CHAPTER 1: A brief history
CHAPTER 2 : Al Qaeda’s leadership
CHAPTER 3: Al Qaeda’s objectives and strategies
CHAPTER 4: financial and logistical strength
CHAPTER 5: Implications for Australia and risk analysis
CHAPTER 1: A brief history
The controversy surrounding the definition of terrorism has led to minimalistic approaches to the issue thus reducing a clear- cut understanding of what terrorism entails. The fact that the practice is fuelled by emotional and political motivation makes it even more difficult for scholars to come to a common ground on what really constitutes terrorism if at all a definition cannot surmise. However, the studies in terrorism activities have given better insight than all politically self serving semantic propaganda that everyone uses to justify or condemn terrorism. A close analysis of a terrorist group in an existing socio political and economic context is the only valid method to help us understand what terrorism is and all the other germane issues that surround the controversial subject. For this purpose, I have selected the most well known terrorist group in the world al- Qaeda as a case study to try and understand the fundamental issues that make it the most feared group and what qualifies it as a terrorist group in the first place.
The al- Qaeda is a militant group was reportedly formed tentatively around August 1988 in Afghanistan and Pakistani during the war against the soviets in the throes of the cold war. The key masterminds who allegedly attended the meeting included its current head Osama Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Dr Fadl in Peshawar, Pakistan who brought with them military experience gained from American training and enormous wealth(Wander, 2008). Other reports claim it developed from the Maktab al- Khadamat (Office of Services, MAK) which Osama Bin Laden was the founder and with the assistance of Palestinian militant Abdullah Yusuf Azzam and financial good will especially from Middle East nations, the two started training the mujahidin fighters in guerilla warfare and then transferring them to fight against the soviets in Afghanistan.
Their funds mostly came from Pakistan and Saudi government though the American government which was keen to defeat the soviets to the frontier indirectly aided them, (al- jazeera, 1999). After their doomed military campaign, the soviets withdrew and the mujahidin slowly descended into anarchy. Most of them were eager to expand beyond the country and the idea of al Qaeda slowly become a reality outside Afghanistan under the leadership of bin laden who returned to his native land of Saudi Arabia.
During the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, bin laden tried to offer the services of his mujahidin to protect Saudi Arabia against any attacks but the refusal of the monarch to this request and their dalliance with the Americans marked a turning point for bin laden. Soon after, he was forced into exile due to his opposition of foreign troops on sacred land and he fled to Sudan. In that simple act, al Qaeda started its journey into fundamentalism and an international platform on the clarion call for a total break from foreign influences and radical Muslim ideologies, (Allen, 2009). In Sudan, bin laden set out an elaborate business set up to consolidate his wealth which he would later use to aid his activities all over the world. He also began synching with terrorist groups all over mid eastern countries and by the time he was expelled in 1996, he already had a strong base of fighters which had already carried out minor operations in on different western interests,(Moyers, 2011). In 1998 Osama bin Laden and Ayman al- Zawahiri of Egyptian Islamic Jihad issued a fatwa under the banner of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders and were quoted to have implored their followers to kill Americans and their allies, civilians, and military as it was the duty of every Muslim to do so. Since then, the operations of al Qaeda have spread all over the world especially on civilians culminating in the September 2001 attacks on America where hundreds died, (Khalid, 2005). Though the fight against the group and its leaders has intensified, the proliferation of terrorist cells and groups aligned to it is still a worrying trend and all countries who are allies to America have now joined the long list of potential targets. This can be probably be explained by the complex aspect of decentralization strategy where groups with only a weak or tenuous link to al Qaeda hierarchy are now tapping on Bin Laden’s “franchise” to gain popularity while they might not even share his ideologies as (Elkus, 2007) posits in his analysis on the war on terror.
CHAPTER 2 : Al Qaeda’s leadership
After the death of Fazam, Osama bin laden took the overall leadership of the organization and is referred to as the emir or the commander of al- Qaeda. He is advised by close confidants referred to as the shura council consisting of top al- Qaeda members. Ayman al- Zawahiri is the operations deputy of the group having merged his Egyptian Islamic Jihad into the larger organization. Though he is claimed to have been killed in a raid on his safe houses, the reports are not confirmed. The information on the rest of the command structure and their specific titles and roles is scanty though the top leaders are commonly known. However, the organization borrows heavily from radical religious leaders and Islamic militants who have not even gone through the ranks to suit its purpose when need arises. A good example is Khalid Sheik Mohammed the mastermind of the 2011 attacks on America who was basically recruited for his experience and sense of purpose. There are also different committees within its leadership structure such as the military, law, Islamic studies and a media committee all geared towards maintaining its relevance and propel its growth even further. Other than the central command centre in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the organization has a large network of commanders and field operators skilled in military training in over 40 countries,(Robert M, 2006). Some scholars and even journalists have refuted these solid structures claiming that al- Qaeda is not exactly an organization but an idea or approach that different terrorist groups use to vent their anger against western powers as observed in the BBC documentary the power of nightmares. Following the demise of Taliban in Afghanistan, there was some hope that the organization might have gone into oblivion but sporadic attacks by different groups in many continents with affiliation to al- Qaeda still point to a close leadership structure. The relative similarity in the execution of its attacks points to the likelihood of a well structure organization which no government would like to take for granted.
- Quote paper
- David Kuria (Author), 2012, The state of terrorism in Australia. A case study of Al Qaeda, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/280714