Introduction to Terrorism
Al-Qaeda is a Salafist Mujahideen Terrorist Organization. It is Internationalist in nature. It is one of the few Salafist Jihad Organizations which operate globally, and not just within the boundaries of their native land.
Al-Qaeda works on the Salafist Jihad Ideology. This ideology is based on empowering the Islamic Caliphate and bringing it back to power. They believe that the Western influence is driving the world away from the Islamic ways of living. And that this ‘problem’ can only be solved if all impure, non-Islamic, foreign governments and empires are removed. They see the United States as the most powerful source of Western influence driving the population away from Islam which is why all their attacks and operations are based on attacking the United States. This ideology is based on mass-killing, to show the great sacrifice in the name of Islam. They feel the western influence is so strong that violence is the only means by which it can be tackled and abolished.
Recruitment and Funding
Al-Qaeda’s greatest vulnerability is its Social Contacts and Networking. This allows them to not only obtain the much needed funds, but also recruit the best men for their operations.
Al-Qaeda’s recruitment is qualitative, rather than being quantitative. They select men through a process of close observation and analysis, ensuring they are not snitches, and are perfect for the operations. Al-Qaeda’s recruitment strategies are somewhat based on the “propaganda against US”; however, they recruit largely through social networking and Muslim “brotherhood.” The members of Al-Qaeda create social networks within Muslim areas such as mosques; thus identifying potential members and attracting them to the promises and heavenly promises of working with Al-Qaeda.
They also prefer to recruit men who are familiar with the western world, because such people are of good use in the operations department. In a study of 400 Muslim Terrorists of Al-Qaeda: 70 percent were recruited outside their own countries, 68 percent through friendship and 20 percent through kinship. Al-Qaeda looks for people who are vulnerable, searching for Muslim friends; and then it drives those people into its web, with the help of promises of better Islamically stable future.
Another factor which helps with the recruitment is the training camps that Al-Qaeda has set up. The training camps act as an open opportunity for Muslim brothers with a salafist Jihad ideology, to come meet similar minded people. These training camps allow for Al-Qaeda to identify the best of the men and recruit them.
Al-Qaeda also recruits and allows for allies to be formed with other Salafist Jihad Organizations; for example, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), some members of al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin.
Another factor which Al-Qaeda not only looks for in leaders, but also the members that it recruits, is the social contact status. One must have a strong social network, with rich contacts in order to be a leader of Al-Qaeda. Planning and operations is one thing, but if a person cannot obtain funds for the organization, then he does not fit to be the leader of Al-Qaeda.
Taking Osama bin Laden for example; he has strong contacts to numerous rich Saudi royal families. Hence, he could provide the much needed funding for the organization to be functional.
Al-Qaeda requires funding for operations and planning, recruitment, food, shelter, training, weapons and propaganda. Thus, it requires large sums of money in order to be functional, since all of its members are not exactly “financially stable.” Such Salafist Jihad Organizations usually obtain their money through donations, charity namely Zakat; various businesses and trade, and also through illegal means such as drugs, forgery, kidnapping, trafficking, and so forth.
Al-Qaeda, since the start has depended on charity and donations. Through its well established social network, it is able to obtain donations and charities from various places. One of its largest sources of funds is Saudi Arabia. In 2003, UN Security Council reported that $800 million is donated by Saudi Arabia annually to Al-Qaeda for its anti-US operations. Other institutions may include Al-Haramain Foundation and many others.
Al-Qaeda also obtains a lot of Zakat money from different institutions. The brokers from those institutions, take the money people give as zakat, and funnel it directly to Al-Qaeda; again an understanding built through the strong social contacts.
Other than donations, Al-Qaeda also runs cover up businesses, such as biomedical labs, trading companies, computer firms, investments in gemstones and Gold, Opium trade, alien smuggling, and so forth.
An organization such as Al-Qaeda is only strong because of its Social Network which allows it to recruit all the best people and obtain money. They would be nothing; if it wasn’t for the donations and funds that they receive. An organization with no money to fund the training, its members can most certainly never be successful in carrying out strategic operations such as the 9/11. So yes, it is of utmost importance to identify the money sources of an organization, and to cut them, in order to stop further operations.
Killing the major leaders would only create a temporary setback, for they can be replaced; however cutting off the major financial sources will create a long time problem. Just it was stated in one place, “Osama did not fly the 9/11 plane, his money did,” is so true! The bombs they use in mass killing, all the weapons, they all come from money. If the money isn’t there, then neither will those weapons be so easily available, automatically creating barriers for such organizations to execute their plans. Tracking terrorist attacks, and killing leaders is not the solution, however identifying their bases, their training camps and facilities, the money sources, and shutting those down will help “fight” terrorism.
Ward, B.D (2005). Osama’s Wake: The Second Generation of Al Qaeda. Web.