Ideology and Objectives of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda
Nowadays, every part has been stimulated and affected by various acts of violence and terrorism around the globe. A number of revolutionary movements are being advanced at a very faster rate. In the result, thousands of innocent people have died, and millions of people have lost their homes. During this mode of international intimidation, we will try to comprehend and discuss one of the major terrorist groups around the world, which has affected millions of people and provided suffering to them.
We will try to relate the ideologies and intentions related to one of the specific terrorist groups that has been the cause of various anti-terrorist campaigns, activities, as well as, wars by different and various countries, NGOs, organizations, and thousands of individuals around the world. We will also try to examine their every day activities, their related bodies, as well as, their utilization of the term of ‘jihad’ in their violent processes and other operations of the group.
In this regard, we will also try to relate and link some of the major events of violence and terrorism that have occurred in different parts of the world, such as, 9/11 attack, London bombing, etc. Therefore, we will examine if there is anything happening for the elimination and reduction of the deterioration that has been caused by the group around the world. In this way, we will also go through a list of challenges that have to overcome by the different countries and international peace organizations in a mutual and sustainable manner, as all these factors are interrelated with each other in the processes of international peace.
History & Leadership An armed Sunni Islamist organization and group having the objective and intention to eliminate and eradicate foreign influences from the Muslim countries is Al-Qaeda, which has become one of the significant areas of focus in every country and state. One of the basic objectives of this group is the eradication of the ones, whom they deem and consider being infidels according to their theologies.
One of the main purposes of this militant organization is the reestablishment of a state governed by a Caliph (Islamic leader), which is the title given to an Islamic leader controlling the political leadership, as well as, religious leadership in the religion of Islam. In this regard, struggle for the above-mentioned reestablishment of a caliph-governed-state was performed by the adherents of Wahhabism; that is, an orthodox conventional Islamic movement, which was named after its founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, and Salafism; another orthodox Islamic fundamentalist movement.
They are the prominent pioneers and militants of this armed group. These two movements of their Islam are very dominant in Saudi Arabia, Western Iraq, and Qatar. These countries played a vital role in the encouragement of the revolutionary activities of this militant group. In the year 1980, a Muslim organization was founded, namely ‘Maktab al-Khadamat’ (Place for Service) that resulted in the evolution of Al-Qaeda according to some of the experts and analysts in this field, which vary in number and cannot be specified in a paper.
War against the Soviets, particularly, in Afghanistan, channelizing of funds, and recruitment of personnel who were trained by the Al-Qaeda were some of the main objectives of establishment of this organization. A Palestinian Islamic scholar, A. Azaan has been considered as the founder of this organization. He is considered as one of the influential leaders that remained the reason of Al-Qaeda activities for a long period. In this regard, paramilitary training camps were established and organized by this group, and Bin Laden was convinced and influenced by the Palestinian founder.
In the result, funds were raised from the petro-billionaires of the Gulf, as well as, some of the royal families for this organization. However, some of the experts have analyzed that a major role has not been played by the MAK in the advancement of Al-Qaeda as a powerful opponent of the Western countries. The group is generally recognized by its leader, Osama bin Laden, whereas, Ayman al-Zawahiri has also influenced the practice, as well as, theory of this organization.
A common cause is linking many collaborative and independent working cells, which may exist in more than one country, resulting in its operations to be not centralized from one place. The September 11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, as well as, on the Pentagon were the result of planning and execution of the abovementioned group that has committed multiple terrorism acts in the name of a term ‘jihad’ in the religion of Islam.
In response, a number of series of legal, as well as, military operations were launched against the militant group, Al-Qaeda by the United States, which was supported by many other developed and developing countries, such as, Jordan, England, Egypt, Canada, Pakistan, etc. The United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, NATO, and the United Nations, have officially designated this group as harmful and terrorist organization due to its continuous radical acts in different parts of the world.
