Al-Qaeda Terrorist Organization | Professional Essay Writers


The paper reviews Al-Qaeda a terrorist organization that has conducted various terrorist attacks and supported the continuity of terrorism in the world. Al-Qaeda is a wide-ranging based militant Islamist that was organized by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. Al-Qaeda was developed as a logistical network that focused on supporting the Muslims in the Afghan War to fight against the Soviet Union. Al-Qaeda’s ideologies were to remove all foreign influences in the Muslim nations. In the first section, the paper gives background and history of the terrorist organization as well as how it has evolved over the years. The second section has discussed the leadership structure of the group. Al-Qaeda has a hierarchical leadership structure and a chain of command where the group members have to adhere to the conventional vertical organization chart. The third section consists of the doctrines which govern the behaviors of the members as well as their beliefs that are linked to the Muslim religion. The fourth section examines funding and how the group is state-sponsored by some countries. Al-Qaeda funding has made use of the Muslim business people and charitable organizations all over the world.  The fifth section includes vulnerabilities of the terrorist group. Six particular vulnerabilities apply to Al-Qaeda terrorist organization since it has diverse ideological bents and is a large group that is religious-minded terrorist organizations. The sixth section includes the counterterrorism strategy to prevent the continuity of the group. The most effective way to counter terrorism is to prevent funding and sponsorship of the group through imposing sanctions. As governments develop policies and laws to prevent the financing of terrorism, banks also should implement policies, rules, and risk management procedures that go beyond the needs of their jurisdiction counterterrorism laws.



One of the most famous and well-known terrorist organizations is Al-Qaeda which is responsible for many terrorist attacks and deaths of thousands worldwide. Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization was established in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden. The terrorist group was then put in the United States State Department of Foreign terrorist organizations in 1999. Al-Qaeda has been based on an extreme version of Islam. One of the major reasons why the group is so appealing among Muslims is that it incites and inspires the Islamist movements as well as the Muslim Masses worldwide to attack those individuals that are perceived as enemies of the Muslim religion. Part of the Al-Qaeda ideology is that it seeks to exploit widespread resentment, suffering, and anger among Muslims in the world and turning it against the United States and other state allies.  This paper will focus on Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations to gain an understanding of the organization structure, leadership, funding, and vulnerabilities. The paper will also focus on counterterrorism strategy to eliminate the terrorist organization. Al-Qaeda has conducted many terrorist attacks which have resulted in violence, fear, suffering, and indirect harmful effects.


Al-Qaeda is a wide-ranging based militant Islamist that was organized by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. Al-Qaeda was developed as a logistical network that focused on supporting the Muslims in the Afghan War to fight against the Soviet Union. Al-Qaeda grew through merging with other militant Islamist organizations such as the Islamic Jihad and the Islamic group where it declared holy war with the United States (Gomes and Mikhael, 2018). The group also developed camps for Muslim militants all over the world where it trained many militants in paramilitary skills and enabled them to engage in various terrorist attacks.

The United States government has responded to various attacks by Al-Qaeda. For instance, after attacking the US warship Cole in Yemen, the U.S government responded by attacking the Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan where many militants were killed and captured while most of their leaders were driven into hiding. However, after the attacks by the U.S government, thought that they had weakened Al-Qaeda but this prompted a structural growth and evolution through franchising (Ibrahimi, 2018). More attacks were coordinated not only from the Al-Qaeda centralized leadership but were also localized which was challenging to confront.

Over the years, the group has utilized the internet as an effective tool for expansion for recruitment and communication of messages, propagandas, and broadcasts (Gaub, 2017). On 2nd May 2011, Bin Laden was killed by the United States military forces after the United States intelligence located him in a secure compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. After the death of Bin Laden, the U.S hailed the operation against Al-Qaeda as a major success.

However, the terrorist organization has still been responsible for various attacks. For instance, it claimed to be responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the downed plane in Shanksville, and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  The World Trade Center attack was the deadliest among the three since it resulted in the death of more than three thousand people dying initially after the attack.

Since the ideology of Al-Qaeda is widespread, they are not easily eliminated since they are not located in one area (KAYA, 2020). They cannot also be eliminated through conventional means since they are not a conventional enemy. The terrorist group believes that Israel and the United States are the leading conspiracies against Islam. The group terrorist attack strategy is very simple; they focus on attacking anyone who will enable them further goals as well as stand in their way. They are not afraid to attack the armed forces or any intelligent groups. For instance, they are likely to target Jews, Christians, and United States since they believe that they are conspiring against the Islamic religion.

