What Is al-Qaeda?

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The White House is “mulling over” whether or not to use a drone to knock off an “American al-Qaeda.” But nearly 13 years after 9/11 and after the oft-mentioned decimation of the original group, no one in the mainstream media seems to ask one simple question:

What exactly is al-Qaeda?

Is it a group of committed jihadists previously led by Osama bin Laden? Or is it a “brand?”

Is the enemy just the so-called “core” al-Qaeda, or is it now an amorphous conglomerate of affiliates, franchisees and enthusiasts?

If “core al-Qaeda” is, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just said in his most recent congressional testimony, those “remnants” of the original ideological core still in Pakistan and Afghanistan, by what criteria are other groups not self-identifying as “al-Qaeda” then deemed as “designated al-Qaeda”

Considering the President’s State of the Union anti-terrorist to-do list of Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Mali, is al-Qaeda really “on the path to defeat?” Is it “resurgent?” Or is the to-do list just a broad wish list of militants and insurgents not really associated with “core” al-Qaeda?

And now that Osama bin Laden is long-since dead, is Ayman al-Zawahri truly running a massive network of evildoers? Or is he, as CNN’s Peter Bergen wrote in 2012, “a black hole of charisma” who will never fill the void left behind by Osama bin Laden?

Questions are manifold. Answers are, as ever, scarce.

The confusion about al-Qaeda’s role in Syria and Iraq—supposed fronts in the nearly thirteen year war on those responsible for 9/11—illustrates the extent to which an ill-defined al-Qaeda is the crucial element sustaining the War On Terror.

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  • Juan

    Al-Qaeda is a marketing term used by the MIC to put fear into the masses in order to manipulate them into letting TPTB wage illegal wars, torture people, spy on their own citizens and the entire world. It is also a convenient pretext for perpetual war.
    It is clear, that like the devil, if al-Qaeda did not exist, it would be necessary, form the MIC’s POV, to creat it, so that’s what it did. Not complicated.

    • Anti-Crowley

      Al-Qaeda is a term that sticks more in the media than it does in the MIC. The MIC are after numerous groups. Al-Nusra, Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Al-Shaba’ab, Hamas, Hezbollah ect. It’s more about an ideology and interpretation of Islam. People that claim terrorism isn’t real have no experience in any country where these groups actually reside, usually their entire base of knowledge comes from youtube videos about conspiracy. Not exactly the most academic approach.

      • Juan

        I consider the media very much a part of MIC. They fall under the “I” for industry of the MIC. They certainly are an industry, the propaganda industry.
        Based on how this Empire has behaved all over the planet, it is not the least bit surprising that there are actual groups of people who would like to do much harm to the US.
        However, it is clear that actual threats are blown out of proportion for the reasons stated in my original post.

  • BuzzCoastin

    al-Qaeda is Der Homeland
    Der Homeland is al-Qaeda
    ya can’t have one without the other
    and
    the dog was wagged by this tale

  • WTFMFWOMG

    To paraphrase the late, great, neocon demigod Leo Strauss:
    “People are best united against other people.”
    “If an enemy does not exist, one must be created.”
    Al-Qaeda has been, still is, and always will be an asset of the Military-Industrial-Complex. Without them, stock in MIC corporations would go down. Simple as that.

  • Zachary Reed

    How can we have a war on terror. You can’t go to war with a feeling. The only way to stop terror is to not be afraid. What it is is exactly that, self perpetuating legitimized justification to make money and perpetuate a false economy. And by the definition of terrorist “one who causes terror”, we are all terrorists. Have you scared, or caused terror, in one single person in your life? Terrorist.

    They are criminals, murderers, thugs, nothing more. Call em what they are. They should frighten you as much as someone breaking into your house. If you’re deathly frightened of things, to be so scared as to be unable to function in reality, go live in a hole. Otherwise, go about your lives and be free. People just have to understand that there are bad people who do bad things. It shouldn’t cripple a nation. It shouldn’t be used as a tool to strip freedom and rights from the people. It shouldn’t be used as justification to promote war and strong-arm small nations to give us more direct control of them, or to antagonize another larger nation. It shouldn’t be used for profit.

    (not directed at anyone in particular, just adding this for thought)

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