Overview

Executive Summary:

Osama bin Laden founded al-Qaeda during the latter stages of the Soviet-Afghan War with the goal of waging global jihad. Since its founding in 1988, al-Qaeda has played a role in innumerable terrorist attacks, and is most notoriously responsible for the multiple attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 terror attacks—the deadliest ever on American soil—left nearly 3,000 people dead and provoked the United States to wage war against al-Qaeda in the group’s home bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other sanctuaries worldwide. Since then, the group has established four major regional affiliates pledging their official allegiance to al-Qaeda: in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

In addition to directing and carrying out the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda is responsible for terrorist atrocities across the globe, including the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2002 Bali bombing, the 2003 Saudi Arabia bombings, the 2004 Madrid bombing, and the 2005 London bombing. Al-Qaeda is also responsible for several failed operations, including the 2009 Christmas Day plane bombing attempt, the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt, and the 2010 cargo plane bombing attempt. Today, al-Qaeda’s structure is increasingly decentralized, with affiliates acting semi-autonomously as extensions of al-Qaeda’s core mission. These affiliates carry out fatal terrorist attacks and hostage operations, and wage war under the al-Qaeda banner. Although al-Qaeda maintains affiliates worldwide, some of its affiliates have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Iraq and current competitor, ISIS.  However, despite the dramatic rise of ISIS since 2013, the Pentagon, the National Counterterrorism Center,  and the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have all forcefully stressed that al-Qaeda remains a critical terrorist threat.“Special Issue: The Al-Qa’ida Threat 14 Years Later,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, September 2015, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=787133; Eric Schmitt, “ISIS or Al Qaeda? American Officials Split Over Top Terrorist Threat,” New York Times, August 4, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/world/middleeast/isis-or-al-qaeda-american-officials-split-over-biggest-threat.html?_r=0. This assessment was borne out in January 2015, when al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was credited with the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. Despite important strategic and ideological differences, Zawahiri has indicated that future cooperation with ISIS is not out of the question, for the ultimate goal of destroying the United States or, in the event of ISIS’s own destruction, absorbing its fighters into a reinvigorated al-Qaeda.Carla E. Humud, “Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,” Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.

Doctrine:

Al-Qaeda is a jihadist network that seeks to establish a caliphate (global Muslim state) under sharia (Islamic law). In 1996, bin Laden issued a declaration of jihad against the United States and its allies, the contents of which continue to serve as the three cornerstones of al-Qaeda’s doctrine: to unite the world’s Muslim population under sharia; to liberate the “holy lands” from the “Zionist-Crusader” alliance, and to alleviate perceived economic and social injustices.“Bin Laden’s Fatwa,” PBS Newshour, August 23, 1996,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military-july-dec96-fatwa_1996/.

Ultimately, al-Qaeda believes that it is fighting a “defensive jihad” against the United States and its allies, defending Muslim lands from the “new crusade led by America against the Islamic nations…”http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL32759.pdf. In his 1996 declaration of jihad against the United States, Osama bin Laden justified the use of force by citing 13th century Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah: “To fight in defence of religion and Belief is a collective duty; there is no other duty after Belief than fighting the enemy who is corrupting the life and the religion. There [are] no preconditions for this duty and the enemy should be fought with [one’s] best abilities.”“Bin Laden’s Fatwa,” PBS Newshour, August 23, 1996,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military-july-dec96-fatwa_1996/.

Since then, the group has adapted its strategy in an effort to meet its evolving goals. In 2005, details of al-Qaeda’s 20-year strategy to implement its ideology emerged. Following a series of interviews and correspondence with senior al-Qaeda officials by Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, he described the “stages” leading to the ultimate objective of establishing a caliphate. According to Hussein, the first stage was the “awakening stage,” which ranged from the 9/11 attacks to the U.S. taking over Baghdad in 2003.Yassin Musharbash, “The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants,” Spiegel Online, August 12, 20015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-future-of-terrorism-what-al-qaida-really-wants-a-369448.html; Radwan Mortada, “Al-Qaeda’s 20-Year Plan,” Al-Akhbar English, January 29, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18437. This period was then to be followed by the “opening eyes” stage which was expected to last between 2003 and 2006. According to Hussein, this stage entailed enhanced al-Qaeda operations in the Middle East, centralizing power in Iraq, and establishing bases in other Arabic states. The third stage, “Arising and Standing Up,” was staged to last between 2007 and 2010 and was focused on goading Syria to conduct attacks on Israel and Turkey. The following three years, 2010 to 2013, would involve the overthrow of Arabic monarchies and cyber-attacks on the United States economy. The declaration of the caliphate would come between 2013 and 2016.Yassin Musharbash, “The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants,” Spiegel Online, August 12, 20015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-future-of-terrorism-what-al-qaida-really-wants-a-369448.html; Radwan Mortada, “Al-Qaeda’s 20-Year Plan,” Al-Akhbar English, January 29, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18437.

However, al-Qaeda’s planned declaration of a caliphate was usurped by ISIS. In September 2015, on the eve of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri denounced ISIS for its so-called unilateral and premature imposition of a caliphate without coordination with other jihadist groups through sharia courts, which he calls the “prophetic method.”James Gordon Meek, “Al Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri Declares War on ISIS ‘Caliph’ Al-Baghdadi,” ABC News, September 10, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/International/al-qaeda-leader-al-zawahiri-declares-war-isis/story?id=33656684. In particular, Zawahiri expressed his dismay that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had anointed himself the fourth caliph “without consulting the Muslims.”James Gordon Meek, “Al Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri Declares War on ISIS ‘Caliph’ Al-Baghdadi,” ABC News, September 10, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/International/al-qaeda-leader-al-zawahiri-declares-war-isis/story?id=33656684. Zawahiri also strongly criticized infighting among jihadist groups, especially the killing of other Muslims because, according to Zawahiri, it distracted from the overriding goal of destroying the United States.Carla E. Humud, “Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,” Congressional Research Service,  August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.

Since then, and despite the local-oriented activities of al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates, Zawahiri has maintained that the group’s primary target is the United States and “its ally Israel, and secondly its local allies that rule our countries.”Ayman al-Zawahiri, “General Guidelines for Jihad,” As-Sahab Media, September 2013, https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dr-ayman-al-e1ba93awc481hirc4ab-22general-guidelines-for-the-work-of-a-jihc481dc4ab22-en.pdf. Despite al-Qaeda’s criticism of ISIS, Zawahiri has not ruled out the possibility of cooperating with ISIS, or absorbing its fighters if ISIS is eventually defeated.Carla E. Humud, “Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,” Congressional Research Service, August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.

Organizational Structure:

Al-Qaeda’s central command, which includes current leader Ayman al-Zawahri and his top aides, has traditionally been headquartered in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda has long pledged allegiance to the Afghan-based Taliban, which provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda after the United States turned its military focus on the group following the 9/11 attacks. In June 2016, Zawahiri reaffirmed al-Qaeda’s allegiance by publicly endorsing the Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.“Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri backs new Taliban chief Askhundzada,” Deutsche Welle, June 11, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/al-qaedas-zawahiri-backs-new-taliban-chief-akhundzada/a-19323475.

Since the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S.-led campaign against the organization’s base of operations, al-Qaeda spawned affiliate groups that have spread throughout North Africa and the Sahel, East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and most recently, South Asia. Despite the affiliates’ dispersal over such a vast area, the commander of each branch has pledged allegiance to—and takes operational directions from—al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.Thomas Joscelyn, “Global Al Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges,” Long War Journal, July 18, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/07/global_al_qaeda_affi.php#.

