al Qaeda

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Al-Qaeda , also al-Qaeda ( Arabic القاعدة, DMG al-qāʿida  , the basis, the foundation ' [alˈqaːʕɪda] , in pronouncements also Tanzīm Qāʿidat al-Jihād  /تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد / tanẓīm qāʿidat al-ǧihād  / 'Organization of the Jihad Base'), is a loose, globally operating terror network of mostly Sunni - Islamist organizations that has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in several countries since 1993, mostly in connection with letters of confession, and with numerous global political attacks Events related. Many of the attacks carried out by the network are considered to be mass terrorist murders of civilians .

The organization was first noticed in the world after the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the foiled mass murder known as Operation Bojinka during World Youth Day in Manila in 1995 . Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , it has determined world events as a permanent Islamist threat. The declared goal of al-Qaeda is the establishment of a state of God for all "orthodox" believers that encompasses all Islamic countries and areas as well as other territories . Interim goals are to go to war with the western states, which it believes are leading a global anti-Islamic conspiracy, and to bring about the annihilation of Israel .

Al-Qaeda is viewed by the United Nations as a terrorist organization and member states have an obligation to enforce sanctions against individuals and groups associated with it. In addition, al-Qaeda is classified as a terrorist organization by the European Union, its members and numerous other states and organizations. Al-Qaeda is judged by Germany, among others, by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the United States as the first transnational terrorist organization , and these two countries regard it as a “prototype” for this type of terrorism .

On May 2, 2011 the founder and ideological leader of the organization, Osama bin Laden , was killed by American forces during Operation Neptune's Spear in Abbottabad , around 50 km from the Pakistani capital Islamabad .

Spelling and pronunciation

So far there is no uniform spelling of the name in German. The Duden lists the spellings Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda , but refers to the main entry Al Qaeda . In the German-language press there are other spellings, such as Al-Qaeda , al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda (also often in the US media). The German-speaking news agencies have meanwhile agreed on the spelling of Al-Qaeda . The reason for the many variants lies in the problem of transcribing from Arabic, especially since the first consonant ( Qaf ) has no counterpart in German and English.

Since the name has two sounds that are foreign to the German language (and many other languages) (the addressed Qaf and the inAin ), correct pronunciation is difficult for non-native speakers of Arabic. The Qaf ([q],ق) is to be pronounced like a "suppository-k" (at the point where the ach sound is articulated in Standard German and Swiss German ), the Ain ([ʕ],ع) is a voiced pharyngeal or pharyngeal sound that transitions from the long vowel a to the short vowel i . However, one comes close to the Arabic pronunciation when one pronounces the first consonant ( q / k ) as k; the following a and the i are pronounced as a diphthong , although the a can be spoken much longer than the i . The i can be spoken as a short e to mimic the influence of the ain. The stress is on the first syllable. (The result is the pronunciation al kaaida or al kaaeda , the stress is on the syllable kaa .)


Osama bin Laden founder and leader of al-Qaeda until his death on May 2, 2011

The emergence of al-Qaeda is linked to the onset of the Islamic Awakening in the early 1970s. Ideologically, the movement was influenced to a large extent by Sayyid Qutb's writings, particularly his martial script Signs on the Path . In the words of Mohammed Jamal Chalifa (1957–2007), a school friend and relative of Osama bin Laden, reading Qutb's books shaped his entire generation. The most significant influence within Qutb's ideology was his view that many people who call themselves Muslims are actually God- deniers.

The Palestinian theologian Abdallah Azzam has been campaigning from Pakistan for financial and personal support for the fight of the Mujahideen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan since the early 1980s and also provided an ideological foundation for the jihad in Afghanistan. In 1983 he published a fatwa in the Kuwaiti magazine al-Mudschtamaʿ , in which he declared support for this struggle to be a duty for every Muslim. This is also the theme of his book, published in 1984, entitled "The Defense of the Land of Muslims is the Most Important of Personal Duties" ( Ad-difāʿ ʿan arāḍī al-muslimīn ahamm furūḍ al-aʿyān ).

Together with Osama bin Laden, Abdallah Azzam opened a service office in Peshawar in 1984 in order to be able to take in, look after and organize young men from various Arab countries who wanted to go into jihad in Afghanistan .


In a brochure entitled “Join the caravan!” ( Ilḥaq bi-l-qāfila ), Abdallah Azzam called in April 1987 to establish a “solid base” ( qāʿida sulba ) for the spread of Islam. A year later he published an article in his journal al- Jihad entitled The Solid Base ( al-qāʿida as-sulba ), in which he feared that the United States might later "seize the fruits of this wonderful jihad" and " prevent laws from being enacted according to the Book of God. ”“ The solid base, ”he wrote, defied international pressure and had decided“ to continue their exhausting march on a path full of blood, sweat and tears. ”The Muslims should Support the “solid base” through donations of money and with one's own life and continue the jihad until “until the last person or until we see the Islamic State”.

