Created in 1989 as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan Al-Qaeda (Meaning 'The Base') was the Brainchild of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri
and Mohammed Atef.
The organisation had grown from the group of Islamic volunteers which had ascended upon Afghanistan in the name of Islam to fight off the threat of
Communism and the Soviet Union.
During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security
training from the CIA.
The "Arab Afghans", as they became known, were battle-hardened and highly motivated.
In the early 1990s Al-Qaeda operated in Sudan. After 1996 its headquarters and about a dozen training camps moved to Afghanistan, where Bin Laden
forged a close relationship with the Taleban.
The US campaign in Afghanistan starting in late 2001 dispersed the organisation and drove it underground as its personnel were attacked and its bases
and training camps destroyed.
The 'Who's Who' Of Al-Qaeda
Believed Alive And Wanted
Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden is the man the US accuses of masterminding the 11 September suicide hijackings and other attacks on US interests.
He has been indicted for the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa and the attacks on the USS Cole in October 2000.
He founded al-Qaeda in 1979, originally as a guesthouse in Peshawar for Arab fighters.
Despite an extensive military operation in Afghanistan, it is still not known where he is or even if he is definitely still alive.
Arab broadcasters regularly air recordings of speeches attributed to the fugitive al-Qaeda figurehead.
A video released during the US presidential election in October 2004 showed him warning Americans of new attacks.
Egyptian in origin, Ayman al-Zawahri is believed to serve as Bin Laden's spiritual adviser and doctor. He is also the architect of the al-Qaeda
In 1998, he was the second of five signatories to Bin Laden's notorious "fatwa" calling for attacks against US civilians.
He was a key figure in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, which later merged with al-Qaeda.
Zawahri has appeared alongside Bin Laden in al-Qaeda videotapes released since 11 September. His wife and children were reported killed in a US air
strike in late November or early December 2001.
He has been indicted in the US for his role in the US embassy bombings in Africa, and was sentenced to death in Egypt in absentia for his activities
with the Islamic Jihad group in the 1990s.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian also known as Ahmed al-Khalayleh, has been accused of spearheading al-Qaeda's campaign against the US occupation of
Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a top terror suspect in Iraq
In February 2004, the US military released a letter it claimed to have intercepted in which Zarqawi apparently asks al-Qaeda to help ignite a
sectarian conflict in Iraq.
His name has been linked to the deadly suicide bombings targeting Iraqi Shia Muslims and security services. He is also suspected of direct involvement
in the kidnappings and execution of foreign workers in Iraq.
A $25m bounty has been placed on his head - although some experts believe that much terrorist activity in Iraq - while inspired by him - may now take
place independently of him. His capture, they therefore argue, is unlikely to stop the violence.
US forces said in April 2005 they had recently come close to capturing him in Iraq.
Zarqawi has been tried in absentia and sentenced to death for planning attacks in his native Jordan. Intelligence officers in Morocco and Turkey have
also implicated him in high-profile suicide attacks there during 2003.
The head of Germany's international counter-terrorism unit, Hans-Josef Beth, has warned that Zarqawi is trained in the use of toxins and could be
planning an attack on Europe.
He is believed to have travelled extensively since 9/11, reportedly spending time in Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.
An Egyptian in his late 30s, al-Adel is Bin Laden's security chief.
He is believed to have assumed many of the late Mohammed Atef's duties in al-Qaeda.
He was a colonel in the Egyptian army but joined the mujahideen fighting to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan.
He is also suspected of teaching militants to use explosives and training some of the 11 September hijackers.
He has been linked to the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The US further accuses him of training the Somali fighters who
killed 18 US servicemen in Mogadishu in 1993.
In 1987, Egypt accused Adel - whose real name is Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi - of trying to establish a military wing of the militant Islamic group
al-Jihad, and of trying to overthrow the government.
Currently In Custody
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Sheikh Mohammed has been in US custody at an undisclosed location since March 2003, when he was captured in a safe house in Pakistan.