In North Africa and the Sahel, al-Qaeda is represented by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). In East Africa, the group is represented by Somali-based al-Shabab. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which many security analysts believe poses the greatest security threat to Western targets, operates primarily in Yemen. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Subcontinent (AQIS) is the most recent regional al-Qaeda affiliate to be established, operating chiefly in India, Bangladesh, as well as in the traditional al-Qaeda “home” countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. For years, al-Qaeda has sustained a formal affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. In July 2016, the groups announced that they had split, a move which some analysts have dismissed as artificial.Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Al Nusrah Front rebrands itself as Jabhat Fath Al Sham,” Long War Journal, July 28, 2016, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/07/analysis-al-nusrah-front-rebrands-itself-as-jabhat-fath-al-sham.php.

Recent developments suggest that al-Qaeda’s primacy of command is not exclusive to the group’s geographical base in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In August 2013, Zawahri appointed Nasir al-Wuhayshi, former head of AQAP, as deputy leader of al-Qaeda’s global organization.Ellen Nakashima and Anne Gearan, “Al-Qaeda Leader Zawahiri Is Said to Have Ordered Terrorist Attack; U.S. Citizens Urged to Leave Yemen,”Washington Post, August 5, 2013,http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/al-qaeda-leader-zawahiri-is-said-to-have-ordered-terrorist-attack/2013/08/05/9eb4799e-fe1b-11e2-bd97-676ec24f1f3f_story.html. After Wuhayshi died in a U.S. airstrike in June 2015, Zawahiri appointed al-Qaeda’s current deputy leader—Abu Khayr al-Masri—who was last seen operating in Syria.Ray Sanchez and Paul Cruickshank, “Syria’s al-Nusra rebrands and cuts ties with al Qaeda,” CNN, August 1, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/28/middleeast/al-nusra-al-qaeda-split/.

Financing:

In its early stages, al-Qaeda’s primary bankroller was its founder Osama bin Laden. Since then, al-Qaeda has come to rely on donations and extorted funds for financing. Today, al-Qaeda receives funding from a wide range of sources, including private donors, Islamic charities and foundations, state sponsors, and from activities linked to drug trafficking, bank robbery, and hostage-taking..

Private Donors

High-profile private donors to al-Qaeda include: ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umayr al-Nu’aymi;“Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 18, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx. ‘Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani;“Treasury Designates Al-Qa’ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 18, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2249.aspx. Enaam Arnaout;“Treasury Designates Benevolence International Foundation and Related Entities as Financiers of Terrorism,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, November 19, 2002, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po3632.aspx. Muhammad Yaqub Mirza;Glenn Simpson, “U.S. Indicts Head of Charity For Helping Fund al Qaeda,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2002, http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB1034185882821997916. Shafi Sultan Mohammed al-Ajmi;Jay Solomon, “U.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782. Hajjaj Fahd Hajjaj Muhammad Shabib al-Ajmi;Jay Solomon, “U.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782. and Abd al-Rahman Khalaf Ubayad Juday al-Anizi.Jay Solomon, “U.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 Kuwait-Based Financiers for Alleged Terrorism Funding,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-treasury-sanctions-3-kuwait-based-financiers-for-alleged-terrorism-funding-1407337782.

Charities and Foundations

One source of funding for al-Qaeda comes from purported charities that serve as fronts for al-Qaeda. A primary example is the Saudi-based Benevolence International Foundation. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the foundation’s CEO “was indicted in the United States for operating BIF as a racketeering enterprise and providing material support to organizations, including al Qaida, that are engaged in violent activities.”“Treasury Designates Benevolence International Foundation and Related Entities as Financiers of Terrorism,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, November 19, 2002, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po3632.aspx. The Department notes that “documents…established that Arnaout worked with others—including members of al Qaida—to purchase rockets, mortars, rifles, and offensive and defensive bombs, and to distribute them to various mujahideen camps, including camps operated by al Qaida.”“Treasury Designates Benevolence International Foundation and Related Entities as Financiers of Terrorism,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, November 19, 2002, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po3632.aspx.

Other examples of purported charities that have been exposed as al-Qaeda financiers include the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), a foundation based in Turkey that was reportedly “the biggest Turkish provider of aid to Syria,”Lisa Lundquist, “Turkish Counterterrorism Raids Target Al Islamic Charity, Net Al Qaeda Operatives,” Long War Journal, January 14, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/turkish_counterterro.php. and the Sheik Eid bin Mohammad al-Thani Charitable Foundation, a Qatari foundation named for a member of Qatar’s royal family. This foundation was run by Qatari professor and U.S designated al-Qaeda financier Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi.

State Sponsors of al-Qaeda Terrorism

The most significant source of funding for al-Qaeda is believed to come from state sponsorship of terrorism and covert support for al-Qaeda financing. These sponsors and supporters most notably include Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran: According to the U.S. State Department, “Iran allowed AQ facilitators… to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and to Syria.”“Country Reports on Terrorism 2012,” U.S. Department of State, May 2013, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210204.pdf. The U.S. Treasury Department noted that the Iran-based al-Qaeda network “use[d] Iran as a critical transit point and operate[d] under an agreement between al-Qa’ida and the Iranian government.” Under the terms of the agreement between al-Qaeda and Iran, al-Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities. In the U.S. Treasury Department’s 2011 press release on the network, David S. Cohen, then-Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said, “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qa’ida allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.”“Treasury Targets Key Al-Qa’ida Funding and Support Network Using Iran as a Critical Transit Point,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 28, 2011, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1261.aspx.
Kuwait: According to Obama administration officials, Kuwait is the leading source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting in Syria’s civil war.Karen DeYoung, “Kuwait, Ally on Syria, is Also the Leading Funder of Extremist Rebels,” Washington Post, April 25, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/kuwait-top-ally-on-syria-is-also-the-leading-funder-of-extremist-rebels/2014/04/25/10142b9a-ca48-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html. Kuwaiti individuals and charities have reportedly funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Syrian rebel groups, such as the al-Qaeda–affiliated Nusra Front.Karen DeYoung, “Kuwait, Ally on Syria, is Also the Leading Funder of Extremist Rebels,” Washington Post, April 25, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/kuwait-top-ally-on-syria-is-also-the-leading-funder-of-extremist-rebels/2014/04/25/10142b9a-ca48-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html. U.S. Treasury officials have chastised Kuwait for its lax financing rules that allow financiers to funnel money abroad to terrorist groups. Kuwait has since created a financial intelligence unit, but U.S. officials still believe the country’s government has not done enough.William Mauldin, “U.S. Calls Qatar, Kuwait Lax Over Terror Financing,” Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-calls-qatar-kuwait-lax-over-terror-financing-1414108799.
Qatar: In December 2012, the New York Times accused the Qatari regime of funding al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.“Al Qaeda in Syria,” New York Times, December 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/opinion/al-qaeda-in-syria.html?_r=0. In October 2014, it was revealed that Qatar employed an al-Qaeda financier in its Ministry of Interior, Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari, despite his designation as a terrorist by the United States.Robert Mendick, “Al Qaeda Terror Financier Worked for Qatari Government,” Telegraph (London), October 12, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11156327/Al-Qaeda-terror-financier-worked-for-Qatari-government.html. Al-Kuwari has channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda.Robert Mendick, “Al Qaeda Terror Financier Worked for Qatari Government,” Telegraph (London), October 12, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11156327/Al-Qaeda-terror-financier-worked-for-Qatari-government.html.
Saudi Arabia: In October 2014, jailed al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui testified in a U.S. District Court that members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family were major al-Qaeda donors in the late 1990s.Scott Shane, “Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda,” New York Times, February 3, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/us/zacarias-moussaoui-calls-saudi-princes-patrons-of-al-qaeda.html?_r=1. Al-Qaeda leaders directed him in 1998 or 1999 to create a digital database of the group’s donors, he said. That database included Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief; Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar bin Sultan; billionaire investor Prince al-Waleed bin Talal; and several high-profile clerics.Scott Shane, “Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda,” New York Times, February 3, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/us/zacarias-moussaoui-calls-saudi-princes-patrons-of-al-qaeda.html?_r=1. He also claimed he carried messages between bin Laden and prominent Saudi donors. He told the court that he had discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington.Scott Shane, “Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda,” New York Times, February 3, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/us/zacarias-moussaoui-calls-saudi-princes-patrons-of-al-qaeda.html?_r=1. According to Stuart Levey the Treasury Department’s then-Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, “Saudi Arabia [in 2008] remains the location from which more money is going to [Sunni] terror groups… than from any other place in the world.”Josh Meyer, “Saudis faulted for funding terror,” Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2008, http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/02/nation/na-terror2. The 9/11 Commission found that Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Bank was responsible for funneling funds to the 9/11 hijackers through the International Islamic Relief Organization. According to U.S. intelligence reports, Al-Rajhi Bank has administered accounts for charities that are actually front organizations for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Glenn R. Simpson, “U.S. Tracks Saudi Bank Favored By Extremists,” Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2007, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118530038250476405. The bank denies accusations it has helped fund extremists.Glenn R. Simpson, “U.S. Tracks Saudi Bank Favored By Extremists,” Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2007, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118530038250476405.