Thus, in this section, we have tried to discuss the leadership and initial years of the Al-Qaeda briefly. Case Studies In late October 2001, al Jazeera, a Middle-east television network’s journalist, Tayseer Alouni, videotaped the Osama bin Laden’s interview, while he was explaining the origin of his group. In his interview, Osama said, ‘The name ‘al Qaeda’ was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahedeen (trained force) against Soviet’s terrorism.
We used to call the training camp al Qaeda [meaning “the base” in English] and the name stayed. In this interview of the year 2001, he used the word mujahedeen, which is used to describe the Muslims, who are ready to sacrifice their lives in any war or a meaning of struggle, often taken in the words, Jihad. In true Islamic context, it is an Islamic term that was derived from an Arabic root, which means to struggle or to strive. In the light of abovementioned reference, in religious terms, an inner effort and struggle for the mobilization of energies, in order to make one, a pious Muslim spiritually is called Jihad.
Secondly, it is an attempt to serve the Islamic community and ummah through the mentioned capabilities. In extreme circumstances, it is regarded in military terms through the conquest of enemy’s territory or power. After knowing the true definition of Jihad in its Islamic terminology, a nonprofessional person can articulate that the ideology of Islam, which is being presented by these militant groups are fake and ridiculous. Islam is a religion of peace, which requires a Muslim to submit his will to , one God.
Whereas, no Islamic context or Allah’s words have ordered to kill innocent people and frighten them with the bombings and suicide attacks. Historically, if we investigate and analyze the origin of Al-Qaeda, we come to know that it was originally established, where training was given to thousands of mujahedeen, and they were recruited in Soviet by the militant organization. In the month of January 2001, the U. S. Department of Justice used the term Al-Qaeda for the first time, when four men were accused in the case of United States embassy bombings in East Africa.
Again, if we examine the concept of Al-Qaeda for these militant acts, we can take the example of another part of the previously mentioned interview of October 2001. During the interview, the Al-Qaeda leader was asked regarding his sources that were supporting his activities financially. In reply, Osama bin Laden said, ‘This battle is not between al Qaeda and the U. S. This is a battle of Muslims against the global crusaders. In the past, when al Qaeda fought with the mujahedeen, we were told, “Wow, can you defeat the Soviet Union?
” The Soviet Union scared the whole world then. NATO used to tremble of fear of the Soviet Union. Where is that power now? We barely remember it. It broke down into many small states and Russia remained. God, who provided us with his support and kept us steadfast until the Soviet Union was defeated, is able to provide us once more with his support to defeat America on the same land and with the same people. We believe that the defeat of America is possible, with the help of God, and is even easier for us, God permitting, than the defeat of the Soviet Union was before. ’
According to this statement of the leader of Al-Qaeda group, this war is not with the United States, which is often assumed by the media, but with the global crusaders. Even if we accept this statement of the militant chief, do innocent people of New York or the students of the United Kingdom are regarded as crusaders in their opinions, which were killed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Centre and London train bombings respectively. This would have really made anybody feel ridiculous of the statement, or of the terrorist dealings that are happening nowadays in the world.
To take things more theoretically, we should try to gather around more facts. According to Diaa Rashwan, a senior researcher at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, in mid 1990s, a merger between the Bin Laden groups and the Zawahiri’s Al-Jihad groups was the result of a new name of this group, Qa’edat al-Jihad that means a base provided for the Jihad (the struggle). In the context of this section, we can have an understanding of the concept and theology of the Al-Qaeda leaders.
Once again, the word Jihad was taken as the primary objective and purpose of this militant group, which was totally against the teachings of Islam. The young Muslims were brought into Afghanistan for the training purpose, brainwashed by these militants, and were turned into new Afghani Mujahedeens. In the month of August 1988, according to a document of the Defense Department of the United States, the organization was defined as the establishment of an organization for the recruitment of young Muslims, and turning them into Afghani Mujahedeen, as mentioned previously in our discussion.
It was also stated in this document that the one of the main objectives of this group was instituting the Islamist states throughout the world, while overthrowing the un-Islamic regimes, which were taken as enemies of the God. The expulsion of soldiers of the United States from the Gulf was their one of the targets, and in the end, it was their mission to capture the city of Jerusalem as a sacred city of Muslims. If we look into the past, wars have been fought in the name of religion. However, no religion and even in the history of Islamic wars, we have never seen a war, in which innocent people, women, children were killed.
