Thursday, July 12, 2012

Al-Qaeda Research Paper

Al-Qaeda Research Paper

Nowadays the problem of terrorism is one of the most disturbing issues many national governments have to deal with. In fact, at the present moment this is the global problem that requires an immediate solution since the spread of terrorism brings chaos and panic among civil population and undermine social stability and economy of all countries, including the most developed ones. Terrorism is one of the most burning problems of the contemporary world. Every day we get the news on TV, radio and through the newspapers about new terrorist attacks, which take away scores of people’s life. Terrorists thinking that they are fighting for good, continue to kill hundreds of innocent people, who were unlucky enough to live, or just walk by near the shop, underground station, foreign embassy or whatever other place terrorists choose as their target. This is the way which the world of terrorism chose to show the world of other people their point of view. Aren’t there other ways? It seems that there are many ways to be noticed in the world besides killing innocent people.


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The murders committed by terrorists cannot be justified by religion. People who faithfully follow any religion cannot kill thinking that they accomplish what their god told them to. It is not so. It’s just a vague excuse, which covers more serious motivation. Everybody knows that religion should comfort people’s souls, should show them the right way in life, but it shouldn’t make them aggressive, and it usually doesn’t. People who want be aggressive will be aggressive, no matter which religion they belong to. Not all Muslim people are terrorists just because they are Muslim; it’s the same as not all blonde women are foolish. People create stereotypes, because with the help of them it’s easy to explain some things. That’s why the main goal of this essay to speak not about Muslims as they are terrorists, but speak about international terrorist organization, which comprises a lot of people all over the world.

Al-Qaeda, also known as “The Base”, the Islamic Army, or the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders was established in the late 1980 to support military activities of Islamic warriors all over the world. Its foundation is a result of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. Currently, it exists as an international terrorist network heavily funded and led by Osama bin Laden. This loosely knit network is itself comprised of dozens of terrorist organizations worldwide. Its operations serve to carry out bin Laden’s declared jihad (holy war) to all corners of the globe. Bin Laden’s goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems “non-Islamic” and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries [1]. Al-Qaeda is strongly against capitalistic ideas of western countries, and views the USA as its prime enemy, which it attempts to destroy. This organization supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Pakistan, Somalia, Tajikistan and Yemen [2].

Operating worldwide Al-Qaeda aims to limit or even eliminate the influence of the United States of America on Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia in particular), and also restrict the influence of all pro-western ideas on the Middle East in general. Among its prime goals is to destroy Israel. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs [4].

Though Osama bin Laden was the one to organize Al-Qaeda, he is not the only one who regulates it. He and other leaders of Al-Qaeda, which will be discussed a little later, control an organized worldwide “network of cells”. Being not centralized, each cell operates independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. Local operatives rarely know anyone higher up in the organization’s hierarchy [4]. This terrorist organization is not supported by any political state, however it itself provides financial and logistical support, as well as name recognition, to terrorist groups operating in such diverse places as the Philippines, Algeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kashmir.

Furthermore, local groups may act in the name of al-Qaeda in order to bolster their own reputation—even if they are not receiving support from the organization [4]. Al-Qaeda has traditionally operated with an informal horizontal structure, comprising more than 24 constituent terrorist organizations, combined with a formal vertical structure [5]. Osama bin Laden directs four major committees of the organization, including military, finance, media and religious. Bin Laden and his two cohorts, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, set general policies and approved large-scale actions. Until the US intervention in Afghanistan, Al- Qaeda acted in a manner somewhat resembling a large charity organization that funded terrorist projects to be conducted by preexisting or affiliate terrorist groups [5].

Strategic environment of Al-Qaeda includes such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Eritrea, Kosovo, Pakistan, Somalia, Tajikistan and Yemen, which it supports financially and provides necessary equipment to supply Muslim fighters[2]. The analysis of Osama bin Laden’s actions and statements shows that the fundamental and superior strategic objective of Al-Qaeda is to withdraw American influence (military as well as civilian) from the Gulf region. The major strategy of bin Laden is to raise armed insurrection against the USA within all Arabic states. However, their strategy seems to be a continuation of the earlier policy of terror for which Al Qaeda was responsible, particularly the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and last year’s Madrid atrocity [5].

The strategic missions of Al-Qaeda include “the overthrow of the godless regimes and their replacement with an Islamic regime” [2]. This is the essential mission. Other ones include gathering information, kidnapping, freeing captured members, spreading rumours about the enemy and etc.

Terrorist attacks serve as means for global insurgency of Jihad. With the help of terrorist attacks and hostilities Muslim fighters want to reach their goals, and to prove the whole world that they are strong enough to rule in it. Obviously they don’t see other ways to gain power; however, this way is not effective either. By means of terrorist attacks Al-Qaeda wants not only to create a unified state of Muslims, but a worldwide body of believers declaring allegiance to one man whose word will be reckoned as seriously as if Allah himself said so, whose decrees will be absolute [5].

Those who believe that Islam is tightly connected with terrorism consider this religion as the main motivation of Muslims to get involved into terrorists attacks. The holy book “Koran” says that the souls of warriors who take part in Jihad will go to paradise. “As for the righteous, they shall surely triumph. Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high- bosomed virgins for companions: a truly overflowing cup” [Koran 78:31]. However, it’s well known that members of Al-Qaeda are also well-paid, especially the ones who die; in case of a death the members of family of a dead terrorist are paid a rather large sum of money. So, this could be a reasonable motivation.