Drug Trafficking

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have received a portion of its funding through drug trafficking. There is “hard evidence,” for example, of al-Qaeda links to cocaine trafficking in the Sahara.Afua Hirsch, “Cocaine Flows through Sahara as Al-Qaida Cashes in on Lawlessness,” Guardian (London), May 2, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/02/cocaine-flows-through-sahara-al-qaida. Dealing in Afghan heroin is another source of funding for al-Qaeda.Gretchen Peters, “How Opium Profits the Taliban,” United States Institute of Peace, August 2009, http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/resources/taliban_opium_1.pdf. South American drug cartels have also turned to North Africa as a route to European markets. This has created opportunity for al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has made deals to guarantee safe passage through Africa’s Sahel region to drug traffickers from the South American rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in exchange for shares of the profits.Robin Yapp, “South American drug gangs funding al-Qaeda terrorists,” Daily Telegraph (London), December 29, 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/colombia/8230134/South-American-drug-gangs-funding-al-Qaeda-terrorists.html. Al-Qaeda has used profits from drug trafficking in North Africa, particularly from cocaine, to purchase weapons and boost recruiting.Colin Freeman, “Revealed: how Saharan caravans of cocaine help to fund al-Qaeda in terrorists’ North African domain,” Daily Telegraph (London), January 26, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9829099/Revealed-how-Saharan-caravans-of-cocaine-help-to-fund-al-Qaeda-in-terrorists-North-African-domain.html. The United Nations Office for Drug Control estimated in 2013 that 35 metric tons of cocaine pass through the region annually.Colin Freeman, “Revealed: how Saharan caravans of cocaine help to fund al-Qaeda in terrorists’ North African domain,” Daily Telegraph (London), January 26, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9829099/Revealed-how-Saharan-caravans-of-cocaine-help-to-fund-al-Qaeda-in-terrorists-North-African-domain.html.

Bank Robbery

Al-Qaeda’s affiliates have conducted a number of bank heists that support the group’s proxy operations. When ISIS was linked to al-Qaeda, for example, bank robberies were once reported to be its main source of funding.Jim Michaels, “Al-Qaeda in Iraq Relying More on Bank Heists,” USA Today, September 7, 2010, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2010-09-07-iraqrobberies07_ST_N.htm?csp=34news. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also conducted several bank robberies in Yemen to supplement its primary source of funding, hostage-taking.“Country Report on Terrorism 2013,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm.

Hostages

Kidnapping and ransom operations presently constitute a significant source of al-Qaeda funding. Since 2008, European governments negotiating for hostages have paid upwards of $125 million in ransom to al-Qaeda, with the U.S. Treasury Department estimating that figure at $165 million.Rukmini Callimachi, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror,” New York Times, July 29, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/world/africa/ransoming-citizens-europe-becomes-al-qaedas-patron.html?_r=0. And the ransom payments continue. Al-Qaeda extorted European governments for $66 million in 2014 alone,Rukmini Callimachi, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror,” New York Times, July 29, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/world/africa/ransoming-citizens-europe-becomes-al-qaedas-patron.html?_r=0. compared to 2004 to 2012, when those governments paid al-Qaeda around $120 million in total.Ellen Knickmeyer, “Al Qaeda-Linked Groups Increasingly Funded by Ransom,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/ransom-fills-terrorist-coffers-1406637010. As David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s then–Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in 2014, “Only U.S.-designated state sponsors of terror now provide more money to violent extremist groups than ransoms do.”Ellen Knickmeyer, “Al Qaeda-Linked Groups Increasingly Funded by Ransom,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/ransom-fills-terrorist-coffers-1406637010.

Recruitment and Training:

Recruitment

Al-Qaeda has focused its recruiting on the Middle East, where al-Qaeda's holy war garners adherents from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Potential recruits are often identified due to the character of their faith. Recruiters patrol certain mosques known for extremist interpretations of Islamic texts and seek out the most curious or fervent believers.Seaman William Selby, “Detained Terrorists Reveal Al-Qaeda Recruiting Process,” Armed Forces Press Service, March 18, 2008, http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=49310. Recruits are quickly immersed in doctrines of martyrdom and jihad and instructed in the religious duty to establish the caliphate.

Local insurgent groups in the Middle East and North Africa have found that the al-Qaeda label itself helps to attract new members on the basis of al-Qaeda’s global revolutionary agenda. As counter-terrorism scholar Daniel Byman notes, “Groups like al-Shabab often have an inchoate ideology; al Qaeda offers them a coherent—and, to a certain audience, appealing—alternative.”Daniel Byman, “Al Qaeda's M&A Strategy,” Brookings Institution, December 7, 2010, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2010/12/07-al-qaeda-byman.

In Europe, al-Qaeda has sought recruits from those marginalized by society. They have actively, if informally, recruited members from Europe’s prison system. In 2006, Steve Gough of the U.K.’s Prison Officers Association said he did not think there were “al-Qaida-controlled wings” yet in British prisons. Nonetheless, Gough noted that al-Qaeda was already recruiting prisoners who shared their cells or were held in cells nearby.Alan Travis, “Prisons failing to tackle terror recruitment,” Guardian (London), October 1, 2006, http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/oct/02/prisonsandprobation.terrorism. In France, two of the alleged January 2015 Paris attackers, Amedy Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, met al-Qaeda’s “premiere European recruiter,” Djamel Beghal, in prison.Scott Bronstein, Drew Griffin, and Deborah Feyerick, “For Paris attackers, terror ties ran deep,” CNN, January 13, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/europe/paris-terror-suspects-al-qaeda-ties/.