The expression “the solid base” al-qāʿida as-sulba , known in the West as “al-Qaida” for short, gave its name to the group of fighters who wanted to continue the jihad with Osama bin Laden after the end of the Afghanistan mission and the other jihadist groups. She was named by the Syrian-born US citizen Mohammed Loay Bayazid (also known as Abu Rida al Suri), one of the participants in the meeting of the leaders of the "Arab Afghans" in Peshawar on August 11, 1988 , when the group was founded from the beginning with the name al-Qaeda . "Al-Qaeda" also became the name for the training base from which Osama bin Laden's fighters operated. Osama bin Laden later turned his fight primarily against the presence of the Americans in his native Saudi Arabia. Azzam, on the other hand, no longer played a role. He was killed in an attack in Peshawar in 1989.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States' embassies in Dar-es-Salam and Nairobi on August 7, 1998 , the name "al-Qaeda" appeared in Western media for the first time. CNN reported on August 29, 1998 about Mohamed Saddiq Odeh , who told the FBI about training camps of the international terrorist group "al-Qaeda", which was allegedly led by bin Laden. Odeh was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the embassy attacks.

The term "al-Qaeda" was also used for a database maintained by the CIA, which lists all jihad fighters who passed through Osama bin Laden's camp.


The Office for the Protection of the Constitution assumes that centralized leadership of the organization by Aiman ​​az-Zawahiri is no longer possible due to the pressure of searches, and describes al-Qaeda as a “virtual organization that provides impetus for those involved”. Other observers also see al-Qaeda as an umbrella organization under whose name largely autonomous cells with similar ideology and overlapping goals gather. An existence as a “leaderless network” with small groups scattered all over the country without a chain of command and a list of members should make infiltration by the police and secret services more difficult.

The ideological head of this network was the Saudi Osama bin Laden until his death on May 2, 2011 . The assumption made in the meantime that he perished at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2002 was not confirmed, as bin Laden spoke in video messages in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

An Islamist group has been operating in North Africa since 1998 and has called itself al-Qaeda in the Maghreb since 2007 . It is not formally integrated into al-Qaeda structures, but ideologically related.


For many years, the founder and leader of the organization was the former building contractor Osama bin Laden , who came from an influential Saudi Arabian family . Rumors that Osama bin Laden was dead, which had been spread over the Internet for years, were not confirmed until he was killed on May 2, 2011 in a US operation . However, it is assumed that bin Laden no longer directly headed the organization, but took over this role from Aiman ​​az-Zawahiri , who has possibly also been the ideological head of the network since then.

The other executives include or included:

Anwar al-Awlaki was considered the highest-ranking member of the network with US citizenship. He was killed in an air strike in Yemen in September 2011.

Other known members are or were:

Ideology and motivation

Basically, the ideology represented by al-Qaeda is an extreme form of Islamism , more precisely Qutbism , which sees jihad against allegedly un- or anti-Islamic countries, governments, religious communities and ethnic groups as the only way to defend the interests of the Represent Islam. In the sense of Sayyid Qutb's writings , Al-Qaeda assumes that the only answer to the fact that Islam cannot fulfill its due role in the world is a conspiracy of large parts of the world against Islam, that of Israel, the USA and Western European countries. Al-Qaeda is also convinced that as long as Israel exists and political and cultural influences from the West subvert Muslim society, Islam cannot be united.

Al-Qaeda sees various religious teachings and messages that it takes from the Koran as legitimation for its actions . For this purpose, she mainly refers to the so-called original form of Islam, which, according to the interpretation, focuses on the war against the infidels, their conversion and the unification of all Muslims under a common caliphate . In large parts of the organization, among other things, a fundamental anti-Semitism resulting from the decades-long struggle with Israel can be observed. Some al-Qaeda members like Mohammed Atta have or had a worldview similar to National Socialism (example: terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , in which New York was chosen as the alleged center of “world Jewry”). In this worldview, Jews are seen as irreconcilable infidels or even anti-Muslims who controlled the democratic liberalist countries and earlier also the socialist states and turned them against Islam. The two systems allegedly created and controlled by the alleged original enemy are the chosen arch enemies of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda fights these two ideologies less for what they do than for what they embody: socialism for the equality of all people , which it preaches, and above all for the atheism preferred by its followers and the western liberal countries for theirs societies seen as unrestrained and unreligious.

In an interview in 1999, Osama bin Laden stated that there are no civilians for him and his followers , only enemies, and killing them is the sacred duty of every Muslim without exception.

The first attacks were carried out as early as the 1990s, such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center . The Clinton administration's counter-terrorism operations began thereafter and, following the terrorist attacks on the United States' embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, led to air strikes on al-Qaeda bases in Sudan and Afghanistan. In 2000, an attack by Islamists on the Strasbourg Christmas market was thwarted by German security authorities. An originally suspected connection to the al-Qaida terror network could not be proven in court. The reason for this attack attempt was that Germany, apart from the USA, is Israel's closest ally. Furthermore, as in other European countries, the way of life that is perceived as permissive, sinful and vulgar (illegitimate sexual intercourse, alcohol consumption, legal homosexuality) is assessed as an imposition for the Muslims living in Germany.

Al-Qaeda also relies on propaganda , especially in Arab and Muslim societies. She sees acts of violence as a means of uniting all Muslims in the "liberation struggle" against the dominance of the West. At the same time, acts of terrorism against Muslim civilians are accepted as “collaborators” or as accidental victims of terrorism. According to bin Laden's last appeals , the main area of ​​battle is Iraq ; the vast majority of the victims, like the perpetrators themselves, are members of Islam. What is new is the legitimation of suicide attacks, which were previously not widespread due to religious reservations.