From the historical facts and the teachings of Islam, given by the Allah, a last option was given to the Muslims to fight in the name of their religion, if and only if, there was no other option remained in their hands. (Ajaja, pp. 67-69, 2006) This means that the Al-Qaeda leaders portray their activities as reflection of Islamic teachings, which is quite a wrong thing according to the history and teachings of Islam. We can decide through these statements and discussions that it is a wrong thing to call this militant group as an Islamic militant group. Political and social reasons can and may be behind the establishment of this group.
Personal benefits and leisure have been the cause and motive of this organization. However, it would be very ludicrous to relate it with the Islam. In this regard, Al-Qaeda is a militant group with extremists misguided by some of the leaders who are Muslims for their own leisure, luxury, and fame. The statements and writings of these groups may give a perception of a religion that gives the teaching of spreading blood and hatred in the world. However, their statements are very philosophical and illiterate in nature, if properly investigated and studied, as already being done by a number of experts and professionals around the world.
In the year 1998, the Al-Qaeda leader was interviewed once again and the tape was shown to people of the whole world. If we analyze his statements during that interview, Allah was praised by him for the help, by which, America’s greatest buildings were destroyed. He was seen thanking God for His blessings on them, and causing humiliation that was tasted by Muslims since more than eighty years. According to Bin Laden, Muslims’ children were being killed in Muslim countries, Israeli tanks were infesting Palestine, and the blood, honor, and sanctuaries of Islam were being abused by the infidels.
Even then, nobody was seen moving a single limb against these infidels according to Bin Laden. In one of his statements, he said, ‘These events have divided the whole world into two sides. The side of believers and the side of infidels, may God keep you away from them. Every Muslim has to rush to make his religion victorious. The winds of faith have come. The winds of change have come to eradicate oppression from the island of Muhammad, peace be upon Him. ’ If we look into this statement, according to him, his world was at the peak of division of the believers and the infidels.
Secondly, he had asked every Muslim to wake up and rush out for the victory of his religion. Even if we accept, the injustices caused to the Muslims, and the injuries borne by them, no Islamic teachings guided to response in this manner, even with the enemies. If we go back into the history, Prophet Muhammad, the last Prophet of the Allah, and who spread Islam in the Arabia, he had also fought many wars during his life. We can see the examples of forgiveness that He used to perform with the enemies, and even used to forgive those persons, who had abused him on the face, or even stoned His body.
From the abovementioned examples, it can be analyzed that the militant and terrorist acts of this Al-Qaeda group was not more than acts of political wars. The statements of Al-Qaeda group may be primary religious, but in some parts. More fractions were used to humiliate the enemy and disgrace the religion of Islam, and that is the reason, which made even the Islamic countries to support the War of Terrorism, such as, Islamic Republic of Pakistan that has supported the abovementioned war for the eradication of Al-Qaeda forces in different regions of the world.
Injustices were also done during this war of terrorism, and even innocent people became victims during this period. However, no difference remains, if a person slaps someone, who has just slapped him. Every religion that came in this world, taught and guided to speak the truth, help the people, and serve the humanity. Therefore, if a group of extremists that arm themselves, kill innocent people and children of the so-called enemies, and call them the true believers, they are truly wrong.
In this regard, all the evidences show that the members of this militant group are just misguided and brainwashed in order to fulfill the personal wishes of the leaders. Only radical and illiterate ideology of a religion is represented by these groups, and once again, one may not deem them as the representatives of Islam, which has often being done by most of the media and political authorities around the world. It has been analyzed that media has played a crucial role in the advancement of extremism of these terrorist groups around the world, which should be stopped by the concerned authorities, in order to acquire peace in the globe.
In order to understand their philosophy in more detail, we should examine their other statements too. A ‘fatwa’ (binding religious proclamation) was issued and co-signed by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Sumedh Gawai, and three of the other Islamist leaders on February 23, 1998. This edict was made under the banner of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders. Once again, it was very wrong step by them to use the word Islamic, as it only disgraced this religion, rather than giving it honor.