Al-Qaeda's online recruitment has grown increasingly sophisticated. Its broad goal has been twofold: to increase the charm of an austere existence rooted in religion and then to shame those who abstain from this duty. These dual messages are conveyed online in many ways. Jihadist-inspired rap music, video games, and comics have successfully cast holy war positively and pulled new recruits into the organization.Andrew Dornbierer, “How al-Qaeda Recruits Online,” Diplomat, September 13, 2011, http://thediplomat.com/2011/09/how-al-qaeda-recruits-online/.

Training

From the Lackawanna Six to Charlie Hebdo

Sahim Alwan was one of the “Lackawanna Six” from Buffalo, New York, who were convicted of supporting al-Qaeda after attending a terror training camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001.Christopher M. Matthews, “Al Qaeda Trainee Describes Training Camp During Terror Trial,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303824204579423753034928002. More than 10 years later, Saïd Kouachi, one of the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings, confirmed that he spent “a few months” training in small-arms combat, marksmanship, and other skills on display in videos of the military-style attack. Thus, despite the increase in lone-wolf incidents since 9/11, traditional terrorist operations, including recruitment and training at foreign camps, remain a threat to Western security today.

Training Camps

Al-Qaeda training camps are located in numerous countries around the globe. While allied with the Taliban, al-Qaeda established several training camps in Afghanistan, including the sprawling Tarnak Farms, where Osama bin Laden allegedly plotted 9/11. Most Afghan camps were destroyed during the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country after 9/11.“Terrorist Training and Indoctrination,” MI5 Security Service, accessed March 14, 2015, https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/about-us/what-we-do/the-threats/terrorism/international-terrorism/international-terrorism-and-the-uk/terrorist-training.html. Unfortunately, as Joshua E. Keating of Newsweek noted in January 2015, “Where once there were few sanctuaries for jihadists [i.e., primarily in Afghanistan], now there are many—in Syria and Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia.” Today’s jihadist training camps are created by a dispersed membership of not only al-Qaeda core but also offshoots like AQAP and AQIM.Kurt Eichenwald, “The Strategic Blunder Behind the War on Terror,” Newsweek, January 13, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/23/paris-massacre-was-declaration-new-kind-war-298810.html.

In Africa, AQIM ran a training camp for eight months in Timbuktu, Mali before France conducted an airstrike that destroyed the unassuming building. A cook and cleaner at the facility recalled, “[The building was] ringed by a perimeter fence topped with barbed wire” and “became the hub for AQIM's new recruits. They [the recruits] ate, slept and trained in the old Gendarmerie, turning some of its rooms into dormitories.David Blair, “Timbuktu: al-Qaeda’s terrorist training academy in the Mali desert,” Telegraph (London), February 11, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali/9860822/Timbuktu-al-Qaedas-terrorist-training-academy-in-the-Mali-desert.html.

Al-Qaeda also relies on proxy training facilities from like-minded terrorist outfits like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) in Pakistan. The latter group allegedly plotted the 2008 Mumbai attacks.Joshua E. Keating, “What Do You Learn at Terrorist Training Camp?” Foreign Policy, May 10, 2010, http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/05/10/what-do-you-learn-at-terrorist-training-camp/. Keating notes that:

The camps these groups run are often small, just one or two buildings, and temporary — such groups stay on the move to avoid detection by satellite or intelligence agents. These groups are believed to be increasingly sharing resources when it comes to training. According to some estimates, there are about 40 militant training camps around Pakistan.Joshua E. Keating, “What Do You Learn at Terrorist Training Camp?” Foreign Policy, May 10, 2010, http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/05/10/what-do-you-learn-at-terrorist-training-camp/.

Nonetheless, in late 2015, U.S. and Afghan forces discovered a large training camp in Qandahar Province, suggesting that al-Qaeda has “expanded its presence in Afghanistan.”Carla E. Humud, “Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa,” Congressional Research Service,  August 11, 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43756.pdf.

Indoctrination

In addition to physical training, indoctrination through study, videos, prayer, and a generally regimented lifestyle is meant to reinforce the singular message of jihad that al-Qaeda wishes to inspire in its trainees. Alwan noted that at the camp he attended, there was a billboard displaying a Quranic message that said, “Prepare for them what you can of strength so they may cast fear in the enemies of God.”Christopher M. Matthews, “Al Qaeda Trainee Describes Training Camp During Terror Trial,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303824204579423753034928002.

An al-Qaeda manual found in May 2000 further illustrates the degree of indoctrination that jihadists face in camp. The 180-page “handwritten terror instruction book” is dubbed the “Manchester Manual” because British anti-terror police found it in a raid on the apartment of al-Qaeda commander Abu Anas al-Liby in Manchester, England. Liby was wanted for plotting the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.Ian Drury, Chris Greenwood, and Martin Robinson, “Manchester Link of al-Qaeda Commander Captured in Daring U.S. Delta Forces Raid as It Emerges Jihadist Gave Scotland Yard the Slip 13 Years Ago After Being Given Asylum in the UK,” Daily Mail (London), last modified October 7, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2447532/Al-Qaeda-commander-Abu-Anas-al-Liby-snatched-Libya-US-Delta-Force.html#ixzz3SEEh5jkk. The manual provides significant insight on the type of training al-Qaeda soldiers receive beyond physical training. Specifically, according to the U.S. Joint Task Force Guantanamo, “The Manchester Manual is literally an overarching basic guide that simply covers just about everything. It covers how to conduct general combat operations, how to escape and evade capture and how to behave in captivity. There is even a chapter on how to poison yourself using your own feces.”Shanita Simmons, “Manchester Manual The Code of Conduct for terrorism,” Joint Task Force Guantanamo, August 14, 2007, http://www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil/storyarchive/2007/August/081407-2-manmanual.html.

Much of the information in the manual was corroborated by Guantanamo Bay detainees regarding al-Qaeda operative training. For example, Omar Sheik [a kidnapper of Daniel Pearl] told his interrogators that he was trained in… the art of disguise... secret rendezvous techniques; hidden writing techniques; [and] cryptology and codes... Moreover, Khalid Sheik Muhammad—the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks—admitted that he assisted the hijackers in preparing to live a Western lifestyle by instructing them how to order food at restaurants and wear Western clothes, amongst other things. Furthermore, an al-Qaeda training manual entitled, “Declaration of Jihad Against the Country’s Tyrants (Military Series), written primarily with the stated purpose of helping operatives avoid detection when infiltrating an enemy area, teaches lessons in forging documents and counterfeiting currency, living a cover, cell compartmentalization, and meeting and communicating clandestinely…Devin D. Jesse, “Tactical Means, Strategic Ends: Al Qaeda’s Use of Denial and Deception,” Terrorism and Political Violence 18 (2006): 371, http://www.international.ucla.edu/media/files/FTPV_A_175157_P.pdf.

Today, there are numerous ideological offshoots that either continue to support or have deviated from al-Qaeda in the Middle East and other regions. As mentioned above, al-Qaeda itself continues some training camps but also increasingly outsources to allied groups in countries such as Pakistan. The need for such camps to remain under the radar will only grow as more countries band together to fight ISIS (which has more than 40 camps in Iraq and Syria alone) and other violent extremist groups like the Nusra Front and Boko Haram.