Al-Qaeda itself has little support from Iraqis and is particularly supported by foreign terrorists. The association has increased support in Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. In addition to political causes such as ongoing civil wars, traditional oppression, the long-standing tradition of slavery, human trafficking and contempt for women, particularly strict interpretations of Islam such as Wahhabism and backward tribal cultures such as Pashtunwali are seen as the cause.

Al-Qaeda thinkers also refer to Islamist guidelines, according to which every form of state and society outside of the Sharia is reprehensible and it is therefore legitimate to destroy the world of "infidels" with acts of terrorism. The assassins are mostly young men from poor backgrounds. Other assassins, especially those involved in major operations such as September 11, 2001, are highly educated academics. Some of the leaders and leaders, such as the founder and symbolic figure Osama bin Laden, have an upper-class background.

In Iraq in particular, western soldiers are also known as " crusaders ". The background is the aftermath of the massacre of Maarath an-Numan (1098).

Strategic goals

Bounty leaflet

Al-Qaeda’s ultimate goals are not short-term; the network does not expect them to be achieved for years or decades. The main motive is not necessarily to enforce these goals yourself, but to set a chain of events in motion which should ultimately lead to the desired result. Because the hard core of al-Qaeda works in secret, including false flag operations, its real goals are difficult to determine. In addition, there are connections to other Islamist movements that also pursue their own interests.

However, Osama bin Laden , Khalid Sheikh Mohammed , Aiman al -Zawahiri and other al-Qaida leaders have created goals which the network tries to achieve with all means at its disposal.

Al-Qaeda is spending a large part of its efforts on war or jihad against the West, as this is the main obstacle to all subsequent steps due to its economic and power-political dominance. In addition, she regards the cooperation and support of some western states (especially the United States and France ) from some Arab countries ( Jordan , Saudi Arabia , United Arab Emirates , Lebanon ) as interference in internal Arab affairs, the purpose of which is to unify the prevent the Islamic world and strengthen the position of Israel . Al-Qaeda wages this war primarily with terrorist attacks against civilian targets in the target countries in order to terrorize the population, politically destabilize the country and damage the economy. Often tourists are also the target of attacks in Muslim countries. Closely related to this is the attack on the spreading western way of life and the export of values ​​to the Islamic cultural area. The aim here is to protect Muslim society from Western influences ( jurisprudence that is not based on Sharia law, the opportunity for Muslim-born people to choose their religion freely , gender equality, women who are undisguised in public, alcohol consumption, legal homosexuality, illegitimate intercourse, ...).

In the meantime, desired results include, in addition to the successful execution of terrorist attacks, the positioning of sleepers in opposing structures, if possible in key positions or the recruitment of like-minded people who are already in corresponding positions (e.g. Nidal Malik Hasan ) and the global merger and the Networking of Islamist and jihadist movements and groups. (Close contact with local rulers such as the Taliban , joint operations planning and coordinated actions with terrorist organizations already integrated into the network such as the Laschkar e-Taiba or Abu Sajaf ).

Al-Qaeda also combats all non-governmental organizations that pose a threat to al-Qaeda and its goals. This is especially true for Interpol and the United Nations . This is mainly because the UN, as the guardian of the existing conditions and with its peace efforts, endangers the goals of al-Qaeda. For example, UN programs in Somalia, such as the peace missions UNOSOM I , UNOSOM II , and the Somali UN interim government in the early 1990s , helped to prevent the Islamist, al-Qaeda-affiliated movement in Somalia from taking full control of the country. In addition, the United Nations has passed numerous resolutions to curb the transnational terrorism of al-Qaeda. (Obligation of UN member states to enforce sanctions against persons who are connected to al-Qaida, list of al-Qaida members, ISAF use , provisions against the spread of weapons of mass destruction ).

The bases for all these actions are often Islamist states such as Sudan or Afghanistan in the past or remote tribal areas such as currently North Yemen or the Pashtun region and other regions in Pakistan , where they are secretly supported by parts of the Pakistani secret service ISI , which has been infiltrated by Islamists . In many cases the bases are also in large cities such as Lahore, Karachi or Baghdad. In not a few cases, the international command center for major operations is located in major western cities, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in Hamburg or the thwarted attacks on transatlantic scheduled flights in London. As in the failed attacks in Germany in 2007, other al-Qaeda cells operate from a village in the Sauerland and are only connected to the rest of the network via a liaison officer. Nonetheless, bases in Islamist countries are most beneficial for al-Qaeda, but since the US air strikes on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 and the fall of the Taliban in 2001, it has no longer had any government-approved bases (at least none known) at its disposal. Therefore, one of the main goals of al-Qaeda is to promote the installation of Islamist regimes in politically unstable Muslim states so that they can be used as bases for all subsequent actions.

One of the most important goals is the overthrow of the Saudi royal family and all other governments in predominantly Muslim countries that are not governed according to Islamic principles or work with or are friends with non-Islamic powers ( Jordan , Pakistan , Egypt ...) Islamic law ( Sharia ) based on the Koran in all Muslim countries.

