Essay on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- Terrorism

The Al Qaeda is a terrorist group lead by a man of the name Osama bin Laden.

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Al-Qaeda also grew in large part out of the utter failure of the modern Middle Eastern political order since independence. One of the Arab world's most unique features is its near-total lack of democracy (at least until 2011), making it the least democratic region in the world. The problem isn't Islam, as several Muslim countries (like Indonesia and Turkey) are democratic. Nor is it colonialism; Africa has, over time, become increasingly democratic. Scholars aren't really sure what the reason is, though there are a number of theories. Whatever the cause, the lack of democracy has left the Middle East vulnerable to radical recruitment: if you're a citizen looking for change but you can't find it democratically, then militancy becomes a much more promising strategy. Indeed, al-Qaeda's core leadership has always been Arab, even as the group has been based in different places around the Muslim world.

Abdullah Azzam Brigade is a Sunni Islamist militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad movement.

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This map is hypothetical, but the fact that it exists at all speaks to ISIS's longstanding ambition. Aaron Zelin, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, found this 2006 map produced by al-Qaeda in Iraq, showing the areas it hoped to control and overlapping oil sources. The correctness of the map aside (there is not actually much oil in this area, despite the little derrick icons), it shows that the group has been thinking about the territory it wants and how to control it for about a decade. These territorial ambitions have long been a major source of friction between al-Qaeda central and AQI, now known as ISIS. Al-Qaeda believes that a caliphate cannot be established in the Middle East until after the US and other foreign powers are pushed out; ISIS's leadership has long seen this attitude as cowardly defeatism.

Since the reestablishment of Al Qaeda in 2009, AQAP has continued to pressure different provi... ...

On September 5, 1972, members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took the Israeli delegation at the Munich Summer Olympics hostage. The above diagram shows a rescue plan that several German police officers unilaterally aborted mid-mission, resulting in a limited rescue that failed. Afterward, the terrorists panicked and executed 11 members of the Israeli team. Black September wasn't Islamist, like Hamas today — it was a Palestinian nationalist group looking to topple Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state. The attack targeted Israelis for that reason, and also because Black September wanted to trade hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Though it targeted Israelis, the attack was felt globally. Several athletes from all over the world, including famed Jewish American swimmer Mark Spitz, withdrew from the Olympics out of concern for their security. According to German government documents uncovered in 2012 by Der Spiegel, this led the West German government to make policy concessions to the Palestinians in order to avoid future attacks. Terror groups around the world took the lesson that high-profile attacks could be effective.

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The 9/11 attacks were the culmination of al-Qaeda's strategy. Ideally, al-Qaeda wanted the US to withdraw from the Middle East in terror; barring that, it wanted to bait the United States into an expensive and ultimately unwinnable series of wars (a strategy patterned, at least in part, on the jihadists' victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan). And indeed, al-Qaeda succeeded in sparking these wars. But the attack also backfired. The 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan devastated al-Qaeda there, isolating and weakening its leadership.

Osama Bin Laden & Al Qaeda Essays

After the Afghanistan War, the mujahideen veterans debated what to do next. Some groups, like Algeria's GIA, returned home to wage what some saw as Islamic revolutions. But another faction, led by al-Qaeda, believed these local revolutions would be impossible until they dealt with the real problem: the United States. Osama bin Laden and his allies believed they could not topple their "near enemy" — dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia's — as long as those dictators were propped up by the US, which became the "far enemy." The 1990 Gulf War against Iraq, which saw the US deploy thousands of troops to new bases in the region, entrenched this belief. In 1996, bin Laden issued an official "declaration of war" against the United States.

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Al-Qaeda, like the European nationalist and leftist terror groups that came before it, sees terrorism as a tactic to achieve revolutionary political ends. But its ideology is rooted in the history of the Muslim world. In the 1890s, the growth of European empires made many Muslims feel like their societies had fallen behind. That feeling deepened in World War I, when the British and French Empires struck the secret Sykes-Picot agreement to carve up the Ottoman Empire between them, bringing non-Muslim rule. Some Muslim scholars argued that the Islamic world had abandoned the faith's original religious principles, made great by the original caliphate, a seventh-century empire led by Islam's founding generations. Their idea was to use the caliphate as something of a metaphor for a purified Islam. But in the 20th century, some in the growing Islamist movement preached a literal return to a caliphate as means to restore Islam and Muslims to their rightful place of greatness. Al-Qaeda took this idea to radical new extremes.