Speaking about the coherence of terrorist actions performed by the members of Al-Qaeda, it’s necessary to mention that all actions are carefully planned, well organized, all measures of security are usually taken; and that’s why it’s is so hard to identify where and when the next terrorist attack will take place. However, very often Al-Qaeda conducts terrorist attacks when some political events take place. For example, in case of Madrid bombing there was a Spanish general election during that time; and as for attack in London there was the G8 summit at Gleneagles [4].

As it has been mentioned above Al-Qaeda is a network of smaller terrorist organization operating all over the world, whose main objective to reach political goals by means of terrorist attacks. Its main priority is the overthrow of the “heretic governments” in their respective countries and the establishment of Islamic governments based on the rule of “Shariah” [2]. The analysis of Osama bin Laden’s actions and statements shows that the fundamental and superior strategic objective of Al-Qaeda is to withdraw American influence (military as well as civilian) from the Gulf region. The major strategy of bin Laden is to raise armed insurrection against the USA within all Arabic states. However, their strategy seems to be a continuation of the earlier policy of terror for which Al Qaeda was responsible, particularly the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and last year’s Madrid atrocity [5]. The analysts of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist actions now believe that it aims to damage the Saudi petroleum industry. As we know Saudi Arabia is the major supplier of oil to the US, and the damage of its oil industry will have a harmful impact on the US economy, and not only the US because Saudi Arabia is the world’s No. 1 oil producer and provides for more than 10 percent of worldwide consumption [4].

As it can be seen the target area of Al-Qaeda is the USA and some western developed countries, because Al-Qaeda is strongly against capitalism and all pro-western ideas. However, it’s not always so. Global insurgency of Jihad uses terrorist attacks as means of strife for the interests of Muslims all over the world. However, very often Muslim people also suffer from the terrorist attacks conducted by their compatriots. The London bombing, like the other actions attributed to Al-Qaeda, had two audiences, the Western and the Islamic world. One cannot be sure that Al-Qaeda understands how the West will react to their terrorist actions [5]. And when western countries will attack the Islamic world, than the innocent people at the cost of their life will bare penalty for the deeds of Al-Qaeda.

Mass media and especially Internet play an essential role in the activities of Al-Qaeda. While planning the terrorist attack of 9/11 the members Al-Qaeda were widely engaged in using the Internet, as the main mean of communication between cells in the USA and Afghanistan. This and other examples show that Internet is being used as the tool of “cyberplanning” for the terrorists. There are some obvious advantages of usage of the Internet for the terrorists. Internet gives the terrorists an opportunity to stay anonymous, provides with necessary resources to control the terrorist actions and find out new ways to conduct a terrorist attack. Word searches of online newspapers and journals allow a terrorist to construct a profile of the means designed to counter his actions, or a profile of admitted vulnerabilities in our systems. For example, recent articles reported on attempts to slip contraband items through security checkpoints. One report noted that at Cincinnati’s airport, contraband slipped through over 50 percent of the time. A simple Internet search by a terrorist would uncover this shortcoming, and offer the terrorist an embarkation point to consider for his or her next operation [5].

To make a conclusion it’s necessary to mention that until the world exists in the way it is now, terrorist organization will also continue to exist, because there are always some sort of disagreements between government and population of a country, between governments of different countries, between religious leaders and political leaders and between religions of different countries. However, hostilities are not the best way to solve the problem. Besides taking away people’s lives terrorism dispels fear among population; and nowadays people are afraid to go to the supermarket, because it can be the next target of the terrorist attack.

Global insurgency of Jihad started by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organization Al-Qaeda is not the only one existing in the world. Muslims are not the only ones who are engaged in terrorism, because terrorist organizations also exist in Europe and South America. It’s sad to realize, but more and more terrorist organization may appear in future due to the constant discontent of people with their government; and unfortunately peaceful measures of showing different political points of view are not popular nowadays.

It is possible to conclude that despite the variety of views and a great number of specialists who offer their own ideas which they consider to be essential for the grand strategy and national security, it is still necessary to underline that practically all specialists agree at the point that a clearly defined strategy, which includes clear goals, tactics and means to achieve the goals, should be developed in order to increase the level of national security and prevent peaceful citizens from the threat of terrorism.

It is obvious that even powerful countries need an efficient strategy that could provide the highest level of national security and prevent any further attempts of terror attacks aiming against its citizens. The recent years demonstrate that the President Bush administration have chosen a basically military way of the solution of the problem and aggressive international policy is now considered to be one of the key elements of the national security of the US. However, such a strategy is widely criticized and actually, speaking about the strategy of national security there are probably as many views on this problem as there are specialists working on it.

Many political organization clearly realize the danger of Al-Qaeda and suggest that it is necessary to use both military and diplomatic means to defeat the opponents but with more defensive strategy than offensive one. Also economic measures could be used in the struggle.

I believe that it is highly necessary to clearly define the goals and ends of the strategy that has to be carefully planned and it should rely on essential resources that has to be also taken into consideration. Furthermore, when the goals and resources are defined it is necessary to clearly define the priorities of the strategy in the context of goals and constrained resources.

Being practically applied, the grand strategy of national security, should combine military, political and economic tools which should be used efficiently and such a combination could really prevent the further growth of the threat of terror attacks.
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