Since the early 1990s, al-Qaeda has been closely networked with Muslim separatist groups whose goals overlap with those of bin Laden's network. The detachment of all Muslim areas and regions from predominantly non-religious countries ( Mindanao from the Philippines , Dagestan , Chechnya , Ufa , and Tatarstan from Russia , Ogaden from Ethiopia , Kosovo from Serbia ...) is seen as an important step towards unifying Islam . During the Bosnian War there were numerous atrocities committed by the Mujahideen , among others under the leadership of the Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Army , Rasim Delić , against Serbs and Croats in central Bosnia and the Ozren region, see Mujahideen in the Bosnian War . Under the orders of Osama bin Laden , al-Qaeda supporters fought with the Bosnian army on the front lines throughout the war. Al-Qaeda supporters also fought alongside the KLA in Kosovo .

At this point in time, al-Qaeda hopes that the West has already been militarily defeated and is economically on the ground, so that it expects to have a free hand for all further actions:

  • Above all, the destruction of the State of Israel and the expulsion or elimination of its Jewish residents.
  • The previous elimination or weakening of the protective power USA and its allies ( France , Great Britain , Germany , Italy ...) as potential protective powers.
  • The recapture of all areas that were ever Muslim ( Andalusia , Crimea ...)
  • The recapture of all areas that were ever ruled by Islamic rulers (India, Portugal, Spain minus Asturias, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, parts of East Africa).
  • And finally, the unification of all these countries and areas into a global caliphate governed by Islamic law for all orthodox believers.

Attributed attacks

Due to the enormous number of terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda or related organizations and the fact that al-Qaeda is by no means always committed to them, it is almost impossible to draw up a complete list of the attacks it has committed. In addition, there are numerous, often largely unknown, foiled attacks, such as that of Operation Bojinka . The following list therefore only shows individual attacks that are known in this country. The actual number of terrorist attacks perpetrated by the movement around the world is thought to be several thousand.

The number of victims of the al-Qaida attacks can hardly be determined. The terrorist attacks in Iraq , Afghanistan , Pakistan , North Africa , India and Southeast Asia , in particular by the thousands of al-Qaida itself or its affiliated organizations, are likely to have killed a high five-digit number of people. The number of victims claimed in wars caused by al-Qaida, and in particular civil wars , is far higher.

Attacks attributed to al-Qaeda terrorist group (November 2009)


  • November 1991: The Portuguese convert Paulo Jose de Almeida Santo assassinated the former king of Afghanistan Mohammed Zahir Shah in his exile in Rome to prevent him from returning to Afghanistan and leading a new government. The attack failed.


  • February 26, 1993: Bomb attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 in New York : six dead, approx. 1,000 injured. The aim of the attack was to use the bomb that detonated in the underground car park to topple the two twin towers, along with tens of thousands of people working in them and thousands of tourists, onto downtown Manhattan . Despite the enormous explosive power of the bomb, the structure of the building held up. The underground car park and offices on the lower floors were largely destroyed. Had the attack gone as planned, up to 100,000 people would have died.
  • June 24, 1993: In New York, after the attack on the World Trade Center, a terrorist attack on the UN headquarters , the George Washington Bridge , the FBI headquarters in New York and other targets is foiled. Those arrested were members of the Egyptian organization Gamaa Islamija, which is financially supported by al-Qaeda . If the attack had taken place, several thousand people could have lost their lives. During the preparations for the attack on the UN building, Sudanese diplomats supported the planning.



  • September 5, 1995: Operation Bojinka is thwarted in advance. Planned murder of 4,000 aircraft passengers by blowing up eleven passenger planes over the Pacific , murder plot against Pope John Paul II and thousands of young people by twenty suicide bombers during World Youth Day in Manila, which is attended by four million believers .
  • November 13, 1995: Explosives attack on a US military facility in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), killing seven people.


Attack on the Khobar Tower in 1996 in Zahran, near an air force base of the USA and Saudi Arabia
  • June 25, 1996: Explosives attack with a truck on the Khobar Tower near the Saudi-American air force base in Zahran (Saudi Arabia). 19 dead, 64 injured.


  • November 17, 1997: Luxor attack in 1997 . Al-Qaeda-funded massacre of tourists near Luxor, Egypt, killing 68.


Bomb attack on the US embassy in Nairobi, 1998


  • December 31, 1999 - January 1, 2000: A plan to detonate a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport at the turn of the millennium is foiled by US authorities on December 14th.


