Perhaps the most infamous of all militant Islamic organizations is al-Qaeda. This is the group responsible for planning the savage attacks on US soil on September the 11th, 2001. As an organization, al-Qaeda is relatively new. It was not formed until sometime in late 1988 or early 1989. Unlike many other organizations, al-Qaeda is largely Sunni, though fundamentalist in nature.
There are several distinctive factors concerning al-Qaeda that differentiates them from other terror organizations. These include the following: The armed forces deployed by al-Qaeda are "stateless." That is, they owe allegiance to no nation, and they are drawn from many different nations around the globe. Al-Qaeda operatives believe fully in the need for a global jihad, or holy war. This war will drive the infidels from the earth (the West and Western adherents) and result in a rectified Muslim world. It has been found that al-Qaeda has a network with tendrils in almost all nations in the world. This allows the terror organization to carry out very quick attacks with little obvious preparation. It also allows them to circumvent the standard problems that occur with a standing national army attacking across national borders.
Al-Qaeda uses many different types of operatives, as well, including those who have sworn an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and those operatives who are not bound by an oath, but still connected to the organization. Terror tactics of al-Qaeda are relatively well known, and take several different forms. However, two of these are the most notable:
Al-Qaeda, like most other extremist Islamic groups, makes use of suicide attacks to a considerable extent. All of the attacks on September 11th were suicide attacks. However, the group has used this tactic on all of its fronts previously, including in Afghanistan and other areas. Simultaneous Bombings are one of the most terrifying capabilities of the group. The fact that they are able to organize and orchestrate simultaneous bombings of different targets in different locations gives the group a psychological edge in many instances. For instance, the concerted attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania are examples of this capability. Using this tactic makes the group seem more widespread, more powerful and more threatening, all of which are essential to creating terror and fear.
Al-Qaeda treats their efforts as a global initiative. The group is active in numerous different areas, including Africa, in Europe, in the Middle East and even in Kashmir, a small, contested area between Pakistan and India. Unlike other terror groups, al-Qaeda has made tremendous use of the Internet in their efforts. In fact, they use the Internet for any number of different purposes. While international support and approval for al-Qaeda has waned in recent years, the group is still active and still pursues its goals.
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