OSINT – Al-Qaeda Central

Also Known As: AQ; Al-Qa’ida; al-Qa’eda; Qa’idat al-Jihad (The Base for Jihad); formerly Qa’idat Ansar Allah (The Base of the Supporters of God); the Islamic Army; Islamic Salvation Foundation; The Base; The Group for the Preservation of the Holy Sites; The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places; the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; the Usama Bin Laden Network; the Usama Bin Laden Organization; al-Jihad; the Jihad Group; Egyptian al-Jihad; Egyptian Islamic Jihad; New Jihad

Description: Al-Qaeda was an international Islamic extremist terrorist organization. “The Base” was founded by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri after the routing of Soviets from Afghanistan in 1988. The United States designated AQ as a FTO on October 8, 1999, following an AQ declaration of war in 1998 for violating Muslim holy lands because of the deployment of American personnel in Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf War. Osama Bin Laden was killed by DEVGRU personnel on May 2, 2011, and Al-Zawahiri took over the organization.

Targets: Key targets of the AQ include Western (the ‘far’ enemy) and secular Muslim (the ‘near’ enemy) military, civic, and citizens members.

Activities: The Taliban has executed numerous attacks against its targets, with an emphasis on high profile bombings. Key pre-9/11 attacks included the 1998 Embassy Bombings and the 2000 U.S.S. Cole Bombing. During the 9/11 attacks, 19 AQ operatives crashed 4 planes into American targets, including the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, killing around 3,000 Americans. Major foreign attacks included the 3/11 Madrid Training Bombing 7/7 Bus Bombings in the U.K. Major thwarted attacks included the attempted shoe bombing, underwear bombing, and ink canister bombing.

Diplomacy: Al-Qaeda has spawned numerous regional sects, including AQAP, AQIM, AQI, and Al-Shabaab. Al-Qaeda has been known to promote best practices with other Islamic extremist groups.

Strength:  Cadre is estimated to be severely degraded, with a number of a few hundred. Regional affiliates and like-minded persons number in the tens of thousands.

AO: Global regional affiliates, centralized on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Funding and External Aid: Al-Qaeda is primarily funded by donations from like-minded persons from the Middle East.

Al-Qaeda Global Map, courtesy of the Economist.

Al-Qaeda Global Map, courtesy of the Economist.

Local Media:

Afghan Islamic Press. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 4, 2015.

Afghanistan Times. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 4, 2015.

Associated Press of Pakistan. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

Bakhtar News. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 4, 2015.

Daily Times. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

Dawn. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

The Friday Times. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

The Frontier Post. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

Khaama Press. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 4, 2015.

The Nation. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed November 25, 2014.

The News International. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed  November 25, 2014.

Pajhwok. Al-Qaeda.” November 25, 2014.

Tolo. Al-Qaeda.” November 25, 2014.

Global Media:

Al Jazeera. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

BBC. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

CNN. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Foreign Affairs. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Foreign Policy. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

The Guardian. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

NPR. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

NYT. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Reuters. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

VICE News. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

VOA. Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

WaPo. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Think Tanks / Academic:

AEI. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Brookings. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

CFR. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda-Affiliated Groups: Middle East and Africa.” October 10, 2014. Accessed December 26, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy.” Accessed December 26, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment.” August 17, 2005. Accessed January 5, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology.” July 9, 2007. Accessed January 5, 2014.

CSIS. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

CTC. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

FAS. “al-Qa’ida (The Base).” Accessed January 5, 2014.

ICG. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

ISW. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Jihadology. “Al-Qa’idah.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

SITE. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Stanford University. “Al-Qaeda.” Mapping Militant Organizations. Accessed January 5, 2014.

TRAC. “Al-Qaeda Central.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

Government:

Defense Department. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

DIA. “Annual Threat Assessment.” February 11, 2014.

NCTC. “Al-Qa‘ida.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

State Department. “Al-Qaeda.” Accessed January 5, 2014.

State Department. “Al-Qa’ida.” Chapter 6: Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.

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