World map from 1910.

Separatist, Para-military, Military,
Intelligence, and Political Organizations

Organizations Using the Internet

Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Ladin, the Taliban, and their supporters

Modified 24 April 2009

Do note that in places I have to rely on the interpretation of others, as many pages are in languages I don't read — Urdu, Arabic, etc.

Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islami, or Taliban — Actually a political-military group created by Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence service), the Taliban are Pashtun religious students ("taleban" means "student" in Turkic and other central Asian languages) who live on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border. See the Afganistan section for the recent history of Afghan political movements, and see the Pakistan section for current and upcoming Pakistani militant movements. The Taliban were only recognized as the national government of Afghanistan by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates.

al-Qaeda and Osama bin Ladin — funded the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August, 1998. "The organization that eventually evolved into al-Qaeda (the name means 'the base' in Arabic) began as the Makhtab al Khadimat, the Office of Services, the Peshawar, Pakistan [....]" [New York Times, 9 June 2002, pp 1,26,27].

An excellent article in The New Yorker (2 Aug 2004, pp 40-53) describes al-Qaeda's use of the Internet. There are two online magazine, Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Jihad) and Muaskar al-Battar (Camp al-Battar). The real operational and recruiting material is now hosted on hacked servers, the Arkansas Department of Highways and Transporation found itself hosting al-Qaeda pages for a few days in July 2004. Sympathizers get on e-mail lists and receive daily updates as to where to find the current site.

Ayman Wasfy wrote an interesting analysis in the article "How to Destroy al-Qaeda" in the Fall 2009 issue of Counter Terrorism [Vol. 15, No. 3, pp 26-30], from the International Association for Counter-Terrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP). You might find the article on-line here or here. He points out that the Quran contrasts those who strive (al-mujahidun) with those who sit idle (al-qaedin) when it discusses jihad, which of course means "striving", not slaughtering innocents. He cites Quranic passages 4:95, 9.46, 9:83, 9:86, 9:90, and 5:24 in a rather convincing analysis. Two derivatives, aqaedan and qawaed are used with the meaning of "hinder" (7:16) and "stopped" or "stopping" (24:60, 2:127, 16:26), respectively. He says:

So generally speaking, in the Quran the term al-qaeda has the meaning of "the idle", "the hinderer", and "the stopped". Specifically, in the context of striving (jihad) it is always used to mean the direct opposite of jihad. So the name Al-Qaeda, which for almost the entire world has come to symbolize extreme Islamic Jihad actually means the exact opposite of what the common noun jihad (striving) means. Moreover, extremists who associate with Al-Qaeda boast to be pious fundamentalist devotees, but in the Quran, hypocrites, those who deny God and his messenger, and even the devil himself are associated with the term!

David Blankenhorn wrote a very good overview of the terminology of jihadi or jihadist [see Chicago Tribune, 16 Feb 2003, section 2, pp 1, 3, 4] showing that those labeling themselves as jihadi are "a minority of a minority of a minority", a statistically insignificant fraction of Muslims:

Ronald Reagan meets with Mujahadeen leaders in 1985 and says, 'These Gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America's Founding Fathers.'

Ronald Reagan meets with Mujahadeen leaders in 1985 and says, "These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America's Founding Fathers." Some of them went on to become Taliban leaders. Be careful what you wish for.

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