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“It would be naive to conclude that the al Qaeda threat died along with its leader”

  • Frank Gardner
  • BBC security correspondent

Osama bin Laden (right) and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri (left) in May 1998

image source, CNN via Getty Images

Caption,

Osama bin Laden (right) and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri (left) in May 1998.

The sudden and violent, but not entirely unexpected, disappearance of the al Qaeda leader last weekend raises the inevitable question: what about the organization he leaves behind?

In fact, there are more questions: what is al Qaeda and is it still relevant in 2022?

Al Qaeda in Arabic means “the base”. It is an outlawed terrorist organization dedicated to attacking Western interests around the world and toppling governments in Asia and Africa, governments it views as too close to the West and insufficiently Islamic.

It was formed in the late 1980s on the Afghan-Pakistani border from the remnants of the Arab volunteer army that went to fight the Soviets who had invaded and occupied Afghanistan.

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