The terrorist group al-Qaeda may not have been known if not for the heinous attacks they committed against America in 2001 but al-Qaeda has been around long before the said attacks on 2001 even took place. Al-Qaeda was founded by the wealthy Saudi sheikh Osama bin Laden in 1988 and ran it until his death in 2011 (Zimmerman, 2013). Al-Qaeda under the leadership of bin Laden actually planned to attack USA—a threat that was not sufficiently addressed until the bombing attacks in 2001 (Zimmerman, 2013). Al-Qaeda functions as a network with bases in different countries within the Middle East, and even South, Asia (Zimmerman, 2013). As a large terrorist organization, al-Qaeda is said to be composed mainly of “a core group of senior leaders directing a global network to an amorphous group of individuals driving toward a shared objective” (Zimmerman, 2013, p. 5). Al-Qaeda is considered as both an independent group and the head of other terrorist organizations which work for the same cause (Zimmerman, 2013). As with most cases of Islamist terrorism, the main goal is always to invade non-Muslim countries, particularly the Western, to spread Islam (Matusitz, 2013). In accordance to the religious laws followed by Muslims, terrorism and killing in the name of Islam are actually deemed right and applicable (Matusitz, 2013).
Following the attack on World Trade Center of America in 2001, the strength and severity of the problem regarding the terrorist group al-Qaeda have been more emphasized and realized. As a response, GWOT or Global War on Terror was declared by Pres. George W. Bush (Matusitz, 2013). GWOT became the “most all-encompassing counterterrorist campaign in history since the fall of the Berlin Wall” (Matusitz, 2013, p. 10). However, GWOT did not reduce the incidences of terrorist attacks but increased them instead. Since its declaration, terrorist attacks significantly increased in USA from 1,732 in 2001 to 4,995 in 2005 and 6,659 in 2006 (Matusitz, 2013). Counterterrorist attempts have been continuously devised from all over the world, but the continuing activity of al-Qaeda is a mere representation that no single counterterrorist strategy ever devised has been successful, particularly in combating the forces of al-Qaeda.
As suggested by many literatures that cover the topic of terrorism by al-Qaeda, an in-depth understanding of the goals that fuel the terrorist attacks of Muslims is substantially necessary (Bennett, 2013; Zimmerman, 2013). An understanding of Islam and of the religious concepts that govern the violent activities of Islamist terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda, is also a requirement as any counterterrorist strategies that fail to see the core of the problem can never be successful in its endeavors (Bennett, 2013). Understanding the principles that encompass the movements of Islamist terrorist groups and their perception of terrorism is a way to fully understand the structure of their organizations and the effective ways to combat them in cases where peaceful arrangements cannot be made.
Bennett, A.M. (2013). Islamic History and Al-Qaeda: A Primer to Understanding the Rise of Islamist Movements in the Modern World. Pace International Law Review Companion, 3(10), 316-370. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1035&context=pilronline
Matusitz, J. (2013). What is Terrorism. In Terrorism and Communication: A Critical Introduction (pp. 1-31). Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/51172_ch_1.pdf
Zimmerman, K. (2013, September). The al-Qaeda network: A new framework for defining the enemy. Retrieved from http://www.aei.org/files/2013/09/10/-the-al-qaeda-network-a-new-framework-for-defining-the-enemy_133443407958.pdf