Information on Al-Qaeda

Al Qaeda


* In approximately 1989, bin Laden and co-defendant Muhammad Atef founded "al Qaeda," " an international terrorist group ... which was dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence."

* "One of the principal goals of al Qaeda was to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere on the Saudi Arabian peninsula) and Somalia by violence."

* "Al Qaeda had a command and control structure which included a majlis al shura (or consultation council) which discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations." Both Atef and bin Laden sat on this council.

* Al Qaeda had ties to other "terrorist organizations that operated under its umbrella," including: the al Jihad group based in Egypt, the Islamic Group, formerly led by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and other jihad groups in other countries. "Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hezballah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States."

Count One: Conspiracy to Kill United States Nationals............................-------------------------------

* The named defendants, plus other members of al Qaeda, "conspired, confederated and agreed to kill nationals of the United States." In furtherance of this conspiracy,

* Bin Laden and others "provided training camps and guesthouses in various areas, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Kenya for the use of al Qaeda and its affiliated groups,"

* Bin Laden and others provided currency and weapons to members of al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups in various countries throughout the world.

* Bin Laden established a headquarters for al Qaeda in Khartoum, Sudan in 1991, and established a series of businesses, including two investment companies, an agricultural company, a construction business and a transportation company, all of which were, "operated to provide income and support to al Qaeda and to provide cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons and chemicals and for the travel of al Qaeda operatives."

* Bin Laden issued a number of fatwahs (rulings on Islamic law) stating that US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, should be attacked.

* Al Qaeda members "provided military training and assistance to Somali tribes opposed to the United Nations' intervention in Somalia. ... On October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, persons who had been trained by al Qaeda (and trainers who had been trained by al Qaeda) participated in an attack on United States military personnel serving in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope, which attack resulted in the killing of 18 United States Army personnel.

* Bin Laden and others attempted to procure components of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Count Two: Bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya...........................

Defendants bin Laden, Atef, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Odeh, together with other members of Al Qaeda "detonated an explosive device that damaged and destroyed the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and ... directly .. caused the deaths of at least 213 persons, including Kenyan and American citizens."

Count Three: Bombing of the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania...........................

 Defendants bin Laden, Atef, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Odeh, al-'Owhali. Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, together with other members of Al Qaeda "detonated an explosive device that damaged and destroyed the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and ... directly .. caused the deaths of at least 11 persons, including Tanzanian citizens."


In his interview with FRONTLINE, Saudi dissident Saad Al-Fagih challenges the U.S. government's characterization of Al Qaeda.


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During the 1980s, resistance fighters in Afghanistan developed a world-wide recruitment and support network with the aid of the USA, Saudi Arabia and other states. After the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, this network, which equipped, trained and funded thousands of Muslim fighters, came under the control of Osama bin Laden. In light of evidence from the recently completed US embassy bombing trials, Phil Hirschkorn, Rohan Gunaratna, Ed Blanche, and Stefan Leader examine the genesis, operational methods and organisational structure of the Bin Laden network: Al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda ('The Base') is a conglomerate of groups spread throughout the world operating as a network. It has a global reach, with a presence in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Xinjiang in China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Mindanao in the Philippines, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Dagestan, Kashmir, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Uganda, Ethiopia, and in the West Bank and Gaza.

Since its creation in 1988, Osama bin Laden has controlled Al-Qaeda. As such, he is both the backbone and the principal driving force behind the network. . . .

. . . Vertically, Al-Qaeda is organised with Bin Laden, the emir-general, at the top, followed by other Al-Qaeda leaders and leaders of the constituent groups. Horizontally, it is integrated with 24 constituent groups. The vertical integration is formal, the horizontal integration, informal. Immediately below Bin Laden is the Shura majlis, a consultative council. Four committees - military, religio-legal, finance, and media - report to the majlis. Handpicked members of these committees - especially the military committee - conduct special assignments for Bin Laden and his operational commanders. To preserve operational effectiveness at all levels, compartmentalisation and secrecy are paramount.

While the organisation has evolved considerably since the embassy bombings, the basic structure of the consultative council and the four committees remains intact. Bin Laden's intention to expand his operations has been curbed by the post-bombing security environment, and both Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda have become increasingly clandestine.

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Other sections in this report cover the following:

  • Al-Qaeda's structure and organization
  • The background to Al-Qaeda's formation (and the rise of Osama bin Laden)
  • The ideology behind Al-Qaeda
  • Sources of support for Al-Qaeda
  • Al-Qaeda's modus operandi
  • The international response to Al-Qaeda.
  • The reasons for Al-Qaeda's resilience
  • Al-Qaeda's business empire 


    bin Laden has controlled Al-Qaeda since its creation in 1988.
    (Source: PA News)