Al Qaeda and its Affiliates in 2013

April 25, 2013

Al Qaeda is the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988. The group’s ideology is founded on the premise that Muslims who follow secular leaders are treating these leaders as gods, and therefore, are apostates because they are disobeying the first principle in Islam, the assertion that “There is no deity but Allah.” Adherents to this ideology claim to be defending Islam when they kill these Muslims and Westerners who advocate or support this form of apostasy. Al Qaeda’s goal is to liberate Muslim lands of “apostate” governments and establish an Islamic state, a caliphate, in their stead.

Osama bin Laden envisioned al Qaeda as a global network that led the jihad against the United States, the West, and allied Muslim governments. The group known today as al Qaeda core serves as the center of the al Qaeda network, which now also includes groups recognized by the al Qaeda emir, or leader, as affiliates. These are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Shabaab, al Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus. Recovered al Qaeda correspondence, especially from the Abbottabad raid, reveals continued communications about ongoing developments and operations between senior leaders in Pakistan and leaders of affiliated groups.

Last updated July 17, 2013.