A statement by Al-Qaeda in the guise of “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusades” in February 1998 said it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens and their allies everywhere.
Qaeda-ul-Jihad is a Sunni Islamic extremist group established in the 1990s during the Soviet-Afghan War. Al-Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden, his close associates, Arabs, and other foreign affiliate Muslim groups for an active revolt against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, as an Islamist organization, established its headquarters in the early 1990s in Sudan, was revived later in Afghanistan, and has camps in several other countries.
The group strongly aimed to support Islamic causes in conflict and defend Muslims from foreign occupying powers. The rise of desperation among the hundreds of people in the Middle East and South Asia because of missile attacks, killing ordinary citizens, The organization obtains worldwide access by providing millions to fund logistics, militant training, and tactical abilities for jihadists. The Muslim Jihadist group declared a holy war against the West, primarily targeting the United States, where the first Gulf War and drone attacks became the catalyst.
Al-Qaeda conducted attacks in series, including a bombing in 1992 at a hotel in Yemen that was claimed later by Laden and a truck bombing in 1993 in the underground garage of the World Trade Center by Ramzi Yousef (who had trained under Al-Qaida’s camp). Simultaneously, in August 1998, attacks on American Embassies in Kenya, Nairobi, Dar es Salam, and Tanzania, killed 224 people and left more than 5000 injured. Furthermore, the successful bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer with the U.S. Cole’s bombing in October 2000, killed 17 sailors.
In 1999, Al-Qaeda was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Counterterrorism (CT) operation conducted by the U.S. In June 2001, the group merged with Egypt’s Al-Jihad.
In the most destructive attack on September 11, 2001, four U.S. Jet Airlines hijacked and crashed—two into the Twin Towers, destroying the World Trade Center in New York City, the third strike into the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed in the field of Pennsylvania, killing 3000 people overnight.
President Bush announced the War on Terror while addressing Congress on September 20, 2001, saying, “Our war and terror begin with Al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”
Laden became the most wanted man after 9/11 and the U.S. Naval SEALs took ten years to trace and kill him in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 20011. Elliott Abrams said, “Bin Laden’s death helps the drive for democracy in the Middle East and weakens the influence of Al-Qaeda in the Arab world.” Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian deputy of Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the bus bombing in the United Kingdom in July 2005. Al-Zawahiri, one of the masterminds behind 9/11 and several other attacks, became Laden’s successor. But the failure to attack inside America seemed to downplay Al-Zawahiri as compared to Osama bin Laden’s Charismatic.
The United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003 increased the affiliate group of Al Qaeda in the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the first affiliate group of Al-Qaeda by Abu-Musab al Zarqawi in 2004, was later renamed Islamic States of Iraq (ISI) in 2006. In 2011, ISI further expanded to Syria and declared it a Caliphate Islamic State. In 2009, scattered cells of an Arabian group united with Yemeni AQ and were designated as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This AQ affiliate group conducted several attacks in the United States and Europe and is considered the most dangerous group. Similarly, AL-Shabab, an AQ-affiliated Somali group, was declared an FTO in 2008 by the US. Al-Shabaab carried out attacks against foreign and domestic strategies in Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, and Djibouti. The group was recently declared the most wealthy, dangerous, and large affiliate of AQ because of a lack of CT oppression.
Moreover, other groups attracted and pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2006–2007. In 2011, AQIM further expanded and shifted southward and eastward and highly aimed to remove the Western influence on North Africa.
Group for Supporting Islam and Muslims, or JNIM, unites AQIM’s Sahel, Male, and Burkina Faso bases with several groups. JNIM was declared as FTO in 2018 and worked vigorously in Burkina Faso, Mali, and spread to West Africa. Nasura, a Nigeria-based group declared as an alias to AQIM.
Furthermore, the Nasura Front operating in Syria is considered an ally of ISI and was designated by the State Department in 2012. The powerful group working actively in Syria further merged with another Syrian bloc, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS). The CT actions diminish the work and further rise of AQ or any other group in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The death of two devoted leaders, Nasir al-Wahishi and Abu Khalil al-Sudani in 2015, took the edge off the organization’s functioning.
Moreover, the AQ leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was killed by a drone strike in a counterterrorism operation in Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. Intelligence reported on August 2, 2022, “We are confident through our intelligence sources and methods that we killed Zawahiri and no other individual.”
Zawahiri, while bin Laden’s deputy was a mastermind in planning bombing attacks including 9/11, the Cole attack in Yemen, the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and the UK bus bombing. Biden, in a statement, said, “He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American diplomats, and American interests. “Since Bin Laden’s death, Zawahiri was the only causality in raising and coordinating al-Qaeda’s network widely.
On hosting Zawahiri in Afghanistan’s territory, Secretary of State Anatomy Blinken stated, “By hosting and sheltering the leader of Al-Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by the terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.”
The AQ, along with affiliate groups, have striking impacts on the West. All the terrorist attacks, plane hijackings, and suicide bombings brought devastation and mass killings on a large scale. But the death of astute leaders of AQ, counterterrorism operations, and funding pressure are crippling the tactical abilities of Al-Qaeda.