A Kuwaiti from the Baluchistan region of Pakistan, Sheikh Mohammed grew up in a religious family and claims to have joined the Muslim Brotherhood at
the age of 16.
After attending college in the United States, he went to Afghanistan to participate in the anti-Soviet jihad. It was there that he is believed to have
first met Osama Bin Laden.
According to Sheikh Mohammed, he himself first pitched the idea of the aerial-style attacks on the US, calling for the for hijacking of 10 jetliners
on both coasts of the US and crashing nine of them.
He features prominently in a recent US commission report on how the attacks were carried out, and this drew heavily on his statements during
In addition to playing a leading role in planning the 11 September attacks, US officials have also contended that Sheikh Mohammed personally executed
Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted in Pakistan.
Abu Zubaydah, who is thought to have served as Bin Laden's field commander, was captured in Pakistan in March 2002.
The Americans describe him as a "key terrorist recruiter and operational planner and member of Osama Bin Laden's inner circle".
Zubaydah, who is believed to have been born to Palestinian parents in Saudi Arabia, is also known as Zayn al-Abidin Mohammed Husain and Abd al-Hadi
al-Wahab but has used dozens of other aliases.
He has strong connections with Jordanian and Palestinian groups and was sentenced to death in his absence by a Jordanian court for his role in a
thwarted plot to bomb hotels there during millennium celebrations.
US officials believe he is also connected to a plan to blow up the US embassy in Sarajevo, and a plot to attack the US embassy in Paris.
According to a Senate report, Zubaydah has told US interrogators that while he believed some al-Qaeda members had good personal relationships with
Iraqi government officials he was unaware of any real relationship between Baghdad and the network.
Captured in Pakistan in September 2002, the Yemeni national is said to have become a key member of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, after
seeking asylum there in the late 1990s.
According to officials, he met Mohammed Atta, the leader of the Hamburg cell and one of the alleged masterminds of the 11 September attacks, through a
local mosque in 1997.
Intelligence officials say Binalshibh may also have been involved in the attacks on the USS Cole and a Tunisian synagogue.
Mohammed Haydar Zammar
Zammar is believed to have been in Hamburg with Mohammed Atta and other members of his cell - including hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.
Investigators have said that it was he who recruited them to the al-Qaeda cause, although doubts have since been cast on whether he did in fact carry
out this role.
A German citizen, he was arrested in Morocco after he left Germany in the wake of the 11 September attacks. Moroccan authorities later sent him to
Syrian interrogation is reported to have provided US investigators with details about the attack and plans for more possible al-Qaeda operations,
according to reports.
British-born Richard Reid was sentenced to life in prison in January 2003 after being found guilty of trying to blow up an airliner with explosives
hidden in his shoes.
During his trial Reid - the so-called "shoe bomber" - changed his plea to guilty on all eight charges against him and declared himself a follower of
Osama Bin Laden.
Speaking during sentencing, Reid told the court: "I admit my actions... I do not apologise for my actions and I am still at war with your country."
Mr Reid was arrested after a disturbance on an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight on 22 December 2001.
Despite Reid's pledges of support to Osama Bin Laden, his defence team made the case that he was acting alone and was not truly affiliated with
In 2003 Mounir al-Motassadek, a Moroccan, was the first person in the world to be convicted in connection with the 11 September attacks. But he
appealed and in 2004 Germany's Supreme Court threw the verdict out and ordered a retrial.
The court ruled he had been denied a fair trial because the US had refused his defence team access to testimony from al-Qaeda suspects in US custody.
Before the retrial in Hamburg the US justice department provided summaries from the interrogation of Binalshibh and other suspects, but did not allow
them to testify.
At the retrial Motassadek was jailed for seven years for membership of a terrorist organisation.
Throughout the trial Motassadek insisted he was innocent - that he knew nothing about the attacks, and knew the hijackers only socially.
Amjad Farooqi, alias Amjad Hussain, is said to have risen through the ranks of Pakistani Sunni militant groups to become a key al-Qaeda operative.
Pakistani security services allege he organised two failed assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf.
