Threat Analysis for Al-Qaeda Is essay

Download this essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from essay:

Tactics and Strategies Used by Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda has come to rely on the suicide attack as its major terror tactic, which is not only terrifyingly effective but also most difficult to prevent. The reason for the success of the strategy is simple: any targeted killing has traditionally been difficult to carry out due to a basic human instinct of self-preservation and any terrorist used to prefer to escape unharmed while carrying out a strike. All defensive measures against terror attacks, until recently, were developed while keeping this basic assumption in mind. The suicide bomber has made all such defensive theories irrelevant since an al-Qaeda operative on a suicide mission not only disregards his own safety; he is actually looking forward to his 'martyrdom.' (Smith, 2002)

The suicide bombings also have other inherent advantages: it is simple and inexpensive; it almost certainly guarantees mass casualties and extensive damage; there are no chances of post-attack fears of interrogation since the attacker is dead; and it has a powerful effect on the public and the media because of the horror such an attack generates (Sprinzak, 2000, p. 66). The only problem is to find people who are willing to sacrifice themselves, and due to the fanatical nature of its teachings, al-Qaeda seems to have no dearth of such people in its ranks. Apart from the suicide bombings that al-Qaeda has adopted as its major terror tactic in recent times, the organization also has a marked interest in airborne attacks. Apart from the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda has been involved in several thwarted plans involving airplanes, the most significant of which was the plan code named "Oplan Bojinka" in which 11 U.S. airliners were to be destroyed over the Pacific Ocean as they traveled from Asia back to the United States (Smith, 2002)

Another favorite tactic of al-Qaeda is to exploit porous borders to smuggle in potential terrorists as part of illegal immigrant rings. It has come to light that hundreds of illegal immigrants of Middle Eastern origin were smuggled across the U.S.-Mexican border in the late 1990s, some of whom could have been al-Qaeda linked terrorists (Dillon, 2001).

Selection of Victims and Targets

Following the 'fatwas' issued by bin Laden in the 1990s that it is quite legitimate to attack civilian targets, it has become easy for al-Qaeda operatives to 'select' targets. However, al-Qaeda has always endeavored to make spectacular terrorist attacks to gain publicity. In recent years, it has also targeted security forces in Pakistan that have been engaged in fighting the al-Qaeda and Taliban in its tribal areas. It has also reportedly been involved in assassination attempts on former Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, and the assassination of its former PM, Benazir Bhutto. However, due to the popularity of Ms. Bhutto in Pakistan, al-Qaeda has not publicly admitted to her assassination (Khan, 2008). The organization has also been accused of being involved in the drug trade which is flourishing in Afghanistan. However, considering the past record of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, when they had banned and controlled such trade for religious reasons, there is no conclusive proof of the accusation.

Past Terrorist Activities: Successes and Failures

Al-Qaeda has been found to be involved in a number of terrorist attacks in the past including the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; the truck bomb explosion at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia in 1996 in which 19 U.S. servicemen were killed; the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa; bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in a port in Yemen, 2000; the 9/11 attacks; a spate of suicide bombings in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Indonesia during 2002-3; the Madrid train bombings in 2004; train bombings in London on 7/7/2005; and numerous suicide attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in recent years. Several potentially devastating al-Qaeda attacks have also been thwarted including the 'Oplan Bojinka' plan in 1995 and an alleged plot hatched in London in 2006 to blow up as many as 10 planes using liquid explosives (Hayes, et. al. 2008).

Future Threat / Potential Targets

Due to the seamless and fluid nature of al-Qaeda, it is difficult to predict its potential targets and the extent of threat posed by al-Qaeda. There is no doubt that al-Qaeda has suffered major set-backs to its core organizational structure following the removal of the Taliban and the capture and/or killing of several key al-Qaeda operatives. Since then, al-Qaeda has concentrated to attacking 'softer' targets in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They have also re-grouped to an extent in the almost inaccessible Tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

My Own Analysis / Opinion of the Terrorist Group

After the disruption of al-Qaeda's established headquarter and operations in Afghanistan after 9/11, the organization has served more as a symbolic source of inspiration for various Islamic terrorist splinter groups around the world rather than being involved directly in major terrorist plans. It has been alleged that al-Qaeda has established similar sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan from where it is poised to launch attacks similar to the 9/11 attacks on the Western world. This assessment seems to be exaggerated and is based on the increase in effectiveness of the attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan in recent times and the rise in insurgency in the tribal and northern areas of Pakistan. The problem with such assessment is that several half-informed analysts in the Western world, particularly in the U.S., have tended to paint all Islamic militant groups with the same brush. Most of the people fighting the NATO troops in Afghanistan or the Pakistani security forces in its tribal areas are the Taliban (whose main aim is to oust the occupying forces from Afghanistan) and not the hard-core al-Qaeda. It is necessary to differentiate between such groups in order to bring the relatively moderate militants in the mainstream and to isolate the avowed, hard-core terrorist elements of al-Qaeda. This, of course, does not mean that al-Qaeda is no more a terrorist threat. It still has a loosely connected global network and is committed in its objectives; hence the global community cannot afford to be complacent and let its guard down.