  • October 12, 2000: Attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67) in the port of Aden ( Yemen ), 17 dead and 39 injured.
  • December 24, 2000: According to the authorities, at least 18 people are killed and 100 injured in nationwide bomb attacks against Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve. The attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah .
  • 30.-31. December 2000: At least 22 people die in a series of bomb attacks in Manila and 100 are injured, some seriously. The attacks were carried out by the Abu Sajaf .
Destruction in New York after the 9/11 attacks


  • September 9, 2001: Suicide attack in the Afghan Punjjir Valley on Ahmad Shah Massoud , who died shortly afterwards from his injuries.
  • September 11, 2001: Terrorist attacks in the United States , almost 3,000 deaths, the number of acutely injured people is well over 6,000, but the exact number is unknown. 17,410 people escaped the burning World Trade Center . Other circumstances saved the lives of many people; the plane that was supposed to crash into the Capitol never arrived there, and the machine that was being steered into the Pentagon hit a part of the building that was hardly used due to renovation work.
  • September 13, 2001: A plan to attack the US embassy in Paris is foiled.
  • October 1, 2001: 38 people are killed in five bomb attacks on a complex of administration buildings in Srinagar . Executed by Jaish-e Mohammed .
  • October 29, 2001: 16 people are killed in a massacre in a church in Bahawalpur , Pakistan .
  • December 9, 2001: A plan for massive terrorist attacks involving 17 tons of explosives and chemicals is foiled in Singapore . Four tons of it were already available to the terrorists at the time of the first anti-terrorist action by the authorities. Most of the sleeper cell , which had been active in Singapore since 1993, was arrested by the end of December . The targets were the American and Israeli embassies, the British and Australian high commissions as well as several office buildings and skyscrapers in the financial district.
  • December 22, 2001: During American Airlines flight 63 , the British citizen Richard Reid tried to blow up the plane on its way to Miami two hours after taking off from Paris airport. He is overwhelmed by flight attendants and passengers.


  • January 5, 2002: British authorities foil a terrorist attack on the London Underground. According to the police, the terrorists also planned to use the biological weapon ricin .
  • January 23, 2002: US journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Pakistan and murdered about six days later.
  • March 17, 2002: Hand grenade attack on a church in Islamabad (Pakistan), five dead.
  • April 11, 2002: Bomb attack on the al-Ghriba synagogue in Djerba ( Tunisia ), 19 dead, including 14 Germans.
  • May 8, 2002: 14 people die in an attack on engineers from France in Karachi (Pakistan).
  • May 14, 2002: After an attack on a tourist bus in Kaluchak, India, in the Kashmir region, several members of the Laschkar e-Taiba massacre in a housing estate, killing 31.
  • June 14, 2002: Twelve people died in a car bomb attack in front of the US consulate in Karachi.
  • September 5, 2002: 26 people die in a car bomb attack in Kabul (Afghanistan); Afghan President Karzai barely survives.
  • October 2, 2002: 11 people are killed and 180 injured in a series of attacks in Zamboanga City , Philippines. Executed by the Abu Sajaf.
  • October 6, 2002: A person dies in an attack on the French oil tanker Limburg in Yemen.
  • October 12, 2002: 202 people, mostly tourists, most of them Australians, died in the bombings against discotheques in Bali ( Indonesia ).
  • October 28, 2002: In Amman ( Jordan ), an American aid worker shot.
  • November 28, 2002: Attacks on Israeli tourists in Mombasa, Kenya . A car bomb attack on a hotel kills 16 people and injures 80. At the same time, several men try to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane with Strela-2 rockets .
  • December 21, 2002: Attack on a railway line in Kurnool, India, killing 20, injuring 80. Executed by Laschkar e-Taiba
  • December 30, 2002: In jibla ( Yemen ) three American doctors were shot.


  • March 5, 2003: Bomb attack on Davao City Airport with 21 dead and 148 injured.
  • May 12, 2003: 35 people died in an attack on a residential area of ​​foreigners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • May 14, 2003: Four people died in an attack in a courthouse in Yemen .
  • May 16, 2003: In five attacks on foreign and Jewish institutions in Morocco , another 32 people died in addition to the attackers .
  • June 7, 2003: Four German soldiers died in an attack on a German Bundeswehr bus in Afghanistan.
  • August 5, 2003: Twelve people died in an attack in front of a hotel in Jakarta .
  • August 7, 2003: Bomb attack with a truck on the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad , 17 dead and 40 injured.
  • August 19, 2003: 22 people are killed and 100 injured in a suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad .
  • August 29, 2003: More than 125 people are killed and over 500 injured in a car bomb attack on the Shiite Imam Ali mosque .
  • November 8, 2003: 18 people died in an attack on a residential area of ​​foreigners in Saudi Arabia.
  • November 12, 2003: An attack on Italian soldiers in Nasiriya kills 28 people, including 17 Italian soldiers and 103 injured.
  • November 15 and November 20, 2003: In a total of four attacks in Istanbul , two of which occur at the same time, a total of 57 people die and over 700 are injured. The destinations were Jewish synagogues and British institutions.
The attacks carried out by the movement in Iraq resulted in the highest civilian casualties
Series of attacks in Baghdad on December 4, 2004


