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Inside Al-Qaeda
The Islamist Terrorist Network

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 Inside Al-Qaeda


Al-Qaeda (or Al Qaida) means "the base." It has been described as many different things, and it includes a "federation" of different Islamic groups, all dedicated to mayhem against the West, Christians, Jews and Muslim regimes that do not conform to its ideas. It may have only a few thousand members, but seems to have many supporters and sympathizers, some of whom may be inspired to terrorist deeds by Al-Qaeda "fatwas" (judgements). Al-Qaeda became a household word in the United States following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, apparently timed to coincide with the anniversary of the abolition of the Caliphate by Kemal Ataturk in 1922.

Al-Qaeda is a shadowy terrorist network organized by Osama Bin Laden as detailed below, and probably consists of cells of terrorists and support groups that provide financial aid, publicity, shelter and recruiting facilities for Al Qaeda. The Al-Qaeda political philosophy is radical Islamism - the doctrine that governments must be forced to conform to Islamic law as they conceive it to be. It is unlikely that all Islamists are affiliated with Al Qaeda, though it is probable that most such groups cooperate. Groups such as the Lebanese Hizbolla, Palestinian Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are suspected of affiliations with Al Qaeda, but there is a lack of evidence supporting those suspicions. Al-Qaeda believe in Jihad (Holy War) to remove Western influences from Muslim areas, especially Saudi Arabia and Palestine, and reestablishment of the Caliphate (Khalifa) which will then wage Jihad against the remainder of the non-Muslim world with the aim of conquering it. The activist ideology of Islamism is based on the writings of Sayyid Qutb, Sayed Abul Ala Mawdudi and to some extent by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani. Osama Bin Ladin has added some twists, emphasis and further radicalization of his own. (for a history of the rise of Islam and a brief overview of Islamism click here). Islamism is not orthodox Islam as generally practiced, but Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin have won a great deal of admiration throughout the Middle East because they are perceived as heros who stand up to the West.

Al-Qaeda groups may cooperate with other Muslim fundamentalists and draw followers from them, but it is is not ideologically close to the Wahhabi of Saudi Arabia or the Shi'ite Islamist regime in Iran, nor is there evidence of organizational links, though many Al-Qaeda activists were recruited from Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis are intimately connected with support for the Saudi regime and do not believe in overthrowing governments, unlike Al-Qaeda. Nor is there evidence, despite some claims by Laurie Mylroie and other analysts, that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had a central role in encouraging Al-Qaeda terror, though Iraq may have sheltered and trained some Al-Qaeda terrorists, and may have used Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group, against the Kurds.

Al-Qaeda was founded about 1988 or 1989 by the Saudi Arabian militant Osama bin Laden (or Usama bin Laden or bin Ladin). Prior to the fall of 2001, Al-Qaeda was based in of Afghanistan and sheltered by the Taleban regime there. Following the terror attacks it initiated against the USA on September 11, 2001, and the  US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001, Al-Qaeda has gone further underground. Leaders are currently (April, 2004) believed to hiding in a region of Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. Relatively large scale military operations have failed to dislodge them or capture or kill the leaders, and Al-Qaeda has struck at targets in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Spain and elsewhere since 2001. Bin Laden uses an extensive international network to maintain a loose connection between Muslim extremists in diverse countries. Working through high-tech means, such as faxes, satellite telephones, and the internet, he is in touch with an unknown number of followers (estimated at about 1,500) all over the world.

The organization's main immediate goal is the overthrow of what it sees as the corrupt and heretical governments of Muslim states, and their replacement with the rule of Shari'a (Islamic law). Al-Qaeda is intensely anti-Western, and views the United States in particular as the prime enemy of Islam. Bin Laden has issued several "fatwas" or religious rulings calling upon Muslims to take up arms against the United States. He, or stand-ins for him, continue to release videotaped messages threatening or calling for attacks against the United States, Western regimes, Israel and Muslim regimes that do not subscribe to his dogmas. They attempts to radicalize existing Islamic groups and create Islamic groups where none exist. They advocate destruction of the United States, which is seen as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies.  They supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Eritera, Kosova, Pakistan, Somalia, Tajikistan and Yemen.

In February 1998, Bin Laden announced the formation of an umbrella organization called “The Islamic World Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders” (Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-`Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud wal-Salibiyyin) Among the members of this organization are the Egyptian al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian al-Jihad. Both of these groups were have been active in terrorism over the past decade.

