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Who Are the al-Qaeda?

On this Site

The New Afghan Government
The Attack on Afghanistan
Who Is Osama Bin Laden?
Who Are the Northern Alliance?
Afghanistan Area Map

Elsewhere on the Web

Frontline: Al-Qaeda
More about Al-Qaeda
Afghanistan: Veiled in Fear
Historical Timeline of Afghanistan

The al-Qaeda is a terrorist network by and large run by Osama Bin Laden, a known terrorist and the man thought to have been the mastermind of the September 11 attacks on America's World Trade Center.

Until last year, this group of terrorists had a huge operation, including training camps, in Afghanistan. The U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan has largely rid that country of al-Qaeda.

The al-Qaeda network had its roots in the Afghan fight against the Soviet invasion. When Soviet troops finally left in 1989, Osama Bin Laden gathered together many of these "freedom fighters" and turned their attention to the other superpower, the United States, which at that time had a considerable military presence in nearby Saudi Arabia. (Two years later, U.S.-led forces would invade Kuwait from Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait from Iraq.)

In all, the al-Qaeda network is thought to include perhaps thousands of terrorists all around the world. Their primary goal seems to be to plot the destruction of the United States and other large countries, in addition to public figures such as Pope John Paul II. (An al-Qaeda member has been linked to a planned 1994 assassination attempt on the pope in Manila, long a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity.)

In addition to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, al-Qaeda terrorists are thought to have been involved with the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embasses in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania that killed more than 300 people and injured 5,000 more.