Key Leaders

History

 

Violent Activities

  • December 1992: Bombs exploded at a hotel in Aden, Yemen where U.S. troops had stayed before traveling to Somalia. Two Austrian tourists died in the attack.“Osama Bin Laden: A Chronology of His Political Life,” PBS Frontline, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/etc/cron.html.
  • February 1993: Khalid Sheik Mohamed’s nephew Ramzi Yousef masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, which killed six and wounded 1,500.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • April-June 1993: FBI stops plot to bomb several targets in New York, including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the Federal Building, and one location in the Diamond District.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • October 1993: An al-Qaeda cell in Somalia allegedly shot down a U.S. black hawk helicopter in Mogadishu. 18 U.S. servicemen died in the operation.Andrew Wander, “A History of Terror: Al-Qaeda 1988-2008,” Guardian (London), July 12, 2008, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/13/history.alqaida.
  • March 1994: Ramzi Yousef and a militant cell in Bangkok hijacked a delivery truck and attempt to deliver a one-ton bomb to the Israeli embassy. The plot failed when the truck crashed and the militants were forced to abandon it.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • November 1994: Bin Laden’s associates in Manila conducted surveillance of President Bill Clinton and his Secret Service detail during a state visit, in preparation for an assassination attempt during Clinton’s planned trip to the APEC summit in November 1996. Surveillance tapes, maps, and notes were passed to Bin Laden in Sudan.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • June 1995: Members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad attacked former President Hosni Mubarak’s motorcade during his visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the Organization of African Unity summit. Egyptian officials believed that Bin Laden planned the attack.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • August 1998: Simultaneous suicide bombings at the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya killed 258 people and wound more than 5,000. In retaliation, the Clinton administration launched cruise missile attacks on suspected al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and on the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum.“Osama Bin Laden: A Chronology of His Political Life,” PBS Frontline, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/etc/cron.html.
  • October 12, 2000: Suicide bombers driving an inflatable raft packed with explosives rammed into the USS Cole as it was mooring a U.S. Navy destroyer to a buoy in the Port of Aden, killing 17 U.S. servicemen and injuring at least 40. Both bombers were Yemenis, and six men were arrested in connection with the plot, including Saudi national Abdel Rahim al-Nashiri, who was reportedly al-Qaeda’s chief of naval operations in the Persian Gulf.“Suicide Bombers Attack USS Cole.”
  • September 11, 2001: 19 al-Qaeda operatives hijacked U.S. commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth hijacked airplane, whose target may have been the U.S. Capitol building, crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 civilians were killed and thousands more injured. The U.S. launched military operations against al-Qaeda’s suspected safe havens in Afghanistan six weeks later.“Timeline: Al-Qaeda,” BBC News, September 4, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3618762.stm.
  • December 23, 2001: British citizen Richard Reid was arrested after he tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami. Nicknamed the “Shoebomber,” Reid pledged his allegiance to Bin Laden during trial.“Timeline: Al-Qaeda,” BBC News, September 4, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3618762.stm.
  • January-February 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beaheaded in Pakistan while on assignment to interview a militant leader about his ties to Richard Reid.“U.S. Journalist Daniel Pearl is Dead, Officials Confirm,” CNN.com, February 22, 2002, http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/south/02/21/missing.reporter/.
  • April 11, 2002: Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a synagogue bombing in Djerba, Tunisia that killed 19 and injured 22.Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Terrorist Attacks by Al Qaeda,” Congressional Research Service, March 31, 2004, 4, http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/033104.pdf.
  • October 2002: Al-Qaeda reportedly carried out attacks on a French oil tanker in Yemen on October 6, killing 1. On October 8, the group claimed responsibility for attacking and killing two U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait. Then on October 12, the group claimed responsibility for bombing the Kuta Beach nightclub district of Bali, Indonesia, killing 202 and wounding hundreds more.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • November 28, 2002: Al-Qaeda bombed a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya that was owned and frequented by Israelis, killing 15 and wounding 40. Meanwhile, the group also tried but failed to shoot down an Israeli airliner with a surface-to-air missile as it took off from the airport in Mombasa.Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Terrorist Attacks by Al Qaeda,” Congressional Research Service, March 31, 2004, 4, http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/033104.pdf.
  • May 2003: On May 12, al-Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia attacked three Western housing compounds in Riyadh, killing 34 people. Four days later, on May 16, fourteen suicide bombers from al-Qaeda affiliate al-Salafiyyah al-Jihadiyah detonated 5 bombs in Casablanca, Morocco. The attacks killed 44 people, including 12 of the assailants, and wounded nearly 60.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • November 2003: On November 8, Suicide bombers driving vehicles disguised as police cars attacked another residential compound in Riyadh, killing 17 and injuring 122.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg. On November 15, two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey were bombed simultaneously by the al-Qaeda affiliated Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades. The bombings killed at least 29 people and wounded dozens more. Five days later, 32 people were killed when suicide bombers from the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front detonated trucks packed with explosives outside of HSBC bank and the British consulate in Istanbul.Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Terrorist Attacks by Al Qaeda,” Congressional Research Service, March 31, 2004, 4, http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/033104.pdf. The Saudi militant cell called itself al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).Ty McCormick, “Al Qaeda Core: A Short History,” Foreign Policy, March 17, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/17/al_qaeda_core_a_short_history.
  • March 11, 2004: Four rush-hour commuter trains in Madrid were bombed simultaneously, killing 191 and wounding more than 1,800. Police discovered that the bombs were hidden in backpacks and detonated remotely with mobile phones. Al-Qaeda claimed that the attacks were in retaliation for Spain’s troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spain indicted 29 people in the attacks, including 15 Moroccans, 9 Spaniards, 2 Syrians, one Egyptian, one Algerian, and one Lebanese.“The 2004 Madrid Bombings,” Guardian (London), October 31, 2007, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/oct/31/spain.menezes.
  • May 17, 2004: A suicide bomber with suspected ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi detonated himself near the U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad, killing the acting president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezzedine Salim. Salim’s death came 45 days before the occupation forces were set to transfer limited political control back to the Iraqis.Ian Fisher and Christine Hauser, “The Struggle for Iraq: Political Violence; Suicide Bomber Kills President of Iraqi Council,” New York Times, May 18, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/18/world/struggle-for-iraq-political-violence-suicide-bomber-kills-president-iraqi.html.
  • December 2004: On December 6, al-Qaeda launched an attack against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, killing 5 non-American employees. Then on December 29, militants attacked Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior in Riyadh. Saudi forces killed seven of the assailants.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • July 7, 2005: Suicide bombers attacked the London Underground railway and a civilian bus, killing 56 people in the worst terrorist attack in UK history. All four bombers were British nationals.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg. On July 21, four British nationals attempted to blow up three trains and a bus in London but the bombs did not detonate.“Al-Qaida Timeline: Plots and Attacks,” NBC News, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4677978/ns/world_news-hunt_for_al_qaida/t/al-qaida-timeline-plots-attacks/#.U4idFpwqRdg.
  • February 22, 2006: Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) bombed the Shiite Al Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, one of the four major Shiite shrines in Iraq and the burial place for two of the 12 revered Shiite Imams. Reportedly, “a group of men dressed like Iraqi police commandos” walked into the shrine and set off the explosions.Bill Roggio, “Dome of the Golden Mosque Destroyed,” Long War Journal, February 22, 2006, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2006/02/dome_of_the_golden_m_1.php#. The mosque attack set off a wave of intensified Shiite-Sunni attacks across Iraq.Robert F. Worth, “Blast Destroys Shrine in Iraq, Setting Off Sectarian Fury,” New York Times, February 22, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/22/international/middleeast/22cnd-iraq.html.