In this declaration, it was announced that “the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military is an individual duty of every Muslim, who can do it in any country in which, it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) and the Holy mosque (in Makka) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. ’ In the light of the abovementioned pronouncement, it was compulsory for every Muslim to come out of his/her home and start fighting with any Jew that comes in front of him. Is not that a preposterous proclamation, or should it be taken as a dangerous edict?
The most interesting thing, which takes attention of any person, is that traditional Islamic scholarly qualifications were possessed by neither Osama bin Laden or al-Zawahiri. However, the contemporary ‘ulema’ (true providers of Islamic teachings) were rejected by these radical extremists, and this responsibility was taken upon them by themselves. The September 11, 2001 attacks at New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the deadliest and the extreme cases in the American, as well as, World history.
Almost 3000 people were killed, which included Christians, Jews, and interestingly, even Muslims. This act was an elevated operation of terrorism, and it changed the lives of thousand of Americans, as well as, millions of people around the globe. In the month of October 2004, a videotape was released by Al-Jazeera, in which, Osama bin Laden claimed his responsibility of these attacks, and he stated his inspiration to be the 1982 Israeli attacks at the high-rises in the Lebanon. Once more, he performed this act of repetition that was done wrongly in the past in a reciprocal manner.
Even if Israel had done a devilish act, Islam had taught to forgive and pray for the blessings, even for the enemies. However, what happened was totally different and diverse from the Islamic teachings. In this way, the Al-Qaeda once again performed an anti-Islamic act in front of the globe. In this videotape, Osama bin Laden said, ‘As I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressors in kind and that we should destroy towers in America, in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.
’ It seems from these terrorism acts and their statements that this would not stop in the near future, and a war may not be the solution of this issue. Their philosophy, ideology, and psychology are related to their hearts, and that tends them to react in this state of terrorism. One more example of their statements is the incident of July 13, 2006. In the Srinagar region of Kashmir, a man claimed to be the representative of Al-Qaeda, and announced and the people worldwide, of their arrival in this region.
Kashmiri Muslims have been struggling since 1947, but declaration of Al-Qaeda from this event showed the chances of more extremism in this region. The spokesperson also attributed the recent blasts to his group, calling them a consequence of Indian oppression, which was suppressed by the Muslim minorities. These series of different statements showed the image of Muslims and particularly, Islam as a religion of war, rather than the peace.
These acts can only be the motives of political benefits and advantages, as no Islamic teachings teach the Muslims to do the struggle in this manner, even against their enemies. Therefore, once again, it would be better to declare that these statements and writings can only be a reflection of motives behind personal promotion, rather than the religious beliefs and teachings. However, it is still confusing to decide the final resolution, as the Al-Qaeda’s nature and extent of its working and operations throughout the world, remains an area of dispute.
It has been observed that Quranic teachings are used for the justification of their activities. However, this group has not ever accepted the Quranic teaching that has encouraged forgiving rather than a war. As earlier mentioned in the paper, it has been observed that a number of anti-terrorist forces have been created, peace organizations have struggled to approach a resolution; but nothing has provided any nonviolent and peaceful solution, which has been a serious concern for a number of nations and millions of people around the globe.
In this respect, the War on Terrorism has been one of the major counter responses that have been planned and implemented in various parts of the country, in order to eliminate and eradicate the Al-Qaeda group from the map of this planet. However, high-tech equipments, facilities and resources of super powers, such as, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc. have not been enough to eliminate such groups, particularly, the Al-Qaeda that has been the basic inspiration and support for the minor groups.
Following the attacks of World Trade Centre, military, legal, as well as, individual actions were performed by various countries, which were deemed as the War on Terrorism. For instance, Pakistan played a crucial role in the War on Terrorism, as its forces put many Al-Qaeda members behind the bars near the Pak-Afghan border. Before the commencement of the abovementioned war, a chance of surrender was given to some of the top leaders of the Al-Qaeda by the United States government that was rejected by them.