  • February 2, 2004: In Erbil , northern Iraq , two suicide attacks on an event kill a significant part of the Kurdish political leadership as well as numerous visitors. The attack was aimed at the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which, after the end of the Saddam Hussein regime, took over a strong self-government. A total of 117 people are killed and 133 injured.
  • February 27, 2004: attack on SuperFerry 14 ; The Philippine ferry SuperFerry 14 with 900 passengers on board is sunk in a bomb attack in Manila Bay . There were 116 deaths. The attack was carried out by the Abu Sajaf .
  • March 2, 2004: During the Shiite Ashura festival, 178 people are murdered and over 500 injured in an internationally planned terrorist attack in Karbala and Baghdad. This devastating attack on this sensitive day for the Shiites, especially in Karbala , is seen as one of the main reasons for the later escalation of violence between the population groups in Iraq.
  • March 11, 2004: 191 people die in attacks on fully occupied commuter trains in Madrid . 2051 are injured. Three bombs are defused. One of them would have had enough explosive power to completely destroy Madrid's Atocha Central Station .
  • May 13, 2004: 67 people are killed and 100 injured in attacks in Kerbala and Najaf.
  • June 18, 2004: 35 civilians are killed and 145 injured in an attack on an Iraqi army recruitment office in Baghdad.
  • June 24, 2004: An attack on US soldiers distributing sweets to Iraqi children kills 41 people (including 35 children) and injures 141 (including many US soldiers).
  • September 14, 2004: 47 people are killed and 114 injured in an attack on police headquarters in Baghdad.
  • October 7, 2004: 34 people were murdered in Taba and Ra's Schaitan ( Moon Island Village ).


  • July 7, 2005: Attacks on London Underground stations and buses . At least 56 people were killed and at least 700 others injured. It is still unclear whether there was a connection between the attackers living in England and al-Qaeda.
  • July 16, 2005: A suicide bomber sets off his explosives vest in a crowded market in Mussayyib, Iraq, right next to a gas tank truck. 100 people die and 150 more are injured.
  • July 23, 2005: Three attacks in Sharm El Sheikh , Egypt from 1:15 a.m. At least 88 people died in a car bomb explosion. Most of the victims are tourists as the car bomb explodes in a hotel. In March 2011, a memo surfaced on the Internet that could be read as saying that the attacks were not carried out by the previously unknown split from al-Qaeda, which had claimed responsibility for the attacks, but by a “secret political department” of the Egyptian Interior Ministry. However, it has not yet been possible to determine whether this memo is genuine.
  • August 19, 2005: The Abdallah Azzam Brigades take responsibility for the rocket attacks on US warships and the Israeli city of Eilat .
  • August 28, 2005: In the south of the Philippines there is a bomb attack on a passenger ferry, in which at least 30 people are injured. The authorities assume that the Abu Sayyaf group, which is close to al-Qaeda, is behind the attack.
  • September 14, 2005: An attack on job seekers in Baghdad kills 160 people and injures 570. According to al-Qaeda, the target was Shiites.
  • October 1, 2005: Bali attack in 2005 . A bomb attack in Bali kills 23 people and injures 129.
  • October 29, 2005: bombings in Delhi ; 62 people are killed and 210 injured in three attacks in Delhi, India. These were carried out by the Laschkar e-Taiba.
  • November 2, 2005: 74 people are killed and over 100 injured in two car bomb attacks in Baghdad.
  • November 9, 2005: Series of explosions in three Jordanian luxury hotels with around 67 dead and around 300 injured.
A wrecked train in Mumbai after the 2006 bombings
Destination flights for the planned attacks on August 10, 2006


  • April 24, 2006: Attack against tourists in Dahab, Egypt . 23 dead and around 80 injured.
  • July 7, 2006: A group of al-Qaeda arrested in New York for attempting to blow up and flood the traffic tunnels under the Hudson River . However, this plan already overturned within the terrorist cell, since the tunnel is in the hard rock and the attack is considered impossible, so that the choice of other targets was considered more likely.
  • July 11, 2006: According to official figures, 209 passengers on the Mumbai local trains were killed and 714 injured in a synchronized wave of terror in Mumbai , India .
  • July 31, 2006: Attempted July 31, 2006 bombings ; a terrorist attack on two trains in Cologne fails due to a technical defect in the two suitcase bombs.
  • August 10, 2006: thwarted attacks on transatlantic scheduled flights ; British police foiled a terrorist attack on scheduled transatlantic flights. The plan of the 25 Islamists was to blow up seven fully occupied large liner planes with liquid explosives hidden in their hand luggage over the Atlantic, thus killing around 3200 passengers and thus surpassing the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 .