Though the organization was not well known to the European and American public before September 11, 2001, they were apparently involved in a long series of terror attacks against American and other targets, dating back at least to 1993 (see timeline, below).


Following is a partial list of known Al-Qaeda operatives.

Ayman Zahahiri, who was a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and later a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, is considered to be the second in command of Al-Qaeda. He is Osama Bin Laden's doctor and is also apparently responsible for Al-Qaeda financial operations.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Kuwaiti-Pakistani, suspected mastermind of Sept. 11 attacks. Aliases: Ashraf Refaat Nabith Henin, Khalid Adbul Wadood, Salem Ali, Fahd Bin Adballah Bin Khalid At large.

Abu Zubaydah, Palestinian-Saudi, terrorist coordinator: Captured.

Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi (Aka Saif Al-Adil_ Egyptian, bin Laden security chief: At large. Reputedly ordered bombings in Saudia from Iran.

Shaikh Saiid Al-Sharif, Saudi, bin Laden's brother-in-law and Sept. 11 financier: At large.

Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, Saudi, Persian Gulf operations chief: Captured.

Tawfiq Attash Khallad, Yemeni, operational leader, suspected mastermind of USS Cole bombing in October 2000: At large.

Qaed Salim Sinan Al-Harethi, Yemeni, Yemen operations chief: Killed in U.S. airstrike.

Omar Al-Farouq, Kuwaiti, Southeast Asia operations chief: Captured.

Ibn Al-Shaykh Al-Libi, Libyan, training camp commander: Captured.

Saad bin Laden, Saudi, bin Laden's son: At large.

Abu Mohammad Al-Masri, Egyptian, training camp commander: At large.

Tariq Anwar Al-Sayyid Ahmad, Egyptian, operational planner: Killed in U.S. airstrike.

Abu Mohamed El Masri, reputed East African operations chief.

Mohammed Salah, Egyptian, operational planner: Killed in U.S. airstrike.

Abd Al-Hadi Al-Iraqi, training camp commander: Captured.

Ahmad Fadeel Nazal Al-Khalayleh Aka Abu Musab Zarqawi -  Jordanian, operational planner: At large. Zarqawi is reputed to have been sheltered in Iraq by Saddam Hussein after escaping from Afghanistan and later fled to Iran. He and supposedly directed the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, as well as the attack on the synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. Zarqawi is  blamed by Washington for organizing several attacks against Iraqi civilians and coalition targets in Iraq.

Abu Zubair Al-Haili, Saudi, operational planner: Arrested.

Abu Hafs The Mauritanian,  (aka Mahfouz Ould Al-Walid, Khalid Al-Shanqiti, Mafouz Walad Al-Walid, Mahamedou Ouid Slahi) operational and spiritual leader: At large.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Kuwaiti, Al Qaeda spokesman: At large.

Midhat Mursi, Egyptian, responsible for research on weapons of mass destruction: At large.

Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Saudi, financier: At large.

Hamza Al-Qatari, financier: Killed.

Ahmad Said Al-Kadr, Egyptian-Canadian, financier: At large.

Zaid Khayr, operational leader: At large.

Abu Salah Al-Yemeni: responsible for logistics, Killed.

Abu Jafar Al-Jaziri, aide to Abu Zubyadah: Killed.

Abu Basir Al-Yemeni, Yemeni, aide to Usama bin Laden: At large.

Abd Al-Aziz Al-Jamal, aide to al-Zawahri: At large.

Ramzi Binalshibh, Yemeni, planner and organizer of Sept. 11 attacks: Captured.

Zacarias Moussaoui, charged as conspirator with Sept. 11 hijackers: Arrested.

Zakariya Essabar, member of cell with Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta: At large.

Said Bahaji, member of cell with Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta: At large.


Osama Bin Laden, scion of a wealthy Saudi family of Yemeni origin, and a construction engineer with a fortune estimated at $300 millions, began his career as holy warrior in 1979, when  Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. He transferred his business to Afghanistan, including several hundred loyal workmen and heavy construction tool, -and set out to liberate the country  from the atheistic infidel Soviet invaders.  Together with Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdullah Azzam, he organized a recruiting office--Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK - Services Office) in 1984.