However, a neutral country was considered by the extremist leaders for the trial of Osama bin Laden, if evidences of involvement of the leader would be provided by the U. S. government. In response, the United States government rejected the proposal and deemed it as irrelevant. In the result, Afghanistan was invaded by the Western allies, and Taliban government was removed during this war. Obliteration of training camps and infrastructure of the Al-Qaeda was done by the Western armies with the support of air forces of various countries.
In the result, it has been analyzed that most of the Al-Qaeda was deteriorated and its members spread in different parts of the country in minor groups. Many of the militants were arrested, and mostly, killed during the aerial bombardment by the Western air forces. Initially, success was celebrated in this war; however, still, some of the top leaders including Osama bin Laden has not been caught by the Western forces. Moreover, it has been analyzed and noted by some of the experts that increment of 607 percent has been observed in the attacks by the militant groups, particularly, in the Iraq.
The United States, as well as, Americans in other parts of the world has been noted as in great danger by most of the diplomats around the world. In addition, the War on Terrorism has not been won by the United States and its allies, as noted and believed by approximately eighty-five percent of the experts in the field of foreign policy. Thus, the Al-Qaeda has not been eliminated yet, and attacks are being observed every other day in different parts of the world, predominantly, the places with Western allies and Americans around the world.
It cannot be said that the Al-Qaeda has been eliminated, nor the United States have lost the war. The case study of the Al-Qaeda is still a mystery for some, and conflict for others. Conclusion From the understanding of the mentioned statements, it can be articulated that these acts and thoughts are the result of hatred against the United States, Israel, and other Western countries, rather than an effort of struggling as per the teachings of Islam.
According to their Islamic ideology, these abovementioned countries are taken as the infidels and enemies of the Islam. They take it as these countries are trying to abuse the social, economic, cultural, and traditional values of their religion. Many of the Saudi, Sufi, and Shia scholars, who were results of the previously mentioned Wahhabism, wrote about the United States as the country of corruption, despotism, evil, and aggression. It was considered as a state of spreading abomination and corruption in the world.
The resources being used on wines, cigarettes, and sex channels were the causes of their hatred against these Western countries. In order to dominate their desire of revenge against these states, they portrayed themselves as the true representatives, scholars, and believers of the religion of Islam. Young Muslims were brainwashed and persuaded to sacrifice their lives for the motive of Islam. However, the main objective was to humiliate the enemy, rather than to honor the religion.
The different proclamations of these extremists, such as, the future conquest of Rome and all of the European continent, the state of confrontation with the West, civilians in the infidel states deserve to die, democracy as the religion of the infidels, and considering the West as God’s enemy, are some of the many and various statements given by these extremists, which only portray their personal motives behind these acts, and not the Islamic ideology in any sense.
Many experts, writers, investigators, and analysts have tried their best to analyze the Al-Qaeda’s position, in light of their statements and writings, but it is still a topic of argument due to its anonymity. However, we have tried our best to examine and scrutinize the testimonials of this militant group, in order to decide their role as an Islamic group representing their religious teachings and belief, or an extremist side of coin that is trying to cope up its problems radically.
Conclusively, according to the investigations done by different experts, and facts available for the analysis, Al-Qaeda network do not exhibit or seems to be trying to portray an original picture and ideology, which was given by the Holy Quran or the Messenger of Allah, to the Muslims of the world.
Thus, this paper has studied and discussed initial days of the Al-Qaeda group, the causes that resulted in the extremism of their ideology, and authorities and individuals that have influenced the advancement and development of the Al-Qaeda, which has resulted in deterioration of millions of lives and valuable resources in different parts of the world.
We analyzed during the paper that one of the main purposes of this militant organization is the reestablishment of the caliphate that is the title given to an Islamic leader controlling the political leadership, as well as, religious leadership in the religion of Islam. It is hoped that this paper will help students, teachers, professionals, and experts in the better understanding of the role of Al-Qaeda in the terrorism that has worsened and weakened the peace in the globe. References Brad K. Berner. 2005. The World According to Al-Qaeda.
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