His extremism has always been well-known and knowingly harboring him is a significant international offense. In December of 2000 the United Nations imposed sanctions against an Afghanistan struggling under Taliban rule, as a way to get the official government to hand Bin-laden over to international authorities, to answer for his already long list of terrorist crimes and collusions. Since 1998 more than 150 members of Al-Qaeda has been arrested in thirty different nations, for crimes associated with planning, supporting, conducting or abetting terrorist attacks all over the world. These attacks were but a warm up for the masterful September 11th attacks that brought the U.S. And in many ways the entire world to its knees, with its mostly successful administration of terror and its incredible loss of life and property. The attacks led directly to the invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. And the overthrow of the Taliban government, that was to a large degree seen as holding the nation hostage with extreme fundamentalism, especially with regard to social conservatism, but who was one of Bin-Laden's most logical allies in extremist views.
The U.S. government produced compelling evidence of Al Qaeda's involvement in this 'day of infamy' and this led President Bush to announce before U.S. Congress on 20 September 2001 a 'global war against terrorism'. Because Afghanistan refused to immediately hand over Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda members to the Americans, an Allied force occupied the country in 2001-2
After many unsuccessful attempts to capture Osama Bin-Laden, smaller forces still remain in Afghanistan, attempting to rehabilitate the nation from years of war and totalitarian rule. Despite inside and outside counterintelligence as well as years of attempts, Bin-Laden is still at large and infrequently sends messages of hope and instruction to followers all over the world through the media. "In September 2003, a message was broadcast on Al Jazeera TV by Osama Bin Laden. It is believed he is now in Pakistan near the Afghan border." (at the close of 2004) the Al Qaeda group, on the other hand has dispersed throughout the world, and many are "stationed" in affluent Western cities. The are for the most part quietly living out their lives, and biding their time until they are called upon to act, again as, "they will always vow to kill Americans and their Allies."
Al-Zawahiri's biographical story demonstrates one that parallels Bin-Laden, and the two share a comradeship that allows them to balance the other's shortcomings. Al_Zawahiri's story is interesting in that he began his adult life as a talented physician and surgeon. He was indoctrinated into the world of extremism through his participation and later his leadership of an Egyptian terrorist group and only later became Bin-Laden's confidant, intellectual and ideological mentor and potentially his successor as the leader of Al-Qaeda. He is only a few years older than Bin-Laden. He was born in 1953 to an affluent Egyptian family and he lived his young life in Maadi, one of the more affluent of the suburbs of Egypt. His two grandfathers were significant and prominent members of the broader Egyptian community. "His grandfathers were the rector of al-Azhar University, the Islamic world's oldest and most prestigious religious school, and president of Cairo University, Egypt's leading modern secular university.
Unlike Bin-Laden Al-Zawahiri had an earlier indoctrination into extremist views, and therefore a longer clandestine life, a time in which he used his intelligence to formulate a plan of action. Having made up his mind to elicit change, after a monumental Islamic defeat, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Al-Zawahiri became a staunch supporter of political Islam, and at only 14 years of age he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and two years later he joined the clandestine Islamic Jihad, a violent extremist group of small and tightly knit cells.
However, 1967 had been a defining moment for him as it was for many in the Arab world. After the disastrous Arab defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli (Six Day) war and the disillusionment over Arab (secular) nationalism and socialism that followed, al-Zawahiri turned to political Islam.
Al-Zawahiri rapidly rose in the organization and by the age of 20 he became a prominent leader, organizer, strategizer and recruiter for the movement. Al-Zawahiri was arrested with many others after Anwar Sadat was assassinated, as a part of a large roundup of dissidents in the nation and though he had no known connection to Sadat's death he was however convicted of a weapons charge and sentenced to three years, of which he only served a little over one. His brush with prison and his resulting criminal record made it difficult for him to return to respectable life, as a physician, though he did briefly try to return to medical practice after his release, but found life in Egypt difficult. At this point he emigrated to Saudi Arabia to practice medicine but again quickly moved on to Afghanistan to treat people in field hospitals during the occupation and resistance to the Soviet invasion. There Al-Zawahiri meets Bin Laden's long time extremist teacher from Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Azzam, and Bin Laden himself through collective political activism in an organization founded by Azzam called the Jihad Service Bureau, whose mission was to recruit Arabs from all over the Middle East and North Africa to fight a Jihad against the Soviets. The three men formed a bond through collective ideologies, regarding global jihad.
After the Soviet defeat in 1989, Zawahiri returned to Egypt and to his leadership role in Islamic Jihad. Zawahiri played an important role during the 1990s, organizing underground operations and integrating former mujahidin into the ranks of Islamic Jihad. The violence and terrorism of Islamic Jihad were met with equal force by Egyptian military and police. Bloody confrontations were accompanied by the arrest, interrogation, torture, and imprisonment of thousands. In 1992 Zawahiri moved to Sudan with bin Laden, and in 1996 both returned to Afghanistan. From there, al-Zawahiri continued to be involved in the jihad against the Egyptian state.
Zawahiri is frequently given credit for the international expansion of the jihad, and he is said to be the mastermind behind many terrorist attacks that are international in flavor.
He is believed to have been the mastermind behind terrorist attacks, including the massacre of fifty-eight tourists in Luxor in 1997, for which he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court in 1999.
Zawahiri eventually merged Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda, with the assistance of its leader Bin Laden, now his great friend, which better served the global jihad ideology. Some give him near full credit for the planning of the September 11th attacks as well as the global push to expand the jihad to American and other Western targets.
Ideology: The Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood, has a long and chaotic political history that transverses nearly every Islamic nation and every political movement since the mid-1920's. From its inception it was a political movement that attempted to create a pan Islamic society that would fight against Western influences in Islamic nations and the world. The Muslim Brotherhood, just like nearly every Islamic nation has gone through periods of conservatism and acceptance of modernism and/or political change. The group quikely became a very political organization.
The Egyptian Hassan Al-Banna (1906-1949) studied with Ridha's circle as a young man, and in 1928 he launched in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern Islamic political movement. Al-Banna sought to unite and mobilize Muslims against the cultural and political domination of the West. However, the Brotherhood eventually reached an understanding with the regime of King Faruq, which saw the Brothers as a useful counter to nationalist movements. As a result, revolutionaries among the Salafists [purist Islamic believers] began to feel less and less comfortable with the Brotherhood.
Collectively the Muslim Brotherhood, seemed to almost certainly stray form its original intent by collectively supporting the government in power and it was punished for its alliance.
Just as these differences within the Brotherhood were coming to the surface, Gamal Abdel Nasser and other military officers overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. The new socialist and nationalist military regime suppressed the Brotherhood in 1954, claiming it had plotted to assassinate Nasser.
There were many other fundamentalist reform movements that predated and post date the Muslim Brotherhood yet it is the ideology of returning to a simpler time, when outside influences, seen and often realized as corrupting the nature of the faith, state and culture of the Islamic world that draws them together, almost regardless of their political leanings, moderate or extreme doctrines and demands for action.
It was not until the 1960s that these South Asian currents influenced the revolutionary Salafists, through the writings of Pakistani cleric Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979) (12) and their impact on another Egyptian outsider,…