Al-Qaeda (/ælˈkdə, ˌælkɑːˈdə/; Arabic: القاعدة al-Qāʿidah, IPA: [ælqɑːʕɪdɐ], translation: 'the Base', 'the Foundation', alternatively spelled al-Qaida and al-Qa'ida) is a militant Sunni Islamist[12] multi-national terrorist organization.[6] It was founded in 1988[44] by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam,[45] and several other Arab volunteers during the Soviet–Afghan War.[14]

LeadersOsama bin Laden  (1988–2011)
Ayman al-Zawahiri (2011–present)
Dates of operation1988–present
Active regions
AlliesState allies:

alleged but not proven

Non-state allies:

OpponentsState opponents:

Non-state opponents:

Battles and warsWar on Terror

In Afghanistan

In Tajikistan

In Chechnya

In Yemen

In the Maghreb

In Iraq

In Pakistan

In Somalia

In Syria

In Egypt

Designated as a terrorist group bySee below

Al-Qaeda operates as a network of Islamic extremists and Salafist jihadists. The organization has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Russia, India, and various other countries (see below). Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on non-military and military targets in various countries, including the 1998 United States embassy bombings, the September 11 attacks, and the 2002 Bali bombings.[6]

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 which are carried out by a loose network of associated groups and lone-wolf operators. Al-Qaeda characteristically organises attacks which include suicide attacks and the simultaneous bombing of several targets.[46] Al-Qaeda ideologues envision the violent removal of all foreign and secular influences in Muslim countries; of which it perceives as corrupt deviations.[8][47][48][49]

Al-Qaeda members believe a Christian–Jewish alliance (led by the United States) is conspiring to be at war against Islam and destroy Islam.[50][51] 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 sharia (Islamic religious law which is perceived as divine law).[52]

Al-Qaeda has carried out many attacks on people whom it considers kafir.[53] It is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims.[54] Al-Qaeda regards liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretical and its members and sympathizers have attacked their mosques and gatherings.[55] 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.[56]

Following the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the group has been led by Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, and as of 2021 has reportedly suffered from a deterioration of central command over its regional operations.[57]