Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda (/ælˈkdə, ˌælkɑːˈdə/; Arabic: القاعدة, romanized: al-Qāʿidah, IPA: [ælqɑːʕɪdɐ], lit.'the Base' or 'the Foundation', alternatively spelled al-Qaida and al-Qa'ida), officially known as Qaedat al-Jihad[55] (lit.'Base of Jihad'), is a multinational militant Sunni Islamic extremist network composed of Salafist jihadists.[7][8][9] Its members are mostly composed of Arabs, but may also include other peoples.[56] Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military targets in various countries, including the 1998 United States embassy bombings, the September 11 attacks, and the 2002 Bali bombings;[5] it has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council,[57] the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, India, and various other countries.

Al-Qaeda
القاعدة
Leaders
Dates of operation11 August 1988–present
Group(s)
 
Active regions
  • Worldwide
Ideology
Size
 
Allies
Opponents
 
Battles and wars
Designated as a terrorist group bySee below

The network was founded in 1988[58] by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam,[59] and other Arab volunteers during the Soviet–Afghan War.[21] After fighting the "holy" war, the group aimed to expand such operations to other parts of the world, setting up bases in parts of Africa, the Arab world and elsewhere,[60] carrying out many attacks on people whom it considers kāfir.[61]

Al-Qaeda members believe a Christian-Jewish alliance (led by the United States) is conspiring to be at war against Islam and destroy Islam.[62][63] As Salafist jihadists, members of al-Qaeda believe that killing non-combatants is religiously sanctioned. Al-Qaeda also opposes what it regards as man-made laws, and wants to replace them exclusively with a strict form of sharīʿa (Islamic religious law, which is perceived as divine law).[64] It is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims.[65] Al-Qaeda regards liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis, and other Islamic sects as heretical and its members and sympathizers have attacked their mosques, shrines, and gatherings.[66] Examples of sectarian attacks include the 2004 Ashoura massacre, the 2006 Sadr City bombings, the April 2007 Baghdad bombings, and the 2007 Yazidi community bombings.[67]

The United States government responded to the September 11 attacks by launching the "war on terror", which sought to undermine al-Qaeda and its allies. The deaths of key leaders, including that of Osama bin Laden, have led al-Qaeda's operations to shift from top-down organization and planning of attacks, to the planning of attacks carried out by a loose network of associated groups and lone-wolf operators. Al-Qaeda characteristically organizes attacks including suicide attacks and simultaneous bombing of several targets.[68] Al-Qaeda ideologues envision the violent removal of all foreign and secular influences in Muslim countries, which it perceives as corrupt deviations.[12][69][70][71] Following the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the group was led by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri until his death in 2022. As of 2021, it has reportedly suffered from a deterioration of central command over its regional operations.[72]


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