  • August 16, 2007: Suicide bombers from AQI simultaneously detonated five fuel trucks in the Yazidi Kurdish villages of al-Qataniyah and al-Adnaniyah, killing more than 300 Iraqis, injuring several hundred, and destroying dozens of homes. It was considered the worst terrorist attack in Iraq during the post-Saddamn era.Tim Butcher, “Iraq Bombs: 250 Die in Worst Terror Attack,” Daily Telegraph (London), August 16, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1560477/Iraq-bombs-250-die-in-worst-terror-attack.html.
  • September 2007: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) detonated a car bomb in the northern town of Dellys, killing 28 coast guard officers. Just days before, AQIM set off an explosion in a crowd that was waiting to greet Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.“Group with Ties to Al Qaeda Says It Was Behind Blasts in Algeria,” New York Times, September 10, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/world/africa/10algeria.html.
  • September 2009: Afghan native Najibullah Zazi, who spent time in an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan’s Waziristan region, was arrested for allegedly planning to detonate homemade explosives in New York City’s subway system to mark the anniversary of 9/11. Zazi pled guilty in February 2010 to three charges: conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to a terrorist organization.Julian Cummings, “Najibullah Zazi Pleads Guilty in New York Terrorism Plot,” CNN, February 23, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/22/najibullah.zazi.plea/.
  • December 25, 2009: Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear aboard a Northwest Airlines flight travelling from Amsterdam to Detroit, but was subdued by passengers after setting his pants on fire. Abdulmutallab allegedly received training and explosives from AQAP in Yemen.Dan Eggen, Karen DeYoung, and Spencer Hsu, “Plane Suspect Was Listed in Terror Database after Father Alerted U.S. Officials,” Washington Post, December 27, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/25/AR2009122501355.html.
  • November 2010: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attempted to mail bombs loaded in printer cartridges via UPS and FedEx to Jewish community centers in Chicago. The bombs made their way from Yemen to Britain and Dubai before a last minute tip from Saudi intelligence alerted officials in each country to the cargo and foiled the plot.Spencer Ackerman, “Qaeda: Yeah, the Printer-bomb Plot Was Us,” Wired, November 6, 2010, http://www.wired.com/2010/11/qaeda-yeah-the-printer-bomb-plot-was-us/.
  • May 2012: The Central Intelligence Agency and foreign intelligence services foiled an attempt by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to send a suicide bomber carrying an “experimental bomb aboard an airliner” travelling to the U.S.Scott Shane and Eric Schmitt, “Qaeda Plot to Attack Plane Foiled, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, May 7, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/world/middleeast/us-says-terrorist-plot-to-attack-plane-foiled.html.
  • September 11, 2012: Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia in Libya attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the Consulate.Karen DeYoung, Michael Birnbaum, and William Branigin, “U.S. Officials: Attack on Consulate in Libya May Have Been Planned,” Washington Post, September 12, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/news-agencies-us-ambassador-to-libya-killed-in-attack-outside-consulate/2012/09/12/665de5fc-fcc4-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_story.html.
  • January 23, 2013: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb seized control of a natural gas plant in eastern Algeria, tying up dozens of Western workers and planting explosives throughout the facility. After four days of negotiations failed, Algerian forces stormed the facility, killing and driving out the militant. However, at least 37 hostages died in the hostage crisis and ensuing assault.Amir Ahmed, “At Least 37 Hostages Killed in Algeria Gas Plant Standoff, Prime Minister Says,” CNN, January 23, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/21/world/africa/algeria-hostage-crisis/.
  • September 21, 2013: Reportedly, gunmen from Al-Shabaab opened fire on bystanders at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing more than 60 people during an 80-hour siege of the mall by Kenyan security forces.Mike Pflanz, “Nairobi’s Westgate Mall Attack: Six Months Later, Troubling Questions Weigh Heavily,” Christian Science Monitor, March 21, 2014, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2014/0321/Nairobi-s-Westgate-mall-attack-six-months-later-troubling-questions-weigh-heavily.
  • January-February 2014: Militants from Boko Haram in Nigeria staged numerous attacks on colleges and villages in Nigeria during the first two months of 2014, shooting and burning male students alive. According to estimates, the group murdered more than 200 students during a four-week span.Adam Nossiter, “Islamist Militants Blamed for Deadly College Attack in Nigeria,” New York Times, February 25, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/world/africa/dozens-killed-in-nigeria-school-assault-attributed-to-islamist-militant-group.html.
  • April 24, 2014: Two al-Qaeda gunmen try and fail to kidnap U.S. embassy staff in Sanaa, Yemen.JC Finley, “U.S. embassy employees repel AQAP kidnapping attempt in Yemen, killing 2 militants,” United Press International, May 12, 2014, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/05/12/US-embassy-employees-repel-AQAP-kidnapping-attempt-in-Yemen-killing-2-militants/4231399905320/.
  • September 17, 2014: Al-Qaeda’s new wing in South Asia hijacks a Pakistani naval ship, and tries to use it to launch rockets towards U.S. vessels.Maria Golovnina, “New al Qaeda wing in South Asia claims major attack,” Reuters, September 17, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/17/us-southasia-attacks-idUSKBN0HC0YS20140917.
  • October 20, 2014: Al-Qaeda suicide bombings and gun attacks kill at least 33 people in Yemen.Mohammed Ghobari, “Al Qaeda attacks kill at least 33 in Yemen,” Reuters, October 20, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/20/us-yemen-crisis-fighting-idUSKCN0I91PO20141020.
  • January 7, 2015: The perpetrators of the Paris attacks on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket claim that they received funding from AQAP. One of the two Kouachi brothers had previously trained with al-Qaeda in Yemen.Eric Schmitt, Michael S. Schmidt and Andrew Higgins, “Al Qaeda Trained Suspect in Paris Terror Attack, Official Says,” New York Times, January 8, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/world/europe/paris-terror-attack-suspects.html.
  • January 14, 2015: AQAP officially claims responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.Sami Aboudi, “Al Qaeda claims French attack, derides Paris rally,” Reuters, January 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/14/us-france-shooting-aqap-idUSKBN0KN0VO20150114.
  • February 12, 2015: AQAP militants seize a large army base in southern Yemen, just hours after the U.N. warns that the country is on the brink of civil war.Mohammad Mukhashaf, “Al Qaeda fighters seize Yemen army base, U.N. warns of civil war,” Reuters, February 12, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/12/us-yemen-security-idUSKBN0LG0VE20150212.
  • February 13, 2015: Al-Qaeda fighters attack a Yemeni prison, freeing six al-Qaeda militants.Jason Hanna and Hakim Almasmari, “Al Qaeda freed 6 inmates in Yemen prison attack, officials say,” CNN, February 13, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/13/world/yemen-unrest/.
  • February 25, 2015: The Guardian reports that Russian intelligence fears al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is planning attacks against European targets in the Mediterranean from North Africa with a “kamikaze” marine unit.Seumas Milne and Ewen MacAskill, “Al-Qaida Planning Kamikaze Attacks on Ships in Mediterranean, Cables Claim,” Guardian (London), February 25, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/25/al-qaida-planning-kamikaze-attacks-ships-mediterranean-russian-cables.
  • March 3, 2015: Five people are killed in an AQAP suicide attack on a Houthi outpost in central Yemen.“UPDATE 1-Five dead in Qaeda suicide attack on Houthis in central Yemen,” Reuters, March 3, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/03/yemen-security-idUSL5N0W551J20150303.
  • November 20, 2015: Al-Mourabitoun claims responsibility for a deadly gun and hostage attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, allegedly as part of a joint attack with al-Qaeda affiliate, AQIM. According to U.N. spokesman Olivier Salgado, 21 people were killed in the attack when gunmen stormed the hotel using counterfeit diplomatic license plates.Faith Karimi and Erin Burnett, “Mali hotel attack: Gunmen barged in, shot at 'anything that moved,'” CNN, November 22, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/21/africa/mali-hotel-attack/.
  • January 16, 2016: Al-Qaeda affiliate AQIM storms a hotel and nearby cafe in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, killing 28 and wounding dozens.“Why did Burkina Faso become al-Qaida’s latest target?” January 18, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/18/why-did-burkina-faso-become-al-qaidas-latest-target.
  • March 13, 2016: AQIM gunmen open fire at a beach resort in Grand-Bassam, a coastal town located 25 miles east of Abidjan. The attack—the first al-Qaeda attack in the country—leaves 19 people dead, including 16 civilians and three Ivorian soldiers. Among the killed are foreign citizens from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Cameroon.Joe Bavier, “Al Qaeda Gunmen Drank In Bar Before Unleashing Ivory Coast Attack,” Reuters, March 15, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ivorycoast-attack-idUSKCN0WF0L9;
    Elisée B., “Attaques Terroristes À Grand Bassam : Les Forces Ivoiriennes Et Françaises Sur Le Théâtre Des Opérations,” Abidjan.net, March 13, 2016, http://news.abidjan.net/h/584273.html;
    “After Ivory Coast Al Qaeda Attack, Is Senegal Next? Muslim Population, Unemployment Make Tourist Destination A Target,” International Business Times, March 17, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.com/after-ivory-coast-al-qaeda-attack-senegal-next-muslim-population-unemployment-make-2337915.

