• Al Qaeda were originally a militant Islamic organisation founded by Osama bin Laden sometime in the late 90s during the Soviet – Afghan war.
Nowadays, particularly after the death of bin Laden, Al Qaeda should be thought of a loose network of radical Islamists, who share Al Qaedas ideology and use local grievances to gather support for their cases.
Definition- ‘Al Qaeda is a loose affiliation of groups who claim affiliation to Al Qaeda or its stated objectives of global jihad.’ Some organizations may have operational ties to Osama bin Ladens core group. Increasingly, however, groups pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda have no formal association whatever.
‘Al Qaeda has been moving towards decentralization ever since the invasion of Afghanistan, with isolated cells and loosely affiliated groups that have only a tenuous connection to the greater Al Qaeda hierarchy tapping into Bin Ladens "franchise," appropriating its ideological "brand name" for their actions.’
The group who masterminded the 9/11 attacks, including Bin Laden and his successor, Ayman Al Zawahri. Mostly Saudi and Egyptian born.
The US’ counter terrorist measures in Pakistan, as well as Operation Enduring Freedom (the UN backed invasion of Afghanistan) has been centred on eliminating the terrorist activities and capabilities of the Al Qaeda core group. The U.S believes that the bin Laden raid and continued U.S. counterterrorist action have reduced the chance of a sophisticated, multipronged attack on the U.S. like the attacks of Sept. 11 or the deadly bombings in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005.
However, Al Qaeda’s affiliate groups remain a threat to global security. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi and Yemeni braches) Al Qaeda in Iraq Al Shabab – in Somalia have claimed affiliation with Al Qaeda since 2007 Boko Haram – in Nigeria also claim affiliation with Al Qaeda
All of these groups are still very actively pursuing AQ’s agenda. They still consider themselves at war with the U.S., the Western nations, and their own governments.
Al Qaeda has gathered support for its war against the US on the following grounds – Resentment against US foreign policy in the Middle East, especially its support of Israel against the Palestinians and the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia In 2007 Bin Laden spoke in a tape aired on Al Jazeera TV that, ‘the Manhattan events were in retaliation for the killing of our kinfolk in Palestine and Lebanon by the US-Israeli alliance’.
A general feeling that the US is an oppressive power against Muslims – until the Arab Spring, the US had been a supporter of the oppressive regimes which were overthrown, such as Mubaraks in Egypt and Ben Ali’s in Tunisia. Resentment against the US and the feeling of being oppressed by the West magnified by the poverty and inequality of many Middle Eastern and North African states.
US foreign policy in the Middle East – the US’ support for Israel – the US has used its veto 10 times since 2000, nine of which involved backing the Israeli side in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
The US has refused to condone in the UN, Isreali settlements in the West Bank
Of the Al Qaeda affiliates it is the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen which is of the most concern to global security, especially that of the US. "As al-Qaidas core has gotten weaker, we have seen the rise of affiliated groups around the world. Among these al-Qaida affiliates, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) represents a particularly serious threat," the survey of terrorism worldwide warned.
One of the poorest countries in the Arab world. 34% of the population is unemployed. 45% live below the United Nations‘ poverty line 55% are illiterate. With Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) at only $2,500, Yemeni living standards have more in common with sub-Saharan Africa than with the rest of the Middle East
Yemen has a weak central government and is in danger of becoming a failed state. Various group[s in Yemen’s North and South are launching secessionist campaigns against the government.
A failed state is a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. Some characteristics of a failed state are - loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions an inability to provide public services
Failed states lack the ability to safeguard economic stability, provide access to resources such as food and water and promote general public security. Failed states have also lost their monopoly on the utility of violence – which can result in failed states being trapped in a cycle of violence and underdevelopment which is self perpetuating.
Violence employed as a means of achieving ones political objectives, commonly witnesses in global politics through inter state war. Traditionally perceived as an instrument of state power, violence and threatened acts of violence are increasing used by terrorist groups as means of achieving their objectives.
Failed states have weak and porous borders, and contain large tracks of territory in which the government has lost control over. Failed and failing states provide a potential refuge for transnational terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, pirates as well as drug and human smugglers. They are breeding grounds for refugee crises, political and religious extremism, environmental degradation and organized criminal activity
"[W]e have come to understand better", an Australian Government ASEAN Regional Forum report, "the impact weak and failing states can have on global security. Afghanistan illustrated the role such states can play in providing shelter for terrorist networks.” Apart from sheltering terrorists, it has also been claimed that failed or failing states can become terrorist breeding grounds as "young people with ineffectual government, few jobs, little or no education … find strength and security within terrorist organizations.”
Al-Qaedas branch in Yemen exploited the decline in central government control last year that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power in February. The US and the international community are supporting the Yemeni government against Al Qaeda in Yemen