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Participant in the Global War on Terrorism, Afghanistan conflict, Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Somali Civil War, Insurgency in the Maghreb, Iraq War, Iraqi insurgency, al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen, Syrian Civil War, Arab Spring, and other conflicts
Flag used by various al-Qaeda factions
Flag used by various al-Qaeda factions
Active 1988–present
Ideology Wahhabism
Salafist jihadism

Al-Qaeda Central (1988–present)
Al-Qaeda in Iraq (2004–2013, became Mujahideen Shura Council in January 2006)
Mujahideen Shura Council (January 2006–October 2006, became Islamic State of Iraq in October 2006)
Islamic State of Iraq (2006–2013)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (2013–2014)
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (2007–present)
Al-Qaeda in Palestine (2008–present)
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (2009–present)
Al-Qaeda in Somalia (2010–present)
Al-Qaeda in the Levant (2012–2017, became Tahrir al-Sham in January 2017)
Tahrir al-Sham (alleged, 2017–present)
Al-Mourabitoun (2013–2015, joined AQIM in December 2015)
Jund al-Aqsa (2014–2017)
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (2014–present)
Khorasan Group
Al-Qaeda in Sinai Peninsula
Imam Shamil Battalion
Guardians of Religion Organization (2018–present)
Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions
Al Qaeda in the Lands Beyond the Sahel Al-Qaeda in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Al-Qaeda in Mali
Al-Qaeda in Spain

Al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago
Leaders Osama bin Laden  (1988–2011)
Ayman al-Zawahiri (2011–present)
Area of operations

Predominantly in the Middle East
Rebel group with current territorial control in:

  • In the Af-Pak region: <100 (2011) 300–3,000 (2012–14) 800 (2018)
  • In Libya: 5,000
  • In the Maghreb: 800–1,000+ (2015)
  • In West Africa: 100+ (2015)
  • In the Arabian Peninsula: 6,000–8,000 (2018)
  • In Mali: 800–5,400
  • In Russia: 100
  • In Somalia: 7,000–9,000
  • In Syria: Tahrir al-Sham 7,000–11,000 (2018) Hurras al-Din 2,000–3,000
  • In the Sinai Peninsula: 1,000
  • In Nigeria: 2,000–3,000
  • Total: 31,400+ – 57,600+~

State allies:

Non-state allies:


State opponents

Non-State opponents

Battles and wars

War on Terror
In Afghanistan

In Tajikistan

  • Civil war in Tajikistan

In Chechnya

  • Second Chechen War

In Yemen

In the Maghreb

  • Maghreb insurgency
  • Northern Mali conflict

In Iraq

In Pakistan

In Somalia

  • Somali Civil War (2006–2009)
  • Somali Civil War (2009–present)

In Syria

  • Syrian Civil War
  • Military intervention against ISIL
  • American-led intervention in Syria

In Egypt

  • Sinai insurgency
  • Egyptian Crisis (2011–2014))
Designated as a terrorist organisation by
 United Kingdom
 United States
 United Arab Emirates
Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq
A jihadist flag of uncertain origin

al-Qaeda (Arabic: القاعدة, al-qāʿidah, "the base"), is an armed Islamic group that was started between August 1988 and late 1989. It works as a network, as a stateless army, and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad. Most of the world thinks it is a Takfiri and terrorist organization.

Members of al-Qaeda have performed many acts of terrorism. Most of these have been done against the United States and Shias. Some of its most well-known attacks have been the September 11 attacks, the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the U.S. Navy ship USS Cole in 2000. al-Qaeda has done suicide attacks and simultaneous (at the same time) bombings of different targets.

Among al-Qaeda's goals is for other countries to stop influencing Muslim countries and for a new Islamic caliphate to be made. There have been reports that al-Qaeda believes that Christian and Jewish Islamophobia is trying to destroy Islam and that the killing of bystanders and civilians is religiously justified in jihad.

There have been guesses that there are 500–1,000 operatives in Afghanistan and around 5,000 worldwide. However, there is no confirmation of this.


In June 2001, al-Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which had been associated with each other for many years, merged into 'Qaeda al-Jihad'.

"...the members of Islamic Jihad and its guiding figure Ayman al-Zawahiri have provided the backbone of [al-Quaeda's] leadership. According to officials in the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Zawahiri has been responsible for much of the planning of the terrorist operations against the United States".

Death of Osama bin Laden and current leadership

Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri is the highest-ranking surviving member of al-Qaeda's leadership after Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011.

Death of Abu Yahya al-Libi

Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike on June 4, 2012. He ranked second to Ayman al-Zawahiri at the time. The strike was carried out in the northwest tribal area of Waziristan. The Pakistan Government has protested to the U.S. about the strike.