Background Information About Al Qaeda or Al-Qa'ida:
Background information about al Qaeda, also known as al-Qa'ida. The links below come from many sources. As with all our information, we try to be balanced.
If you know of an article which should be listed here, please email us so we can consider it.
Because there is a close link between al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, there may be some overlap between this page and our bin Laden page. We invite you to check that page as well.
Please be aware that we are still working on the background pages to this site. However, because of demand, we wanted to put some of what we have up now.
Please check back often.
Jane's Richard Engel charts the careers of some of Bin Laden's converts and co-conspirators, offering an insight into Al-Qaeda's inner workings. The original link to the article was to Jane's, but they have long since removed it, so this link is to an archive which contains it.
Background: Al Qaeda
The US government issued an indictment in November 1998 alleging that Osama bin Laden heads an international terrorist network called "Al Qaeda," an Arabic word meaning "the base." These are the government's allegations from this and subsequent indictments concerning Al Qaeda.
The Facts About Al-Qaeda
Contains key facts about Al-Qaeda, and is updated frequently. This is the public article, and subscribers get a fuller article.
biographies and investigations of bin Laden, Al-Qaida, and terrorist attacks
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 55
The Taliban on al Qaeda, 1996-97
The author stumbled over two US diplomatic cables from the 1990s which turned out to have been very relevant to terrorism in the 21st century.
Website: Document Evidence Against Bin Laden
The original link was to a US State Department's Washington File from November, 1999. Several years ago, it was taken down. Fortunately, the webmaster at 9-11 Memories saved it in its entirety.
Patterns of Global Terrorism (1999): Middle East Overview US State Dept.
From a 1999 State Department report on terrorism in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia (with a thumbnail biography of Usama Bin Ladin).
Background information including a detailed profile on al-Qaeda and information on known members and Osama bin Laden.
Qaeda and the Global Reach of Terrorism
The October 3, 2001, testimony of Oliver Revell, former FBI Associate Deputy Director for Investigations before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations.
al-Qa'ida (The Base)
Federation of American Scientists' Intelligence Resource Program.
Science Monitor: The 'cave man' and Al Qaeda: Is bin Laden just a front
Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who repeatedly interviewed bin Laden says he's not the terror group's main force.
Qaeda Training Manual
This training manual was found in Manchester, England, by the Metro police when they searched an al Qaeda member's home. Only selected text from the manual is presented by the U.S. Department of Justice because it does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism.
Council on Foreign Relations: Backgrounder on Al-Qaeda
Provides background information about the terror group, including its origins, where it operates, its connection to other terrorist organizations, and what major attacks it has been responsible as well as how Osama bin Laden's death has affected the group.
The Truth About al Qaeda
Foreign Affairs, the house organ for the Council on Foreign Relations, published this 2011 article about what the late Osama bin Laden's files tell us about al Qaeda.
Global Security: Al-Qaida
Presents an overview of al-Qaida, their goals, beliefs, strength, and actions.
Vulnerabilities: What Are al Qaeda's Capabilities?
Contains excerpts from interviews about cyberwar with Richard Clarke ()former White House advisor on cyberspace security), James Lewis (Center for Strategic and International Studies), John Arquilla, Michael Skroch (Sandia National Laboratories), John Hamre (former deputy Secretary of defense), Ron Dick (former FBI security expert), and a hacker who agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity).
The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA
From the CIA's own literature, this is the account of a Jordanian physician, Humam Khalil al-Balawi, who promised to pass intelligence about al-Qaeda, but instead detonated his explosives vest at the CIA office, killing seven officers and two other employees as well as himself.