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The first, numbering in the tens of thousands, was "organized, trained, and equipped as insurgent combat forces" in the Soviet-Afghan war.
It was made up primarily of foreign mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Activities ascribed to it may involve members of the movement who have made a pledge of loyalty to bin Laden, or the much more numerous "al-Qaeda-linked" individuals who have undergone training in one of its camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Sudan.
As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of non-combatants is religiously sanctioned, but they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of non-combatants and internecine fighting.
This was the case, for instance, with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Muslim World League (MWL). Treasury designated Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, a Qatari citizen close to the al-Thani family and a human rights activist who founded the Swiss-based NGO Alkarama, as a global terrorist for his activities in support to al-Qaeda. Nuaimi was also accused of overseeing a million monthly transfer to al-Qaeda in Iraq for a period of time as part of his role as mediator between Iraq-based al-Qaeda senior officers and Qatari citizens. A prominent figure among AQAP ranks, he was also reported to have facilitated the flow of funding to AQAP affiliates based in Yemen.
The former had solid ties with al-Qaeda associates worldwide, including al-Qaeda’s deputy Ayman al Zawahiri’s brother working for IIRO in Albania who had actively recruited on behalf of al-Qaeda and involved several Egyptian Islamic Jihad members in IIRO activities. Moreover, Nuaimi is known to be associated with Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, a Yemeni politician and founding member of Alkarama listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the U. Nuaimi was accused of investing funds in the charity directed by Humayqani to ultimately fund AQAP.
Many went on to fight in Bosnia and Somalia for global jihad.
Another group, approximately 10,000 strong, live in Western states and have received rudimentary combat training.
Curtis contends the name "al-Qaeda" was first brought to the attention of the public in the 2001 trial of bin Laden and the four men accused of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa: The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term "al-Qaeda" to refer to the name of a group until after September 11 attacks, when he realized that this was the term the Americans had given it.It made them identifiable as a group and therefore made it easier to prosecute any person associated with al-Qaeda for any acts or statements made by bin Laden.The number of individuals in the group who have undergone proper military training, and are capable of commanding insurgent forces, is largely unknown.Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, said that al-Qaeda is now just a "loose label for a movement that seems to target the west. We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with." ... and all the true believers [mu'mineen] are brothers. So this place was called 'The Base' ['Al-Qa'idah'], as in a training base, so this name grew and became. We are the children of a nation, and we are an inseparable part of it, and from those public *** which spread from the far east, from the Philippines, to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to India, to Pakistan, reaching Mauritania... Osama bin Laden was the most historically notable emir, or commander, and Senior Operations Chief of al-Qaeda prior to his assassination on May 1, 2011, by U. Bin Laden was advised by a Shura Council, which consists of senior al-Qaeda members, estimated by Western officials to consist of 20–30 people.
So the situation isn't like the West portrays it, that there is an 'organization' with a specific name (such as 'al-Qa'idah') and so on. One of them is thought to have been Sayed Tayib al-Madani.Among the first pieces of evidence of Saudi Arabia’s conspicuous support for al-Qaeda was the so-called "Golden Chain", a list of early al-Qaeda funders seized during a 2002 raid at the premises of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) in Sarajevo by Bosnian police.Besides Osama bin Laden, among the most notable Saudi recipients were Adel Batterjee (founder of BIF and designated as a terror financier by the U. Department of the Treasury in 2004) and Wael Hamza Julaidan (U.Participant in the Global War on Terrorism, War in Afghanistan, War in North-West Pakistan, Somali Civil War, Insurgency in the Maghreb, Iraq War, Iraqi insurgency, al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen, Syrian Civil War, Arab Spring, and other conflicts, translation: "The Base", "The Foundation" or "The Fundament" and alternatively spelled al-Qaida, al-Qæda and sometimes al-Qa'ida) is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization founded in 1988 Al-Qaeda operates as a network made up of Islamic extremist, Salafist jihadists.