snowball Effect

Feb. 1998: OBL issues “fatwa” - kill U.S.

Aug. 1998: embassy bombings in Kenya, Tanzania, 220+ people killed, U.S. retaliates



chronology snowball effect17
Chronology: Snowball Effect

Oct. 2000: USS Cole attacked, killing 17

Sept. 2001: Worst Day Ever, R.I.P. 3000+

al-Q’s climax

  • U.S. retaliated
  • Disrupted al-Q


tactics strategies and targets
Tactics, Strategies, and Targets

Tactics: assassination, bombing, hijacking, kidnapping, suicide attacks, etc.

Strategies: developing surrogates, alliances, seeking WMDs

Targets: prominent symbols of U.S. wealth and military dominance

ideologically justified killing
Ideologically Justified Killing?

“The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of 9/11 in the U.S., which resulted in massive killing, destruction & attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies & sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human & Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam, which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: ‘No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another’ (Surah al-Isra 17:15).”

ideological debate
Ideological Debate
  • Salafi = “proper” religious adherence to strict moral code of Prophet Mohammed
    • Implied other understandings are corrupt
    • Most believe in non-violent means of supporting Islam
    • Small radical fringe - violent means
ideological debate21
Ideological Debate

al-Qaeda: “America started the war…”

  • Supporters of non-violent response to U.S. are corrupt, and thus not credible
  • U.S. waging war against Islam, therefore “defensive jihad”
  • Killing civilians allowed in current climate
ideological debate22
Ideological Debate

Justified Jihad?

  • Offensive jihad - not widely accepted
  • Defensive jihad - religious duty, just cause par excellance

Post 9/11

  • al-Qaeda losing the ideological debate
  • Attacks on WTC seen as offensive by Muslim community
ideological debate23
Ideological Debate

Post U.S. invasion of Iraq:

  • Confluence of opinion
  • Mainstream Islamic scholars, al-Qaeda united in call for defensive jihad
  • Iraq = chaotic, breeding ground for terror
  • al-Qaeda + Hezbollah

al Zarqawi

u s response
U.S. Response
  • Has largely been a “police” operation
  • Capture and detain terrorists, rather than going after the source of terrorism
    • Ideology??
  • Are we giving OBL credibility?
  • Will catching OBL make a difference?
big idea25

The U.S. response has recently come under question (CIA, Michael Scheuer) for supposed mistakes in the War on Terror.

More and more, invading Iraq seems to be

pouring gas on the flames.