  • April 18, 2007: Around 200 people are killed in a devastating series of attacks in Baghdad , 140 of them in the al-Sadiya market. 251 are injured.
  • February 18, 2007: 68 people are killed and 50 injured in an attack on the Indo-Pakistani Samijhauta Express . Laschkar e-Taiba and Jaish-e Mohammed are suspected .
  • May 29, 2007: 82 people are killed and 138 injured in a terrorist attack in Baghdad.
  • July 2, 2007: 10 people are killed in an attack on Spanish tourists in Yemen.
  • 29.-30. June 2007: Terrorist attacks in the UK in the summer of 2007 . Thwarted car bomb attacks in London and failed attack on Glasgow Airport.
  • July 26, 2007: 92 people are killed and 127 injured in several bomb and rocket attacks in Baghdad.
The Sinjar attack was the most casualty in Iraqi history
  • August 14, 2007: Sinjar attack . In an attack on the jesidisch devout minority in northern Iraq were in the two villages Qahtaniyah and Jazeera 796 people were killed and injured 1,562th After several previous massacres of Yazidis, the region suffered from shortages of food and medical care. The regional administration and the Americans then promised to send food trucks. The terrorists used this for an attack in which a suicide bomber drove a truck disguised as a food truck, but loaded with several tons of explosives, into the village and blew it up in the amount of expected aid packages. When rescue workers arrived, other attacks were carried out on this and in nearby Jazeera. Al-Qaeda leader Abu Mohammad al-Afri , who was killed a few months later in an American air strike, is considered to be the mastermind behind the attacks .
  • August 25, 2007: Two bomb attacks in Hyderabad , India kill 42 people and injure 54.
  • September 4, 2007: A terrorist attack with 700 kilos of explosives is thwarted in Germany. The attack targets were Frankfurt am Main airport , the Ramstein air force base and several discos and bars. The three main suspects were arrested in Oberschledorn in Medebach . Hundreds of people were believed to have lost their lives in the attack.
  • November 6, 2007: An attack on a delegation of Afghan parliamentarians while visiting a sugar factory in Baghlan killed over 100 people, including dozens of Afghan politicians and 59 school children.
  • December 11, 2007: Attack on UN building in Algiers, killing 60, perpetrated by al-Qaida in the Maghreb
  • December 27, 2007: Assassination attempt on the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto . Immediately after the attack, the Pakistani government under Pervez Musharraf claimed that al-Qaeda was responsible . Al-Qaeda officials deny this. Opposition politicians, including representatives of the Pakistani People's Party, which Bhutto presided over, suspect the military or the secret service was behind the murder.
One of the crime scenes in Mumbai after the attacks on May 26-29. November 2008


  • February 17, 2008: In the officially worst terrorist attacks in Afghanistan since 2001, over 100 people are killed.
  • May 13, 2008: 80 people are killed and 216 injured in attacks in Jaipur . The attacks were carried out by Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami or Indian Mujahideen.
  • July 26, 2008: More than 20 bomb explosions in Ahmedabad , India kill 56 people and injure 200. The attacks were carried out by Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami.
  • September 17, 2008: Simultaneous attacks on the US embassy in Yemen; 19 people died and 16 were injured.
  • September 20, 2008: Bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad ; 54 people die; 266 are injured.
  • November 26-29, 2008: Attacks on November 26, 2008 in Mumbai ; 174 people are killed and 239 injured in a series of bomb attacks, massacres, hostage-taking and skirmishes in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai . A total of 17 bombs detonated. The perpetrators opened fire on crowds several times and killed hostages simply because of their religious affiliation. The dead included 18 Indian police officers and 28 foreign nationals. Only three days after the start of the attacks did the police declare the last scene of the crime to be secure.


  • April 23, 2009: In Muqdadiyah , Iraq , 76 people are killed and 103 injured, mostly Iranian citizens, in two suicide attacks.
  • June 18, 2009: 35 people are killed in an attack in Beledweyne , Somalia , including the Somali security minister, the ambassador to the African Union and numerous diplomats. Al-Shabaab took responsibility for the attack .
  • August 19, 2009: In the course of several terrorist attacks on the anniversary of the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad in 2003, 101 people died and 563 were injured in the Iraqi capital.
  • October 25, 2009: 155 people died and 500 were injured in attacks in Baghdad.
  • October 28, 2009: 11 people are killed in an attack on a UN building in Kabul.
  • November 5, 2009: 13 people were shot dead and 32 injured in Fort Hood , USA. Nidal Malik Hasan had direct contact with al-Qaeda.
  • December 3, 2009: An attack on a hotel in Mogadishu killed 17 people, including three ministers from the Somali UN interim government. This suspects al-Shabaab.
  • December 25, 2009: Detroit attack ; in Detroit , USA, a 23-year-old Nigerian attempts to blow up a passenger plane over a residential area on Christmas morning. He is overwhelmed by passengers and the crew.
  • December 30, 2009: Suicide attack on Camp Chapman ; a double agent, the Jordanian doctor Homam Khaleel Mohammad Abu Malla, blows himself up on the premises of the military base near Chost , the attack claims a total of seven lives, including the head of the base, Jennifer Lynne Matthews .


  • April 23 to 24, 2010: At least 85 people died in several terrorist attacks in Baghdad; 145 are injured.
  • May 1, 2010: Attempted attack in Times Square ; attempted car bomb attack in New York with ties to the Pakistani Taliban.
  • May 10, 2010: A nationwide wave of terrorism in Iraq kills over 100 people and injures at least 350.
  • May 28, 2010: At least 98 people are killed and 120 injured in two attacks on mosques run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan in Lahore .
  • July 11, 2010: 74 people died in two bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital Kampala during the final of the soccer World Cup . Shortly afterwards, al-Shabaab committed itself to the attacks.
  • November 24, 2010: 23 people are killed in the Shiite region of North Yemen.


In total, at least around 5,000 western civilians were killed by the al-Qaeda movement . According to the Federal Criminal Police Office , 70,000 fighters were trained in al-Qaeda camps.

The Arab victims in Iraq and its neighboring countries who are killed in al-Qaida's alleged fight against the United States, however, are mostly not part of the statistics. It is now assumed that the number of victims in the Arab countries is many times higher than in Europe or America.