Designations

Designations by the U.S. Government:

October 8, 1999: The Department of State designates Al-Qa’ida (AQ) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).“Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, accessed March 12, 2015, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm. The Department of State designates Al-Qa’ida as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).“Sanctions List Search: Al-Qa’ida,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed March 15, 2015, https://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=545.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Treasury Department designates Al-Qa’ida as a Specially Designated Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224).“Sanctions List Search: Al-Qa’ida,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed March 15, 2015, https://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=545.  

In addition to designating hundreds of terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has formally designated dozens of Islamic charities and front companies tied to al-Qaeda.“FTO,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, accessed March 12, 2015, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Pages/protecting-fto.aspx.

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

Australia—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on October 21, 2002.“Listed Terrorist Organisations,” Australian Government, accessed February 19, 2015, http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/default.aspx. Canada—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on July 23, 2002.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, last modified March 24, 2014, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2004.
EU—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on May 27, 2002.Council of the European Union, “Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 of 27 May 2002,” Official Journal of the European Communities, May 27, 2002, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2002:139:0009:0022:EN:PDF. France—designated Al-Qaeda according to rule (CE) n° 881/2002 of May 27, 2002.“Liste terroriste unique,” Tresor Direction Generale, accessed March 12, 2015, http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/5563_liste-terroriste-unique.
India—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on April 9, 2002.“Centre Bans Al-Qaeda,” Hindu, April 9, 2002, http://www.thehindu.com/2002/04/09/stories/2002040903651100.htm. Israel—listed Al-Qaeda as an Unlawful organization on April 10, 2001.“List of Declarations and Orders—Unofficial Translation,” Ministry of Justice, February 20, 2013, http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/9C960928-70AB-428A-BCCC-2E6091F2BDE3/40880/impa_terror_eng_17012013.doc.
New Zealand—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on October 17, 2002.“Designated Individuals and Organisations,” New Zealand Police, February 10, 2015, http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/designated-entities-10-02-2015.pdf. United Arab Emirates—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization on November 15, 2014.“UAE lists scores of groups as ‘terrorists,’” Al Jazeera, November 16, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/11/uae-lists-scores-groups-as-terrorists-2014111517644316294.html.
United Nations—listed Osama bin Laden as a terrorist on October 15, 1999.“Resolution 1267 (1999),” United Nations Security Council, October 15, 1999, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1267%281999%29. United Kingdom—listed Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization in March 2001.“Proscribed Terrorist Organisations,” Home Office, last modified January 23, 2015, 6, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400902/Proscription-20150123.pdf.

Associations

Ties to Extremist Entities designated by the U.S. or foreign governments:

Khorsan
The terrorist cell exposed in September 2014 as “the Khorasan Group” is a conglomerate of al-Qaeda fighters integrated or fully embedded within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. President Obama introduced Khorasan to the American public as “seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria.”“Statement by the President on Airstrikes in Syria,” U.S. Department of State, September 23, 2014, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/232045.htm. Reports indicate that U.S. internal documents refer to the group as the Khorasan Shura,Zack Beauchamp, “Khorasan, Explained: Why the US Is Bombing an Al-Qaeda Group You’ve Never Heard Of,” Vox, September 26, 2014, http://www.vox.com/2014/9/26/6836491/khorasan-isis-syria-al-qaeda. essentially the leadership council of core al-Qaeda. Khorasan is considered by some to be a reallocation of a portion of al-Qaeda’s core leadership to Syria and, by others, to be an externally directed arm of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Both of these claims hold that Khorasan’s purpose is to recruit Western jihadists in Syria and redirect them to carrying out attacks against the U.S. and Europe.
Muslim Brotherhood
In response to Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video condemning the crackdown and saying, “We call on the people to put their revolution on the right track and undertake slogans calling for Islamic Sharia, the path of freedom, social justice and human dignity.”Adam Koppeser and AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah, “Al Qaeda Chief Declares Solidarity with Muslim Brotherhood, Urges Followers to Kidnap Westerners,” Daily News Egypt, April 27, 2014, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/04/27/al-qaeda-chief-declares-solidarity-muslim-brotherhood-urges-followers-kidnap-westerners/. The Egyptian outlet El-Watan has exposed conversations between Egypt’s former president and member of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s brother, Muhammad al-Zawahiri. According to these conversations, Morsi allegedly colluded with Zawahiri to release terrorists from Egyptian prisons in order to garner support for the Brotherhood.Ariel Ben Solomon, “Egyptian Reports Highlight Alleged Morsi-Al-Qaida Cooperation,” Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Egyptian-reports-highlight-alleged-Morsi-al-Qaida-cooperation-340556.
Hamas
In 2002, the Washington Post quoted official U.S. government sources as confirming a loose alliance “between al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizbullah.”Jonathan Schanzer, “The Hamas-Al Qaeda Alliance,” Weekly Standard, May 2, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hamas-al-qaeda-alliance_558605.html. In 2003, Israel arrested three Hamas fighters returning from al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.Jonathan Schanzer, “The Hamas-Al Qaeda Alliance,” Weekly Standard, May 2, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hamas-al-qaeda-alliance_558605.html. That same year, Jordanian security officials confirmed to Time that two Hamas members went on a recruiting mission in Afghanistan in the hopes of bringing al-Qaeda fighters back to the Palestinian territories.Jonathan Schanzer, “The Hamas-Al Qaeda Alliance,” Weekly Standard, May 2, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hamas-al-qaeda-alliance_558605.html.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the union of al-Qaeda’s branches in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. AQAP has carried out violent jihadist attacks both domestically and internationally in service of al-Qaeda’s ideology. AQAP is most known for its terrorist plots on U.S. soil, including the Christmas Day Bomber of 2009 and the Times Square Bomber of 2010, as well as its brutal war against the Yemeni government.
ISIS
ISIS was originally an al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq. Under al-Qaeda’s auspices from October 2004Ty McCormick, “Al Qaeda Core: A Short History,” Foreign Policy, March 17, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/17/al_qaeda_core_a_short_history; “Terrorist Organization Profile: al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers,” START: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, accessed March 16, 2015, http://www.start.umd.edu/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4416; “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant / al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI): ISIL – Early History,” GlobalSecurity.org, accessed March 16, 2015, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/aqi-2.htm. until February 2014, ISIS, formerly al-Qaeda in Iraq, was responsible for a score of terrorist bombings that resulted in the death of thousands. In February 2014, the two groups split over a leadership dispute when ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, refused to obey al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al-Shabab
Al-Shabab publicly praised al-Qaeda between 2006 and 2008, condemning U.S. oppression of Muslims worldwide. In 2010, the group announced that it sought to “connect the horn of Africa jihad to the one led by al-Qaeda.”Jonathan Masters, “Al-Shabab,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified September 5, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/somalia/al-shabab/p18650. Al-Shabab officially announced its union with al-Qaeda in February 2012. Following Godane’s death in September 2014, the group and its new leader reaffirmed the alignment.Reuters, “Al-Shabaab pledge allegiance to new leader,” Al Arabiya, September 8, 2014, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2014/09/08/Somalia-s-al-Shabaab-pledge-allegiance-to-new-leader.html.

