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This paper examines the complex, often misunderstood, relationship between al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the various militant groups found in FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) in Pakistan, including the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan). Much of what is commonly assumed about the Taliban, the TTP and al-Qaeda is based on misinformation, misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of historical events. The Taliban and alQaeda can in many ways be seen as sharing common values, although their ultimate goals remain very different. The Taliban were not part of the mujahedeen fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and emerged only in 1994. Al-Qaeda, for all the conspiracy, did not receive money from the CIA during the 1980s, and was only officially formed as an organisation in 1988. The creation of the TTP in 2007 is another matter, and was created as an umbrella organisation for various Pakistani militant groups, and maintains close ties with al-Qaeda. However, the Pakistani Taliban is not the same Taliban as the one formed in 1994, and although it swears its loyalty to Mullah Omar, its goals differ from that of the Afghani Taliban. We can speak of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in two broad strokes – pre 9/11 and post 9/11. The attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon (as well as the failed attack on Washington DC with the hijacked flight 93), was the culmination of al-Qaeda as a tightly knit, hierarchical organisation. The subsequent “War on Terror” and the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 destroyed much of its organisational capacity; it also left the Taliban severely weakened. However, they both regrouped in the FATA region over a period of years, and al-Qaeda spread its ideology throughout northern Pakistan, coalescing with militant groups and local warlords. Before 9/11, al-Qaeda and the Taliban were very much two different organisations; today, it is not so simple, and in 2010, General David Petreus claimed that there is “a symbiotic relationship between all of these different organizations: al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban ... They support each other, they coordinate with each other, sometimes they compete with each other, [and] sometimes they even fight each other.” (cfr, 2010, http://www.cfr.org).
Al Qaeda (AQ) has evolved into a significantly different terrorist organization than the one that perpetrated the September 11, 2001, attacks. At the time, Al Qaeda was composed mostly of a core cadre of veterans of the Afghan insurgency against the Soviet Union, with a centralized leadership structure made up mostly of Egyptians. Most of the organization’s plots either emanated from the top or were approved by the leadership. Some analysts describe pre-9/11 Al Qaeda as akin to a corporation, with Osama Bin Laden acting as an agile Chief Executive Officer issuing orders and soliciting ideas from subordinates. Some would argue that the Al Qaeda of that period no longer exists. Out of necessity, due to pressures from the security community, in the ensuing years it has transformed into a diffuse global network and philosophical movement composed of dispersed nodes with varying degrees of independence. The core leadership, headed by Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, is thought to live in the mountainous tribal belt of northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, where it continues to train operatives, recruit, and disseminate propaganda. But Al Qaeda franchises or affiliated groups active in countries such as Yemen and Somalia now represent critical power centers in the larger movement. Some affiliates receive money, training, and weapons; others look to the core leadership in Pakistan for strategic guidance, theological justification, and a larger narrative of global struggle.
In 2007, the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emerged after the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) aligned itself with Al-Qaeda. This development captured the world’s attention and led several scholars and policymakers to ask the question: Why did this merger take place and what does it say about the motivations of GSPC? This research investigates three hypotheses: (1) This merger is merely an ideological one without operational implications; (2) this merger is ideological, operational, and logistical; or (3) this merger is merely a rebranding of a failing organization that needed to survive and, therefore, is not a genuine threat to the United States and its European allies. Exploring the evolution of Algerian Islamism, from the rise of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) to the GSPC and AQIM, this study concludes that hypothesis 3 is the best explanation of the merger between GSPC and Al-Qaeda. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instruction, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington, VA 22202-4302, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (0704-0188) Washington DC 20503.
Bruce Hoffman P-8078 RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. Papers are issued by RAND as a service to its professional staff. They are personal products of the authors rather than the results of sponsored RAND research. They have not been formally reviewed or edited. The views and conclusions expressed in Papers are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by other members of the RAND staff or by its research sponsors. RAND® is a registered trademark. For more information or to order RAND documents, see RAND’s URL (http://www.rand.org) or contact Distribution Services, RAND, 1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138, phone (310) 451-7002; Fax: (310) 4516915; Email: email@example.com Published 2003 by RAND 1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138 1200 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202-5050 201 North Craig Street, Suite 202, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1516
Why do the Islamic fundamentalists in general—and followers of al Qaeda in particular—resort to terrorist tactics against Americans and other Westerners around the globe? This question has haunted Americans since 9/11 and prompted a host of antiterrorist policies throughout the world. Much has been written and spoken on the subject, and more will be written and spoken in the years ahead. Political geography offers a frame of reference to learn about al Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups and their anti-West, anti–U.S. posture. To explore the point of view propounded by Osama bin Laden and others, this case study uses the ﬁve levels of analysis introduced in chapter three, examined here from a geopolitical perspective. The ﬁve levels of analysis are the: 1) international system, 2) regional, 3) state, 4) substate (tribal groups), and 5) individual. INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM LEVEL From the international system perspective, consider the following historical context of al Qaeda’s militant Islam. Militant Islamic fundamentalists and followers of Islam are heirs to one of the great civilizations of the world. While...
A l-Qa’ida seems to be on its heels. The death of Osama bin Laden and the fall of Arab dictators have left its leadership in disarray, its narrative confused, and the organization on the defensive. One silver lining for al-Qaida, however, has been its affiliate organizations. In Iraq, the Maghreb, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere, alQa’ida has used local groups to expand its reach, increase its power, and grow its numbers. This string of mergers is not over. In places as diverse as the Sinai Peninsula and Nigeria, al-Qa’ida-linked organizations are emerging. However, the jihadist world is more fractured than it may appear at first glance. Many Salafi-jihadist groups have not joined with al-Qa’ida, and even if they have, tensions and divisions occur that present the United States and its allies with opportunities for weakening the bond. at the same time, several Salafi-jihadist groups chose not to affiliate with al-Qa’ida, including Egypt’s Gamaat al-Islamiyya and Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and fighters in Chechnya, Gaza, and Pakistan maintained their distance as well. Motivations to the Affiliate for Joining There are a number of reasons why a group may choose to affiliate with al-Qa’ida, some practical, some ideological, and some personal: • • Al-Qa’ida has always been both a group with its own agenda and a facilitator of other terrorist groups. This meant that it not only carried out attacks on U.S. targets in Kenya, Tanzania, and Yemen throughout the 1990s, but it helped other jihadist groups with funding, training, and additional logistical essentials. Toward the end of the 1990s, alQa’ida incorporated Egyptian Islamic Jihad into its structure. After September 11, 2001, this process of deepening its relationship with outside groups took off, and today a number of regional groups bear the label “al-Qa’ida” in their name, along with a more local designation.