The Evolution of Al-Qaeda Leading Up to ISIS: The New Face of Terror

Topics: Al-Qaeda, September 11 attacks, Terrorism Pages: 22 (5524 words) Published: April 12, 2015
The Evolution of Al-Qaeda leading up to ISIS: The New Face of Terror Abstract
In this paper, I will focus on the evolution and current status of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization leading up to one of its more recent franchises which is known most frequently by any of three names– the Islamic States in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic States (IS) – and is more brutal than the previous versions of al-Qaeda that the world has known. After three distinguishable generations of the al-Qaeda network – generation 1.0 which includes the years before the shocking attack on New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11, 20011; generation 2.0 which ranges from the September 11th attacks to the death of al-Qaeda’s charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden in 2011; and finally, al-Qaeda generation 3.0, in which different forms of al-Qaeda-based terrorist syndicates2, or lone wolves3, are active around the globe. In addition to its organizational transition, their modus operandi and ideology have also changed in various ways. One of the successful reforms was the formation of the ISIS group, the more heinous version of the “core” al-Qaeda whose leaders have turned against ISIS. Although the original al-Qaeda network has lost notoriety, it is still known that its offshoot cell-groups and lone wolves throughout the world continue to commit frequent acts of violence to the non-Muslim countries, especially the West and Israel, unless they are stopped by an outside force. Hence, it is of great importance to examine what lies ahead for the two individual groups in light of the al-Qaeda’s versions to date.

The September 11, 2001 attacks were a turning point in the perception of terrorist groups and their merciless attacks. Many counter-terrorism departments4 and policies were created during the “Global War on Terrorism” (Horwitz, S 2014; Howard, R., & Sawyer, R. 2006:435). As a matter of fact, the world had known smaller-scale and frequent terrorist activity in recent history, but this understanding did not come to the forefront until after 9/11 when al-Qaeda made it apparent that the western superpower no longer needed to be considered invincible, but an entity that is vulnerable from across the oceans (Post 2009; Howard, R 2006). Numerous extremists all around the world have since created their own organizations in the name of groundbreaking “al-Qaeda.” Amid these groups, an unprecedented one emerged with brutal tactics, plenty of resources, and its own territories, and became the world’s richest terrorist group in today’s world – that is ISIS (Sekulow, J 2014). In spite of the enduring nature of the counter terrorism policies put into action since the events of 9/11, contemporary terrorism is continuing to flourish. It seems impossible that one nation, the United States itself, spent more than 10 billion dollars to advance national and domestic security, while it appears that terrorism continues unabated. Consider the recent terrorist cases of the Boston Marathon bombing5 in the United States, Charlie Hebdo shooting6 in France, the tourists killed at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia7, and the suicide bombing at the Sanaa mosque in Yemen8 as evidence of terrorism’s seemingly unhindered march across the globe. Most of these attacks and others like them are the work of terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda or ISIS. Therefore, it seems more crucial than ever to increase counter-terrorist activities and continue research in the eradication of ferocious terrorists such as al-Qaeda-based freelancers and groups such as ISIS in this world. More importantly, learning the history, ideology, and strategies of al-Qaeda and its affiliates can be a springboard to more accurate predictions of future terrorist movements. What is al Qaeda?

The origin of al Qaeda – meaning “base”9 – began with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan10 in 1989. Opposed to the communist ideology to absorb the Afghanistan...

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