 

Nusra Front
The Nusra Front has a long and proven history of serving as al-Qaeda’s loyal affiliate in Syria. In July 2016, however, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released an audio statement giving the Nusra Front formal permission to break ties with al-Qaeda if the link was “conflicting with [the Nusra Front’s] unity and working as one body.”Reuters, “Al Qaeda tells Syrian branch Nusra Front it can drop links,” Thomas Reuters Foundation News, July 28, 2016, http://news.trust.org/item/20160728110801-ogl17. Hours later, Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Golani formally severed ties with al-Qaeda’s central command.Orient News, “Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed Joulani commander officially announced the disengagement from al-Qaeda and the establishment of a new entity,” YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oossAtDYbrs; Dania Akkad, “Nusra confirms split with al-Qaeda ‘to protect the Syrian revolution,’” Middle East Eye, July 28, 2016, http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/nusra-front-announces-official-split-al-qaeda-520293064. Analysts have long surmised that a formal, or at least artificial, break from al-Qaeda could allow the Nusra Front the opportunity to attract more funding from Gulf states, consolidate local support, and present itself as a legitimate insurgent group in Syria.Bassem Mroue, “AP EXPLAINS: Why Syria’s al-Qaida may be considering a split,” Associated Press, July 27, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d10d759d35824b70b47501d85f0ff8c3/ap-explains-why-syrias-al-qaida-may-be-considering-split; Reuters, “Al Qaeda tells Syrian branch Nusra Front it can drop links,” Thomas Reuters Foundation News, July 28, 2016, http://news.trust.org/item/20160728110801-ogl17. Even as the Nusra Front formally declared its independence from al-Qaeda, the group thanked al-Qaeda’s leadership for giving “priority to the interests of the people of Al-Sham, their Jihad, [and] their revolution.”Orient News, “Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed Joulani commander officially announced the disengagement from al-Qaeda and the establishment of a new entity,” YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oossAtDYbrs.
For years before the announcement, the Nusra Front had reaffirmed its allegiance to al-Zawahiri, even in the face of competing claims to its leadership. In April 2013, after al-Baghdadi unilaterally claimed that the Nusra Front answered to his al-Qaeda in Iraq group (now ISIS), Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Golani broke ties with ISIS and affirmed its allegiance to al-Qaeda central.“Syria Crisis: Al-Nusra Pledges Allegiance to Al-Qaeda,” BBC News, April 10, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22095099.
 

Ties to Prominent Figures:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accused of aiding al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Erdoğan also has a history of defending Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi national designated by the U.S. as a terrorist for his funding of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.Richard C. Morais and Denet C. Tezel, “The Al Qadi Affair,” Forbes, January 4, 2008, http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/24/turkey-yasin-al-qadi-biz-cz_rm_0124alqadi.html. Photos leaked to the Turkish media reveal that Erdoğan’s son met illicitly with al-Qadi.Thomas Seibert, “Turkish PM Erdogan Hit by Allegations of Son’s Meeting with ‘Al Qaeda Financier’,” National (Abu Dhabi), Januar y 6, 2014, http://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/turkish-pm-erdogan-hit-by-allegations-of-sons-meeting-with-0al-qaeda-financier.
Qatari Ministry of Interior Official: Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari
Qatar employed al-Qaeda financier Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari despite his designation as a terrorist by the United States. Al-Kuwari has channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to al-Qaeda.Robert Mendick, “Al Qaeda Terror Financier Worked for Qatari Government,” Daily Telegraph (London), October 12, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/11156327/Al-Qaeda-terror-financier-worked-for-Qatari-government.html.

Media Coverage

Rhetoric

View All

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda Leader, Sep. 9, 2016

We mark in these days the passage of nearly 15 years since the blessed invasions in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania.

Hamza bin Laden

“[Mulsims should] participate in the intifada” by “killing the Jews and attacking their interests everywhere”“Bin Laden’s son urges jihad Against Jews, US interests,” Fox News, May 9, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/05/09/bin-ladens-son-urges-jihad-against-jews-us-interests.html.

Abu Sulayman, May 8, 2015

“Jihad is not in need of us, we are in dire need of jihad.”Mark Schliebs, “Top Aussie terrorist warns of ‘perpetual war’ on Twitter,” Australian (Surry Hills), May 14, 2015, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/top-aussie-terrorist-warns-of-perpetual-war-on-twitter/story-fnpdbcmu-1227354039977.

Abu Qatada, May 2015

“The act of jihad is what can help us reach our goals and defeat the circles of apostasy.”Ali Hashem, “Al-Qaeda theorist calls for infiltrating political systems,” Al-Monitor, May 29, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/05/al-qaeda-political-system-infiltration.html.

Abu Sulayman, May 2015

“I do believe that our affiliation with a global jihad (al-Qa’ida) is more positive than negative.”Mark Schliebs, “Top Aussie terrorist warns of ‘perpetual war’ on Twitter,” Australian (Surry Hills), May 14, 2015, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/top-aussie-terrorist-warns-of-perpetual-war-on-twitter/story-fnpdbcmu-1227354039977.

Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan a.k.a. Mujahid Miski, Tweet, April 28, 2015

“Don’t buy into the Martin story. This man never gave u freedom. Just mental slavery. #BaltimoreRiots #YouNeedShariah.” (Tweet)“ISIS Fighters, Supporters Hijack #BaltimoreRiots Twitter Hashtag, Discuss Race Issues, Urge Attacks On Policemen,” Middle East Media Research Institute, April 28, 2015, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8541.htm#_edn13.

Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan a.k.a. Mujahid Miski, Tweet, April 28, 2015

“One individual is able to put a whole nation onto it’s [sic] knees.” (Tweet)Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, Randy Kreider, and James Gordon Meek, “The American Terror Recruiter’s Link to Texas Shooting,” ABC News, May 5, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/US/american-terror-recruiters-link-texas-shooting/story?id=30827653.

Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan a.k.a. Mujahid Miski, Tweet, April 23, 2015

“If only we had men like these brothers in the #States, our beloved Muhammad would not have been drawn.” (Tweet) Tim Lister, “The cheerleaders and the freelancers: the new actors in international terrorism,” CNN, May 7, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/07/world/cheerleader-freelancer-terror/.

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