Al-Qaeda’s choice of tactics is along the lines of guerrilla warfare or asymmetric warfare (Gohari Moqaddam, 2017). Considerably, since Al-Qaeda does not match their rivals such as the United States military, they opt to use the less conventional ways as compared to their enemies. Therefore, their fighting tactics are similar to those of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war. For instance, they rely on the hit and run attacks where the militants quickly open fire and run before the enemy’s enforcement shows up. The militants include a small group of lightly armed individuals that easily blend with the civilian population.

Ideally, they try to blend with the civilian individuals so that when the enemy’s forces such as the United States and their allies retaliate since they do not want any civilian casualties. This means that Al-Qaeda tries to use the civilians as their shields without having to hold them directly as hostages. They have also been known to rely on children for their gains and success. This is because it has been easy to influence children to things in a situation where they will gain anything from the militants. They have relied on Improvised Explosive Devices and road-side bombs that disable a convoy of vehicles while others rely on vehicles and drive through people and go shooting and stabbing them. Al-Qaeda has also attempted to strike high-level officials, first responders, and law enforcers to create more distraction.


Leadership is very essential in every organization. Ideally, for a group to be effective, leaders have vital parts that disregard ineffectiveness in their operations and structure of the terrorist group. It has been declared that frontrunners hold a vital part when it comes to the goals, vision, and mission of the terrorists. The terrorist group leaders play an essential role in the overseeing and planning of operations as well as maintaining the integrity of the group.

Al-Qaeda has a hierarchical leadership structure and a chain of command where the group members have to adhere to the conventional vertical organization chart (Gohari Moqaddam, 2017). The hierarchical leadership applies the pyramid-shaped or top-down structure with a narrow center of power that goes down widening the base at the subordinate levels. It is believed that the leadership structure has enabled the terrorist organization to achieve its mission.

Implementation of hierarchical leadership enables an organization to offer a clear chain of command. Al-Qaeda’s hierarchical structure consists of three major sectors where there is the leader, the consultative council, and a group of militant leaders and veteran clerics. In the early 1990s, the group indicated various characteristics of traditional hierarchical structure with regular procedures and installations. But after losing its major base in Afghanistan, it decided to be decentralized with a broader network.

Despite being a terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda tends to operate like any other organization since they have a well-defined leadership structure and have procedures to make shared decisions. The members have functionally differential duties and responsibilities while the leaders have positions of formal authority. For a terrorist group such as Al-Qaeda, there is the presence of tradeoff between resilience and efficiency. For instance, the Al-Qaeda organization carries out attacks on a large scale which makes the hierarchical structure more important in organizing their communication and operations.



Ever since the Al-Qaeda was established, the senior leadership communicates its rationalization, core values, and principles to the world. Considerably, these statements have conveyed to the doctrine and beliefs through which the leadership claims to be fighting. Al-Qaeda envisions the removal of all foreign religions in the different Muslim countries. Al-Qaeda members have believed in Al-Qaeda’s vision which answers the organization’s endeavors to establish a Pan-Islamic state (Kamolnick, 2017). This aim has offered a very strong purpose and vision since they believe that the western is very hostile to the Islamic. Al-Qaeda believes that they will replace the heretical and corrupt Muslim governments in different Islamic countries through the Pan-Islamic state. The members of Al-Qaeda are provided with rulings on Islamic law which indicate that attacks are both necessary and proper.


The roots of Al-Qaeda’s funding have been traced back to financial networks developed to support the activities of Jihad (Gartenstein-Ross, and Barr, 2018). Al-Qaeda funding has made use of the Muslim business people and charitable organizations all over the world. As the group transformed and developed itself into an international terrorist movement, it infiltrated various international Muslim charities that could be utilized to mask and collect the funds it required. These funds have been used by these charity organizations to support the activities of Al-Qaeda. These funds have been essential since it has offered ways through which the Al-Qaeda can conduct their activities extensively such as the recruitment efforts.




Terrorists have a lot of vulnerabilities. Six particular vulnerabilities apply to Al-Qaeda terrorist organization since it has diverse ideological bents and is a large group that is religious-minded terrorist organizations. One of the vulnerabilities in the operational demands exposes terrorists to scrutiny. Over the years, countries such as the United States who are main targets for Al-Qaeda have heightened their state security which has made the U.S a high-risk environments for the terrorists. Inter-governmental and state bodies have increasingly adopted robust counter-terrorism policies and laws. At the same time, other countries such as Syria and Mali have continued to emphasize the significance of principled humanitarian action which has included the counter terrorism laws.

Terrorist leaders being killed or captured

Terrorist leaders are essential since they act as the center of gravity in terms of operations and structuring the group. However, the counter-terrorism groups have targeted the leaders since capturing and killing the leaders would lower the capability of the terrorist groups. For instance, The U.S armed forces were aiming at Osama Bin Laden and after his death, the government stated this was a success since the leader was escaping the government for years.

