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Al-Qa'ida (al Qaeda) is a Sunni Islamist group that espouses a radical “jihadist Salafist” ideology and relies predominantly on terrorist tactics in its pursuit of a global Islamic supremacist agenda. The group is best known for its association with the highly destructive “suicide” terrorist attacks using hijacked passenger jetliners in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September, 11, 2001. Its history, organization, ideology, and operational objectives will be summarized below.

Historical Overview

Al-Qa'ida's origins can be traced to certain logistical organizations established in Peshawar, Pakistan, to recruit, transport, subsidize, house, and record the names of Arab and other Muslim volunteers who had flocked to Afghanistan during the 1980s to wage armed jihad against the “infidel” Soviet invaders—the so-called Afghan Arabs. The most important of these was ...

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