MAK advertised for Muslim youth to join the fight in Afghanistan. It set up recruiting offices throughout  the world, including in the U.S. and Europe. Bin Laden paid for the transportation of the new recruits to Afghanistan, and set up training camps.  The anti-Soviet Afghan government donated land and resources, while Bin Laden recruited experts from all over the world on guerilla warfare, sabotage, and covert operations. After about a year, he had thousands of volunteers in training in his camps. Large numbers of fighters got training and combat experience in Afghanistan, but most were not native Afghanis. Nearly half of the fighters came from Saudi Arabia. About 3,000 came from Algeria, 2,000 from Egypt, with thousands more coming from other Muslim countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and the Sudan.

The Americans had the same goal as Bin Laden:  to  get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. The US Central Intelligence Agency launched a $500 million-per-year program to arm and train the poor and outgunned Mujahedin guerrillas to fight the Soviet Union. The most promising leaders were found and “sponsored” by the CIA. Bin Laden’s group was one of seven major Mujahedin factions. A significant quantity of high tech American weapons, including and especially “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles, were acquired by his fighters.

In ten years of fighting the Mujaheddin vanquished the Soviet Union and forced the USSR to leave Afghanistan. The guerilla groups became  a well-organized and equipped modern army. The Mujaheddin inherited from the Soviets a huge arsenal of sophisticated weapons, and there were now thousands of seasoned Islamist warriors from a variety of countries.

Osama Bin Laden After Afghanistan
In the late 1980s, when the war was drawing to a close, Bin Laden split with MAK co-founder Azzam, and in 1988 or 1989 formed al-Qaeda to continue the work of the Jihad.  Bin Laden decided to carry the war to other countries. Late in 1989 Abdallah Azzam died in the explosion of a car bomb, possibly instigated by Bin Laden..

Osama Bin Laden returned to  Saudi Arabia to fight against the infidel government there .In April 1994, his Saudi citizenship was revoked for “irresponsible behavior,” and he was expelled from the country. With his immediate family and a large band of followers, Bin Laden moved to Khartoum in Sudan. There he set up factories and farms, some of which were established solely to supply jobs to out-of-work Mujahedin. He built roads and infrastructure for the Sudanese government and training camps for the Afghan veterans. Bin Laden’s numerous Sudanese commercial interests included: a factory to process goat skins, a construction company, a bank, a sunflower plantation, and an import-export operation.

His construction company “el-Hijrah for Construction and Development Ltd.”--in partnership with the National Islamic Front and the Sudanese military--built the new airport at Port Sudan, as well as a 1200 km-long highway linking Khartoum to Port Sudan.

For many years, Bin Laden lived in Khartoum, in a residence guarded by the local security forces, while he was arranging for many of the “Afghan veterans” to move to Sudan.  Bin Laden is said to be close to Sudanese  leader Omar Albashir, and to Hassan Turabi, the head of the National Islamic Front (NIF) in Sudan.

However, Sudan, which was on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, began to thaw toward the West. Responding to US pressure, the Sudanese government requested that Bin Laden leave. In May 1996, he moved to Afghanistan, leaving behind a network of Afghan veterans and several successful factories and corporations. In August of 1996, he issued a "Declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places."

The Islamic Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders
In February 1998, Bin Laden announced the formation of an umbrella group called “The Islamic World Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders” (Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-`Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud wal-Salibiyyin) Among the members of this organization are the Egyptian
al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian al-Jihad. The founders of the Front included, besides Bin Laden; Dr. Ayman al- Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Jihad; Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, a leader of the Islamic Group.

Bin Laden argued that Muslims everywhere in the world were suffering at the hands of the U.S. and Israel. He said the Muslims must wage holy war against their real enemies, not only to rid themselves of unpopular regimes backed by the Americans and Israelis. but also protect their faith. Bin Laden asserted that the US was vulnerable and could be defeated in war. This would happen in the same way as the USSR suffered humiliation at the hands of the Afghan and Arab “mujahideen” in Afghanistan and was eventually dismembered

On 14 May 1998, The London Al-Quds al-'Arabi reported that clerics in Afghanistan had issued a fatwa requiring the removal of U.S. forces from  the Gulf region. Addressing Muslims around the world, the Afghan ulema said: “The enemies of Islam are not limited to a certain group or party; all atheists are enemies of Islam, and they take one another as friends.” The Afghan ulema declared “jihad -- based on the rules of the Shari'a -- against the United States and its followers.” They urged Islamic governments to perform the duty of “armed jihad against the enemies of Islam,” pointing out that “if Muslims are lax in their responsibility, the enemies of Islam will occupy the two holy mosques as well, just as they occupied the al- Aqsa Mosque.” They stressed, in a statement attached to the fatwa, that: “This fatwa--with the evidence and the rulings issued by early and current ulema, on which it is based--is not merely a fatwa issued by the ulema of a Muslim country, but rather a religious fatwa that every Muslim should adopt and work under.”

