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“”Al-Qaeda's home grown terrorists have a near perfect track record of failing in almost every single terrorist attack - because the only people they're able to recruit now are idiots.
|—Alejandro Beutel, Muslim Public Affairs Council.|
Al-Qaeda (also transliterated al-Qa'ida, Arabic for "The Base") is an Islamist terrorist organization, adhering to a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam. It originated out of the Egyptian Jihadist movement and the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan.
In its current form, it is largely focused on the goal of creating a Sunni Caliphate throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. It is active mostly in unstable countries, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and the Russian federal Republic of Chechnya, and has been especially difficult to pin down for a variety of reasons, among which are its intentionally limited use of technology and its highly decentralized, cellular structure (in fact, it is as much an idea as an organization).
Al-Qaeda is estimated to consist of approximately 200 people, mostly Osama bin Laden's former friends and close followers. The organization does not, as a general rule, recruit members, but rather trains like-minded groups to wage Osama bin Laden's idea of holy war. This terroristic outsourcing makes it difficult to capture actual al-Qaeda members, as distinct from dirt-poor and impressionable insurgents who have merely been trained by al-Qaeda but know nothing about the organization.
Among the acts for which they have credibly claimed responsibility are the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, the bombing of the USS Cole and attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
 Links to the United States
In 1979, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan and by 1984 he was "running a front organization known as Maktab al-Khidamar - the MAK - which funneled money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war." The MAK, which "was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation."
After the Soviets left Afghanistan, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to continue his family's construction business, yet he also had broken from MAK in 1998 to establish al Qaeda, which was composed of the more extremist Islamic elements in MAK.
 See also
- Wahhabism — the original religious foundation of al-Qaeda
- Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant
- ↑ BBC News - An American face of Islam
- ↑ "Al-Qaeda Commander: Islam Doesn't Distinguish Between American People, American Gov't – Both Are Infidels and At War with Islam." The Middle East Media Research Institute. July 24, 2008. 
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Bin Laden comes home to roost: His CIA ties are only the beginning of a woeful story". MSNBC. August 24, 1998.