Al-Qaeda after the Arab Spring

After the upheavals and unrest in various Arab countries from the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011 , the structure of al-Qaeda changed fundamentally. Al-Qaeda regional branches, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, took advantage of the turmoil of the revolution and took care of themselves from unguarded weapons depots, as they also used the sometimes quite unguarded borders, for example between Algeria and Tunisia or between Tunisia and Libya, and the newly gained freedom of movement .

In addition, various Islamist groups and networks emerged that had no, or in some cases no open, organizational reference to al-Qaida and which often gave themselves the name Ansar al-Sharia (supporters of Sharia). The range of groupings was now much broader than before, which in turn led to many discussions about tactics and directions of the movement. On the one hand, it was discussed whether and if so, in what form, one should participate in parliamentary processes. On the other hand, it became apparent, for example in statements by Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of the al-Qaida leader Aiman ​​al-Zawahiri, that the Islamist movement now saw the time to concern itself with the establishment of Islamic states and societies instead of themselves To concentrate too much on the "Far Enemy" (Western states). Some groups, such as Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, initially wanted to gain the support of the population; other militias, more oriented towards al-Qaeda, continued to see armed struggle as a priority and always the right means of achieving their goals. The Islamist movement then received new impulses primarily from the war in Syria, which became more and more attractive for non-Syrian Islamists.

While the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) managed to take large areas in Syria and Iraq, al-Qaeda lost its importance. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message accused ISIS leader Baghdadi of defamation because he had spread lies about al-Qaeda and claimed that it would not denounce the tyranny. In addition, it is wrong that Zawahiri rejected attacks on Shiites. Rather, instead of killing civilians with attacks on markets or mosques, he instructed his fighters in Iraq to fight against the primarily Shiite security forces in Iraq and against Shiite militias. However, Zawahiri was also open to a debate about strategies in jihad and said he had to listen to advice.

Regional characteristics

See also


  • Charles Allen: God's Terrorists, The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad. Little, Brown, London 2006.
  • Milton Bearden: Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires. In: Foreign Affairs. Vol. 80, No. 6, November / December 2001, pp. 17-30.
  • Ruth Bigalke, Marwan Abou-Taam: The Ideology of Osama bin Laden. From Islamism to Jihadism , in: MHW Möllers / RC van Ooyen (ed.), Political Extremism 1: Forms and Current Developments, Frankfurt am Main, Verlag für Polizeiwissenschaften, 2007, pp. 381–387.
  • Jean-Charles Brisard, Damien Martinez: The new face of Al-Qaida. Zarqawi and the escalation of violence. 1st edition. Propylaea, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-549-07266-X .
  • Jason Burke: Al-Qaeda. Roots, history, organization. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-538-07204-3 .
  • Khalid Duran: Duty everywhere. The small and the great jihad. In: FAZ No. 235 of October 10, 2001, p. 11.
  • John Gray: The Birth of Al-Qaeda from the Spirit of Modernity. Antje Kunstmann, Munich 2004.
  • Rohan Gunaratna: Inside Al Qaeda, global network of terror. Berkley, New York 2003.
  • Christina Hellmich: al-Qaida: From global network to franchise terrorism. Primus Verlag, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-86312-347-5 .
  • Raymond Ibrahim : The Al Qaeda Reader: The Essential Texts of Osama Bin Laden's Terrorist Organization. Broadway Books, New York 2007, ISBN 076792262X .
  • Gilles Kepel , Jean-Pierre Milelli: Al-Qaida. Texts of Terror. Piper, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-492-04912-2 (French: Al-Qaida dans le texte. Paris 2005).
  • André M. Malick: Al-Qa'ida's punctuation of sequences of events. A conflict analysis from the point of view of communication theory according to Watzlawick. Verlag für Polizeiwissenschaft, Frankfurt 2011, ISBN 978-3-86676-163-6 .
  • Thomas J. Moser: Politics on the path of God. On the genesis and transformation of militant Sunni Islamism. IUP, Innsbruck 2012, ISBN 978-3902811677 .
  • Tânia Puschnerat : Theory and Strategy of the Islamist Discourse. In: Uwe Backes, Eckhard Jesse (Hrsg.): Yearbook Extremism & Democracy. 15th year Nomos, Baden-Baden 2003, pp. 69-91.
  • Bruce Riedel: Al Qaeda Strikes Back. In: Foreign Affairs. Vol. 86, no. 3, March / April 2007, pp. 24-40.
  • Marc Sageman: Understanding Terror Networks. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2004.
  • Behnam Said : History of Al Qaeda. Bin Laden, September 11th and the thousand fronts of terror today. CH Beck, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-406-725852 .
  • Oliver Schröm: al-Qaida, actors, structures, attacks. Structure of the Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-7466-8136-7 .
  • Shaul Shay: The Red Sea terror triangle, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Islamic terror. Transaction, New Brunswick 2005.
  • Guido Steinberg : The network of Islamist terrorism. The enemy near and far. CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-53515-1 .
  • Elhakam Sukhni: The 'Martyrs' Operation ' in Jihad: Origin and Inner-Islamic Discourse. Academic Publishing Association, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-86924-107-4 .
  • Lawrence Wright: The Man Behind Bin Laden. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri from Egypt - an Islamist career. In: Lettre International. No. 59, IV / 02, pp. 28-44.

Web links

Wiktionary: Al-Qaida  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Al-Qaeda  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

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