Member Organizations

Among the organizations whose membership in the Islamic Front is known are the Egyptian Jihad, the Egyptian Armed Group, the Pakistan Scholars Society, the Partisans Movement in Kashmir, the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh, and the Afghan military wing of the “Advice and Reform” commission led by Osama Bin Laden.   Al-Qaeda is also believed to be linked with: militant Kashmiri groups,  The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, ( IMU),  the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines,  the GIA, or Armed Islamic Group, in Algeria and a radical offshoot known as the Salafist group, or GSPC. In addition, groups such as  the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, are probably favorably disposed toward Al-Qaeda without being formal members. Hizb ut Tahrir is a group centered in Central Asia, but with branches elsewhere and in particular in Denmark and is believed to have sent fighters to aid the Taleban against the Northern Alliance. Officially, Hizb ut-Tahrir is against use of violence for regime change in Muslim countries.

Characteristic Declarations of Al-Qaeda Prior to 9-11

According to the “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,”

“the latest and the greatest of [the] aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet . . .is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places - the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka'ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims - by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies.”

The declaration is supposed to be the first step in  “correcting what had happened to the Islamic world in general, and the Land of the two Holy Places in particular. . . Today . . . the sons of the two Holy Places, have begun their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying enemy out of the country of the two Holy places.”

In an interview with Nida’ul Islam several months later Bin Laden detailed the work that has been done in this direction after terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, and underlined their strategic importance:

“There were important effects to the two explosions in Riyadh on both the internal and external aspects. Most important amongst these is the awareness of the people to the significance of the American occupation of the country of the two sacred mosques, and that the original decrees of the regime are a reflection of the wishes of the American occupiers. So the people became aware that their main problems were caused by the American occupiers and their puppets in the Saudi regime.”

“. . . these missions also paved the way for the raising of the voices of opposition against the American occupation from within the ruling family and the armed forces; in fact we can say that the remaining Gulf countries have been effected to the same degree, and that the voices of opposition to the American occupation have begun to be heard at the level of the ruling families and the governments of the . . . Gulf countries.”

Bin Laden claimed the new Islamic Front was the force that will eventually vanquish America:

“The movement is driving fast and light forward. And I am sure of our victory with Allah’s help against America and the Jews. . . After the Americans entered the Holy Land, many emotions were roused in the Muslim world, more than we have seen before. . .The co-operation is expanding between general supporters of this religion. From this effort, the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders was formed, which we are a member of with other groups.”

Western Awareness of Al-Qaeda

Despite the European newspaper coverage noted above, most people in the West, and in the USA in particular, were blissfully ignorant of the existence of Al-Qaeda prior to September, 2001. In fact, according to Cofer Black,  at one time  Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, the CIA had been tracking Osama Bin Laden at least since his arrival in Sudan in 1991. They knew all about the fatwahs, the organizations and the threat. In his testimony given after the attacks of 9-11, Cofer listed details of some of  the early information:

So the CIA had known about Al Qaida for quite a while, yet the American people had not even heard the word "Al-Qaeda" and were not to hear it until 1999.

By January 1996, the US FBI and CIA had established a joint intelligence station codenamed Alex, and were zealously tracking the activities of Al-Qaeda. Eighteen months later, according to Richard Clarke, they had found cells of Al-Qaeda in 56 countries. In August of 1996, Bin Laden had issued his ""Declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places,"  but the declaration did not get very much publicity, and Al-Qaeda was apparently considered to be one among many threats.

In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on January  28, 1998, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh said the US faced three types of international terror:

The first category, state-sponsored terrorism, violates every convention of international law. State sponsors of terrorism include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, and North Korea. Put simply, these nations view terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. In recent years, the terrorist activities of Cuba and North Korea have declined as their economies have deteriorated. However, the activities of the other states I mentioned continue and, in some cases, have intensified during the past several years.

The second category of international terrorist threat is made up of formalized terrorist organizations. These autonomous, generally transnational organizations have their own infrastructures, personnel, financial arrangements, and training facilities. They are able to plan and mount terrorist campaigns on an international basis, and actively support terrorist activities in the United States.