Power struggles between leaders

Power struggles are natural among leaders within terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda. Ideally, terrorist groups do not only worry about the external issues but also internal issues that result from leadership struggles and rivals of other sub-state groups. Terrorist groups have differed over the operational strategy. For instance, when Al-Qaeda’s Al Zawahiri censured the Jordanian Zarqawi while intentionally attempting to insight religious civil war in Iraq

Terrorists are also human and militants can be forced to a point of being exhausted

Over time the terrorist groups tend to decline since there is no natural lifespan for insurgent or terror organizations. The effectiveness of counter-terrorism response determines how long terrorist groups last. For instance, after the attack by U.S armed forces in 2011 where the leader Osama Bin Laden was killed, the group was weakened since the leader had all the strategies and operations of the group (Byman, 2019). Losing crucial people such as leaders of the group may result in exhaustion of the group. Counter-terrorism may take years but with sufficient persistence and willpower, states outlast the terrorists who are killed, wounded worn down, and eventually become sick of the group.

Military power is required to counter check state terrorism

Terrorism has still been a weapon of states. However, the victimized states have been demanded to defend citizens from terrorist attacks. Diplomatic and economic sanctions have been implemented to ensure that states back off sponsorship of state and international terrorism. For instance, charitable organizations that sponsored Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been influenced by strong counter-terrorism measures.

Proposed Solution (Counter-terrorism strategy)

The National counterterrorism strategy has recognized the wide range of terrorist threats within countries such as the United States and has emphasized the utilization of different national power to prevent terrorist ideologies and combat terrorism. Humanitarian and counterterrorism laws have shared various goals such as preventing attacks against civilians as well as the diversion of aids to militants (Cronin, 2012). For instance, there are different counter-terrorism measures that United Nations should use to punish groups and individuals that engage in terrorism.

Countries need to impact sanctions more strictly against state identified sponsors. Ideally, terrorists cannot operate effectively without financial support and safe-havens. Countries should effectively impose sanctions on nations that offer direct aid to terrorists (Al-Bayati, 2017). Countries such as the United States should increase their intelligence operations against terrorist organizations. The United States should freeze funds as well as other financial resources of Al-Qaeda from the state sponsors to prevent terrorist acts.

As governments develop policies and laws to prevent the financing of terrorism, banks also should implement policies, rules, and risk management procedures that go beyond the needs of their jurisdiction counterterrorism laws. Banks should establish anti-money laundering, anti-fraud and other risk protocols that sufficiently prevent certain transactions. Additionally, countries should have developed broadly accepted ways through which terrorism can be reduced and managed. For instance, creating a new attitude towards terrorism is essential in getting the right mix of intelligence policies and law enforcement.



The attacks by Al-Qaeda can be traced back to the early 1990s. The attacks have been a great threat to national security. Al-Qaeda poses a serious threat to the world especially the American homeland. Their asymmetric warfare tactics are dangerous to civilians and the military. Their willingness to kill and injure innocent children and women for their own goals has made them unpredictable and dangerous. The Al-Qaeda militants have been trained in the Al-Qaeda camps. Countries have weakened terrorism through counter-terrorism measures as well as vulnerabilities that can weaken Al-Qaeda’s ability.




Al-Bayati, T. H. (2017). A New counterterrorism strategy: Why the world failed to stop Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL, and how to defeat terrorists. ABC-CLIO.

Byman, D. (2019). Does Al Qaeda Have a Future?The Washington Quarterly42(3), 65-75.

Cronin, A. K. (2012). Ending terrorism: Lessons for defeating al-Qaeda. Routledge.

Gartenstein-Ross, D., & Barr, N. (2018). How Al-Qaeda Works: The Jihadist Group’s Evolving Organizational DesignCurrent Trends in Islamist Ideology23, 66-122.

Gaub, F. (2017). Trends in terrorism. European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). doi: Retrieved from https://www. iss. europa. eu/sites/default/files/EUISSFiles/Alert_4_Terrorism_in_Europe_0. pdf10, 66788.

Gohari Moqaddam, A. (2017). The Structure and Tactics of al-Qaeda: Continuity and Change. Islamic Political Thought4(1), 101-126.

Gomes, A. D. T., & Mikhael, M. M. (2018). Terror or Terrorism? Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Comparative PerspectiveBrazilian Political Science Review12(1).

Ibrahimi, S. Y. (2018). Theory of the rise of al-Qaeda. Behavioral sciences of terrorism and political aggression10(2), 138-157.

Kamolnick, P. (2017). The Al-Qaeda Organization and the Islamic State Organization: History, Doctrine, Modus, Operandi, and US Policy to Degrade and Defeat Terrorism Conducted in the Name of Sunni Islam. Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College.


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