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Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has become a powerful and frightening terrorist organization, creating havoc in the lives of the people of the United States, our military and many other world-wide targets. Led by Osama Bin Ladin the organization has become a force to be reckoned with. The very name inspires fear in all of us and has changed our world and our lives as we once knew them.
Al-Qaeda originated during the of the Afghanistan resistance to the invasion by the Soviet Union which occurred from 1979 to 1989. It was established in the late 1980’s by Osama Bin Laden to help those who had fought against the Soviet Union. This organization is a radical Islamic group actually founded somewhere between August 1988 and late 1989. (1) The group is a large and complex network involving many countries and a radical Sunni Muslim Organization. .After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was pretty much ungoverned for seven years. During this time, the country was plagued by constant fighting among different groups within their borders. Because of the invasion, there were many orphans, poverty and discontent. Many of the affected orphans were being provided an education in Islamic schools and this contributed to the growth of radical students and followers of what would become Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda is considered by most of the world to be a total terrorist organization. The people and the government of Afghanistan viewed the invasion by the Soviet Union as a holy battle over Islam and viewed the problem as a direct war on not only the government but their religion. Afghanistan wanted to end this war and was working on ways to accomplish the task. Lacking in manpower, money and supplies to help overcome the major obstacles, they began to look at other methods. It was during this time that they began to recruit Osama Bin Laden to head the Al-Qaeda movement. Bin Laden was the son of a wealthy Saudi contractor and therefore had access to large amounts of money, prestigious followers and other needed tools and materials. The beginnings of this movement were under the leadership of the Taliban and were eventually totally led by Osama Bin Laden and his chosen advisors and leaders.
Osama Bin Laden joined forces with Sheikh Addullas Azzam, leader of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. Together with Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden ran one of seven main militias involved in the fighting. Together with the consent and encouragement of the Afghanistan government, they formed the Afghan Services Bureau. This was done in order to provide a support network that provided recruits and money through worldwide centers, including in the U.S. This organization is also known as the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK).(2) All of these efforts were put in place in order to help fight and win the holy war.
Bin Laden continued to recruit leaders and potential fighters. He provided funds and is personally responsible for setting up numerous training camps. These training centers are located at various locations throughout Afghanistan, as well as in other countries. The land and various other resources have been provided by the Afghans. Bin Laden also established businesses, an airport and paved roads leading into Afghanistan. The funding and building of these projects and camps, has helped to supply many holy workers with jobs and much needed income. He created lucrative positions, providing needed infrastructure and gained the trust of many potential trainees and followers.
Eventually, Bin Ladin and Azzam began to have differing opinions concerning Al-Qaeda and the goals of the organization. In 1988, they parted company and dissolved their partnership. At this time Osama formed the existing Al Qaeda as we know it today. At this point in time he declared his own jihad on a worldwide scale. Jihad., according to Wikipedia ” is an Islamic term, meaning a religious duty of Muslim. In Arabic, the word jihÄd translates as a noun meaning “struggle”. Jihad appears 41 times in the Koran and frequently in the idiomatic expression “striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah,” Azzam died in a car bombing in 1989 and his death was blamed on an attack by rivals forces in Afghanistan.
After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to combat what he saw as an infidel Saudi Government. After the war, bin Laden was touted as a hero in Afghanistan as well as in his homeland. He returned to Saudi Arabia to work for the Binladin Group, but he remained preoccupied with extremist religious politics. Now it was his homeland that concerned him. Bin Laden, further angered by the United States presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, became even more outspoken. Bin Laden, along with his immediate family and his loyal band of followers
moved to Sudan. In 1994, the Saudi government revoked Bin Laden’s citizenship for his opposition to the Saudi government . This move however did not change or affect the growth and presence of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
As the Sudanese relations with the United Stated improved in 1996, the government of Sudan asked Bin Laden to leave the country. That same year, bin Laden openly declared war on America, calling upon his followers to expel Americans and Jews from all Muslim lands. Several months after being expelled from the Sudan, bin Laden issues his “Declaration of War Against the Americans Who Occupy the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.” he called for “fast-moving, light forces that work under complete secrecy
Interviewed by Cable News Network (CNN) in 1997, bin Laden said, “[The United States] has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous, and criminal, whether directly or
through its support of the Israeli occupation.”(5) The following year he issued an edict evoking even stronger language: “We – with God’s help – call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.” (6)
Enraged, Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan where he established his ties with the Taliban movement. In Afghanistan, Bin Laden established numerous training camps and a terrorist infrastructure. After moving to Afghanistan, bin Laden escalated his anti-American rhetoric. In an interview with the Independent in July 1996, bin Laden praised the Riyadh and Dhahram attacks on U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, saying it marked “the beginning of war between Muslims and the United States.” He did not take responsibility for the attacks, but said that “not long ago, I gave advice to the Americans to withdraw their troops from Saudi Arabia.” On August 23, 1996, bin Laden issued Al Qaeda’s first “declaration of war” against America, his “Message from Osama bin Laden to his Muslim brothers in the whole world and especially in the Arabian Peninsula: declaration of jihad against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques (Saudi Arabia); expel the heretics from the AraThis infrastructure supported a number of plots against the United States and its citizens. These plots included the bombings of the African Embassies in 1998 and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Following the September 11th attacks against America, American-led forces
toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Approximately half of the senior Al Qaeda leadership was captured during the American-led campaign, along with crippling the group’s communication network.
The exact size of Al Qaeda is unknown, but the group most likely has several thousand members and associated cells located around the world. This includes many members and cells still operating in Afghanistan. It is extremely difficult to know or understand how many actual members exist and the United States is working constantly to identify members, leaders and cells. – The estimated numbers of people who trained in camps or fought in Afghanistan ranges from ranges from 20,000 to 60,000 but these are not all Al Qaeda members. Al Qaeda serves as an umbrella organization that carries out its own terrorist acts as well as a focal point for other extremist groups. Some experts believe that Al Qaeda is an organization in transition. The losses of many of the group’s leaders
and their base in Afghanistan have disrupted the organization. While Al Qaeda’s definitive structure is unknown, experts fear that the organization can continue to operate if they lose senior leaders due to the entrepreneurial spirit in its lower-level fighters.
July 25, 1997 – Vol. 3, No. 206 Osamas Fatwa against the United States (6)
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