Extremist groups such as Lebanese Hizballah, the Egyptian Al-Gamat Al-Islamiya, and the Palestinian Hamas have placed followers inside the United States who could be used to support an act of terrorism here.

The third category of international terrorist threat stems from loosely affiliated extremists--characterized by the World Trade Center bombers and rogue terrorists such as Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. These loosely affiliated extremists may pose the most urgent threat to the United States at this time because their membership is relatively unknown to law enforcement, and because they can exploit the mobility that emerging technology and a loose organizational structure offer.

This testimony came  two years after the establishment of Station Alex. Theoretically, the FBI knew all about Al-Qaeda and bin Ladin. Nonetheless, Al-Qaeda was not mentioned anywhere in his testimony. Osama Bin Laden was just one of many threats according to Feeh, and he didn't see any connection between separate incidents and persons such as Khobar towers,  Ramzi Yousef and the World Trade Center bombers.  Freeh was not asking for more money to fight urgent threats from Al-Qaeda apparently. In fact, his major concern seems to have been to combat the bill that finally removed US export controls from encryption technology, which had long since been stolen by any terrorist who wanted it.

In his speech following the US attacks on Afghanistan in Sudan in 1998, after the bombings of the embassies in Africa, President Clinton spoke of "the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Ladin,'' but did not name Al Qaeda at all.  Likewise, Freeh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in September of 1998. His testimony was in many places a word for word duplicate of the testimony of January. He added a mention of Bin Laden however, only to belittle his importance as a "rogue" terrorist:

"As attention focuses on Usama bin Ladin in the aftermath of the East African bombings, I believe it is important to remember that rogue terrorists such as bin Ladin represent just one type of threat that we face. It is imperative that we maintain our abilities to counter the broad range of threats that confronts us."

There was no mention of Al Qaeda in this testimony. There was no mention of Islamism either in his testimony or in the speech of President Clinton. The uninitiated listener could have no idea that there was an ideology that today we call "Islamism," or a large number of groups including Al Qaeda which followed this radical ideology. Osama Bin Laden was described as a "rogue," a lone wolf. By this time the FBI had all of the Fatwas, the information gathered by Station Alex, and Israeli intelligence reports that had fingered Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

By November 1998, Osama Bin Laden was being indicted for terrorist acts against the USA, yet there was still little talk about a major threat.  Osama Bin Laden was only added to the FBI's 10 most wanted list on June 7, 1999. In the FBI press release, Al-Qaeda is also mentioned as his organization in that press release.

According to one analyst, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, Terry Turchie, appearing before the House Subcommittee on National Security, said on  July 26, 2000, "FBI investigation and analysis indicates that the threat of terrorism in the united states is low." Turchie did not mention al Qaeda, Islamic militants, or even "religious" extremists. Rather, he cited the "serious terrorist threat" posed "animal-rights and environmental extremists," and by "right-wing groups." All of the 9-11 conspirators were in the United States by then.

Al-Qaeda was held responsible for the attacks on the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia, for the bomb that exploded in the Twin Towers in 1993, and for the attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar as -Salaam in August 1998 and other terror attacks (see timeline below). However, the American public was largely ignorant of the existence of Al-Qaeda. It was not often mentioned publicly as a terrorist organization by administration spokespersons, and it appeared only rarely in reports in the US media.

It was only after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 that administration spokespersons and USA media began focusing on  Al-Qaeda publicly as responsible for terror attacks and media and most analysts began describing it with varying degrees of accuracy. In fact, it was late in September 2001 before FBI chief Robert Mueller publicly blamed the attacks of September 11 on Al-Qaeda.

Timeline of Al Qaeda terror attacks

The following are probably or certainly the work of Al-Qaeda:

February 26, 1993: Six people killed and about a thousand injured after a truck bomb explodes in the basement of the World Trade Center towers in New York.

October 3, 4 1993: Eighteen American soldiers are attacked and killed in Mogadishu, Somalia. A U.S. indictment later charged bin Laden and his followers with training the attackers. This is the incident described in the movie Black Hawk Down.

January, 1995: Following an explosion in a Manila apartment, Philippine police uncover a plot, code-named Bojinka or “Big Bang,”  to blow up 12 airplanes bound for the U.S. Authorities arrest Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani who is an associate of Ramzi Yousef, implicated in the Twin Towers bombing.

November 13, 1995: Five US soldiers and two Indian nationals are killed and more than 60 people wounded when a car bomb explodes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

June 25, 1996: Nineteen killed and 386 wounded when a truck bomb explodes at the US military base of Khobar near the town of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia.

