Al-Qaeda Thesis

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Today, the world in which we live is plagued by terrorism and the constantly looming nature of fear for the next attack. Over time, mankind has observed and noted the evolution of terrorism from its simplest roots and origins in the biblical book of Joshua, to the complex and restructured form of a 21st century terrorist network. In the past, terrorist organizations structured themselves in a hierarchical and even bureaucratic structure in order to deliver orders more efficiently from leadership positions downward to the larger mass of followers. More recently however, terrorist networks have developed in order to combat states and nations more effectively. A terrorist organization must be ready to change and advance at the slightest hint of a threat, otherwise nation states would have a much simpler job apprehending and preventing terrorists before they strike. In 1988, a terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda emerged out of the Middle East, led by its charismatic leader Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda would change the face of terrorism forever.

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced back to December of 1979, during the Soviet-Afghanistan War against the tribal Afghani mujahedeen. The Soviet Union carried out an invasion against Afghanistan and the Afghan mujahedeen took to the defenses of its native country. The mujahedeen was a native radical Islamic militant group living in Afghanistan who opposed the Soviet invasion. While this war was being fought, the United States noted that the Soviet presence in Afghanistan was a blatant case of expansionism and aggression, therefore, America sought to aid the Afghani group. In a top-secret Central Intelligence Agency program codename Operation Cyclone, the United States channeled funds through Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to the mujahedeen. The war with the Soviet Union was not the only violence that took place during this period of time. There were also a growing number of mujahedeen members who joined the jihad against the Afghan-Marxist regime of Afghanistan. This jihad was facilitated by international Muslim organizations, particularly the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK). The Maktab al-Khidamat was established in 1980 by the Palestinian Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Azzam and Osama Bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi Arabian, in order to raise and channel funds and to recruit foreign mujahedeen members for the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The MAK began to organize guest houses in Peshawar, Pakistan near the Afghanistan border where they gathered supplies for the construction of paramilitary training camps to prepare foreign recruits for the war cause. Bin Laden was a major financial addition to the cause and used his own money and connections with the Saudi royal family to improve public opinion of the war and to raise more funds. In 1987, Azzam and Bin Laden set up training camps inside Afghanistan. The financial support which the United States provided through the Pakistani ISI to the Afghani Islamic militants was substantial and estimated to be upwards of $600 million. As a result of prolonged fighting and immense losses, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, leaving the country in the hands of the mujahedeen. The radicals were unable to agree upon a structure for government and left the country in a status of chaos and devastation. Toward the end of the Soviet invasion, members of the mujahedeen sought to expand their operations to include Islamist struggles in other parts of the world. A number of interrelated organizations were formed to further these aspirations, one of which was the organization that would eventually be known as al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden pursuit of non-military operations in other parts of the world was rivaled by Azzam, who wanted to remain focused on military campaigns. Bin Laden though, wanted to utilize the army of radicals at his disposal to continue to fight non-Muslims out of the holy land. In 1989, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was unexpectedly assassinated and the MAK split, with a significant portion of the members joining Osama Bin Ladens organization.

In February of 1989, Bin Laden returned to his home in Saudi Arabia, where he found the Kingdom in dismay from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990. Osama Bin Laden realized that The House of Saud was at risk, as well as the worlds most valuable oil fields, and he offered the services of his mujahedeen to King Fahd in order to protect Saudi Arabia from the invading Iraqi army. The invading Iraqi army far outnumbered Saudi Arabias own defense forces, but the King refused Osama Bin Ladens offer, and opted instead to allow American and allied forces to deploy troops into Saudi Arabia. This decision offended and angered Bin Laden as he believed the presence of foreign troops in the land of the two mosques (Mecca and Medina) profaned sacred soil. He responded by publicly speaking against the Saudi government for harboring American troops and was banished and forced to live in exile in Sudan.

From 1992 to 1996, al-Qaeda and Bin Laden based themselves in Sudan at the invitation of Islamic leader Hassan al-Turabi. On March 5th 1994, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia sent an emissary to Sudan demanding Bin Ladens passport, and his Saudi citizenship was also revoked. His family was persuaded to cut off his monthly stipend, and his Saudi assets were frozen. In June of 1995, there was a failed attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, which led to the expulsion of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and in May of 1996, the expulsion of Osama Bin Laden by the Sudanese government.

At this point, Afghanistan was effectively ungoverned for seven years and plagued by constant fighting of mujahedeen groups. However, during the 1990s a new force began to emerge, the origins of the Taliban had been aiding Bin Laden and were still laundering most of the private donations using front groups for his organization. The Taliban was able to expand their control over Afghanistan territory until it established an enclave known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In 1994, the Taliban captured the regional center of Kandahar, and after making rapid territorial gains, the capital city of Kabul was finally taken in September of 1996. Osama Bin Laden realized the importance of the Talibans control over Afghanistan and relocated al-Qaedas headquarters to Afghanistan. Not only was Afghanistan largely isolated from American political influence and military power, it also provided for protection and a measure of legitimacy as part of their Ministry of Defense, even though only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The call for a global jihad began in late 1995, when al-Qaeda ideologues were instructed that the jihad must be fought on a global level. The idea behind a global Salafist jihad existed during the 1980s; this however, was a fundamentally defensive strategy. Al-Qaeda wanted to open the offensive phase of the global jihad and incorporate all Islamic organizations around the globe. In 1996, al-Qaeda announced its jihad to expel foreign troops and interest from what they considered Islamic lands. This announcement made by Osama Bin Laden is known as a fatwa (binding religious proclamation). The fatwa amounted to a public declaration of war against the United States and its allies. In addition, al-Qaeda refocused its resources on large scale, and propagandist attacks. The first of which was the attack on the Khobar Towers, in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 and wounding 372. On February 23rd, 1998 Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, co-signed along with three others a fatwa which called upon Muslims to kill Americans and its allies wherever and whenever possible. Neither Osama Bin Laden, nor Ayman al-Zawahiri possessed the Islamic scholarly qualifications to issue a fatwa, however they rejected the authority of the contemporary ulema (Muslim scholars of sharia law) and took it upon themselves.

The radical Islamist movement in general and al-Qaeda in particular developed during the Islamist movement of the last three decades of the 20th century. Some have argued that without the writings of Islamic author and thinker Sayyid Qutb al-Qaeda would not have existed. Qutb preached that because of the lack of sharia law, the Muslim world was no longer Muslim, having reverted to pre-Islamic ignorance known as jahiliyyah. In order to restore Islam, according to Qutb, a movement of righteous Muslims was needed in order to establish true Islamic states, implement sharia, and rid the Muslim world of any non-Muslim influences, such as democracy, socialism, and capitalism. One of Qutbs most prominent and powerful ideas was that a large portion of individuals who said they were Muslim were not. Rather, they were apostates. This not only gave jihadists a legal loop hole around the prohibition of killing of Muslims, but it also made a religious obligation to execute these self-professed Muslims. These alleged apostates included leaders of Muslim countries, since they failed to enforce sharia law. The fatwa on terrorism is regarded as a direct assault on the ideology of al-Qaeda which dismantles it from the sources of the Koran and the Sunna.

On September 11th, 2001, 19 al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. The fourth plane