He was also wanted in connection with the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
He was reportedly killed in a shoot-out with security forces in southern Pakistan in September 2004.
Mohammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafez, was believed to be one of Osama Bin Laden's most important lieutenants and the military commander of
Before joining forces with Bin Laden, Atef was an Egyptian policeman and member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that he was believed to have been killed in the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan in November 2001.
Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi
Also known as Abu Ali, he is believed to be one of six al-Qaeda suspects killed by a US operation in Yemen in November 2002.
He was a prime target in the US counter-terrorism campaign because of his suspected involvement in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole ship in
Yemen's Aden harbour.
Abu Hazim al-Shair
US intelligence officials had identified Abu Hazim al-Shair, once one of Osama bin Laden's, bodyguards, as al-Qaeda's new chief of operations for
the Gulf states.
The 30-year-old Yemeni was believed to live in Saudi Arabia, and featured high on the list of 19 most-wanted al-Qaeda operatives in the country.
Thought to have been a key planner in the May 2003 bombings of Western residential compounds in Riyadh, he was reported to have been killed in the
east of the city during in an exchange of fire with Saudi security forces in March 2004.
26th February 1993
Six people killed and more than 1000 injured when a 500kg bomb explodes at the World Trade Centre in New York City.
4th October 1993
Members of a Somali militia shoot down two US Blackhawk helicopters. It is believed that Al-Qaeda trained and financed the people responsible for the
attacks in which 18 US servicemen died.
26th June 1995
Al-Qaeda tries, unsuccessfully, to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
13th November 1995
Seven people, including five Americans, are killed when two bombs explode at a U.S.-Saudi military facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden
is blamed for the attack.
25th June 1996
Bin Laden followers bomb U.S. military base near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding hundreds of Americans and Saudi
7th August 1998
Bombs explode at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing more than 220 people and injuring 5,000. The U.S.
retaliates with air strikes against suspected training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan.
12th October 2000
Two suicide bombers, suspected to be associated with bin Laden, attack the navy destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 sailors.
11th September 2001
Attacks on World Trade Center in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania kill close to 3,000 people. Al-Qaeda is blamed within days of the attacks.
More On The 9/11 Attacks!
22nd December 2001
Shoe bomber Richard Reid tries to blow up an American Airlines jet over the Atlantic.
12th October 2003
Bombs in two nightclubs in Bali kill 202 people. Authorities later charges members of a local group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which has ties with
More On The 2003 Bali Bombings!
23rd October 2003
Chechen rebels, believed to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda, storm a theatre in Moscow and take audience, actors and crew as hostages.
11th November 2003
Saudis blame al-Qaeda for a suicide car bombing that killed 17 people in Riyadh.
11th March 2004
Bombs on commuter trains in Madrid kill 190 people and injure more than 1,800. Spain later arrests more than a dozen suspects, many of them from
Morocco and believed to have ties to al-Qaeda.
More On Madrid Train Attacks!
22nd April 2004
Saudi authorities blame suicide attacks in downtown Riyadh on al-Qaeda. The attacks killed 10 people.
12th May 2004
A video posted on a website linked to al-Qaeda shows the beheading of American hostage Nick Berg. The video is entitled Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Shown
Slaughtering an American. Al-Zarqawi is a lieutenant of bin Laden.
18th June 2004
Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaeda behead an American hostage, Paul Johnson.
2nd October 2005
Three more bomb attacks in two tourist areas on the Indonesian resort island of Bali killed at least 26 people - among them foreign nationals.
More On 2005 Bali Bombings!
Without a doubt Al-Qaeda is the worlds most well known terror group. They are believed to be active in more than 40 countries worldwide.
After their feelings of hate turned from the Soviet Union to the western world it was inevitable that we would come under attack from them at some
point in the future, and although they have carried out many attacks over the last decade non will be remembered like 9/11.
The world must strive to squash Al-Qaeda as quickley as possible to prevent further attacks. We must take every step possible and use any amount of
force required to stop this global terrorist network.
[edit on 6/12/2005 by MickeyDee]
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