August 7, 1998: 224 people killed and over 5000 injured, mostly Africans, when US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in east Africa are bombed.

October 12, 2000: 17 US sailors killed and 38 injured when a suicide attack on USS Cole in Aden is carried out.

September 11, 2001: Nearly 3,000 killed as hijacked airliners destroy the Twin Towers in New York city and crash into the Pentagon.

April, 2002 : Explosion at historic synagogue on the island of Djerba, in Tunisia leaves 21 dead, including 14 German tourists.

May, 2002:  A car explodes outside hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 14, including 11 French citizens.

June, 2002: A bomb explodes outside American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 12.

October  12, 2002: A bomb explodes in a Bali nightclub killing 202 people, many of them Westerners. Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) is blamed for the blasts. In the months following the attacks about 30 alleged JI members are arrested and put on trial. This group is widely believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Recently (April 3, 2004) suspects in the bombing said they were inspired by Fatwas of Bin Laden, but the leader of Jemaah Islamiah denies any connection to Al-Qaeda or Bin Laden:

Mohamed Nasir Abbas, one of the four men interviewed by Malaysia's TV3, said the bombings were inspired by religious edicts, known as fatwas, attributed to bin Laden.

"People who believed in the fatwa carried out bombings," Nasir said. "Therefore they bombed churches. The bombing in Bali was based on a policy to take revenge against America."
(smh.com.au April 3, 2004 - Bali bombs 'inspired' by bin Laden)


November 28, 2002: Two attacks are launched against Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya. A hotel blast kills 16 - including the three suicide bombers - and a missile is fired but misses an Israeli plane. A message on a website purporting to come from al-Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack.

May 12, 2003: At least 34 people are killed in a series of bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, hitting  luxury compounds housing foreign nationals and the offices of a US-Saudi company.  The US and Saudi Governments say al-Qaeda is the prime suspect for blasts, which coincide with a visit to the kingdom by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

May 16, 2003: Casablanca is hit by a series of suicide bombings that kill 41 people, including 12 attackers. Moroccan authorities say that the attacks are linked to "international terror". Four men convicted and sentenced to death in September for the attacks are said by the Moroccan authorities to be members of the Salafia Jihadia. This group is widely believed to be linked to al-Qaeda.

August 5, 2003: Twelve people die and 150 are injured  in a suicide bomb attack at a US-run luxury hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia's defense minister blames Jamaah Islamiah militants for the attack

October 6, 2002: A crew member dies after an apparent suicide bomb attack on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. The US Government links the attack to al-Qaeda.

October 28, 2002:  U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley is gunned down in front of his house in Amman as he  walks to his car. Two men were involved. They were identified as Salem Sa'ed Salem bin Suweid, a Libyan national, and Yasser Fathi Ibraheem, a Jordanian. They confessed to membership in al Qaeda and confessed that they received their orders from a senior al Qaeda leader, Ahmad Fadeel Nazal Al-Khalayleh, known as Abu Musa'ab Al-Zarqawi.

November 15,  2003: At least 23 people are killed and more than 300 injured in two attacks on synagogues in Istanbul.

November 20, 2003: In coordinated attacks on the British Consulate and the HSBC bank offices in Istanbul, 27 people die and more than 450 are injured.

March 11, 2004: Bombs in Madrid city trains kill 192. The  Abu Hafs al-Masri group took credit and claimed it was affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Apparently, this is the same group that was involved in Turkish and Saudi bombings. Spanish government claims that the blasts were the work of the Basque ETA separatists were subsequently totally discredited. The announced aim of the terrorist acts is to persuade the Spanish government to withdraw its troops from Iraq. The opposition unseats the government in the subsequent election, and opposition leader Zapatero announces that Spain will withdraw its troops if the Iraq occupation is not put under the aegis of the UN by June 30, 2004.

At least some of the mass terror attacks in Iraq and Russia (associated with Chechnya) are also attributable to Al-Qaeda or groups close to Al-Qaeda.

Ami Isseroff


A concise history of Islam and the Arabs

Who is Osama Bin Laden? 

Osama Bin Laden's Latest message

Al Qaeda Timeline - Before September 11,  2001

Links to additional background about Al-Qaeda after 9-11

Dossier of documents on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Al-Qaeda Training Manual Part I

Al-Qaeda Training Manual Part II

Main History Page   Mewnews Main Page

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