Dixon, N. "How the CIA created Osama bin Laden." Green Left online. 19 September 2001. Retrieved on October 23, 2008 at

Dillon, S. "Iraqi Accused of Smuggling Hundreds in Mideast to U.S.," the New York Times, 26 October 200l, p. A18.

The Foundation of New Terrorism." (2004) Chapter 2 of National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission). Retrieved on October 23, 2008 at

Hayes, L. et. al. "Al-Qaeda: Osama bin Laden's Network of Terror." n.d. Retrieved on October 23, 2008 at

Jenkins, B.M. (2002). Countering Al Qaeda: An Appreciation of the Situation and Suggestions for Strategy / . Santa Monica, CA: Rand.

Khan, a. "Baitullah Mehsud: Scapegoat or Perpetrator in Benazir Bhutto's Assassination?"

Terrorism Monitor. Volume 6, Issue 5. March 7, 2008. Retrieved on October 23, 2008 at

Piszkiewicz, D. (2003). Terrorism's War with America: A History. Westport, CT: Praeger

Smith, P.J. (2002). Transnational Terrorism and the Al Qaeda Model: Confronting New Realities. Parameters, 32(2), 33+.

Sprinzak, E. "Rational Fanatics," Foreign Policy, No. 120 (September/October 2000), 66.

Al-Qaeda literally means "the base."

Mujahideen is the Arabic name for Islamic warriors; Afghan fighters who fought against the Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979, became known as Afghan Mujahideen

The Soviet-Afghan War ended in 1989 when the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 1989 after a protracted nine-year struggle. The Communist government in Afghanistan was quickly overthrown by the Mujahideen and the country fell into bitter factional fighting.

There is a long-standing historical rivalry between the dominant Sunni sect and Shia sects dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad

Taliban actually means students

Saudi Arabia is the home to two of the holiest cities of the Muslim World --…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Threat Analysis For Al-Qaeda Is" (2008, October 23) Retrieved October 21, 2016, from

"Threat Analysis For Al-Qaeda Is" 23 October 2008. Web.21 October. 2016. <>

"Threat Analysis For Al-Qaeda Is", 23 October 2008, Accessed.21 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Al Qaeda Current and Future

    It is an exaggeration, but not entirely so, that the United States could have done worse in dealing with Al Qaeda by simply attacking, for example, Belgium, Germany, and Italy -- attacking Al Qaeda's strongholds among those who live in the shadows of a world they do not share. (p. 592). As the nations of Europe continue to hammer out their respective differences in their inexorable march to becoming the

  • Al Qaeda Is an International Terrorist Organization

    Al Qaeda is an international terrorist organization, which was formed in August 1988. The word Al Qaeda means 'The Base'. This organization is considered as a top threat for the world super power United States of America. Al Qaeda is responsible for many attacks throughout the world with its extensive and effective networks. This group is responsible for attack like the September 7, 2001 attack on the world trade centre

  • Al Qaeda s Next Major Domestic Attack on

    Al Qaeda's Next Major Domestic Attack On The United States The fact that the United States has not experienced a major domestic attack since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 is firm testament to the relentless work by the Western intelligence community in identifying potential threats and preventing them from reaching fruition. In fact, a number of such attempts have been detected and eliminated in recent years, some of which

  • How Al Qaeda Has Shaped the Way the United States Uses Counter Terrorism...

    Al Queda Has Shaped the Way How Al Qaeda has shaped the way the United States uses counter terrorism? Transnational terrorist networks are currently the greatest emerging threat to global security. They operate in dispersed groups with leaders who are capable of blending into their surroundings and becoming part of the landscape. This aspect alone makes them difficult to counter. Further, they operate as non-state entities with no accountable sovereign. They threaten

  • Developing Coherent Strategy for a Long War With Al Qaeda

    Al-Qaeda Developing a Coherent Strategy for a Long War with Al-Qaeda The phrase 'War on Terror' would have been a very uncommon phenomena if it was discussed somewhere near the 1970s. Till then, wars had only been fought amongst nations for the race to become a super power and achieve global supremacy over other states. In present times, the term 'War on Terror' has brought a new dimension to the concept of

  • Radical Islamism and Al Qaeda

    In that view, Islamic radicals do not hate us because of who (or what) we are, but only what we do in their lands (Scheuer, 2004). Other Western observers believe that view is naive and that while radical Islamists certainly do hate us because of what we do, they also hate us for who we are because the typical Western way of life if offensive to God and to

  • Threat of Terrorism Weighing Public Safety in Seattle

    Terrorism in Seattle Even before the World Trade Center attack in September, 2011, most major cities in the United States were not only aware, but anticipatory regarding the potential for a terrorist attack. Seattle has been fortunate in that it has never experienced an actual international attack, but has had three major domestic incidents since 1999 that continue to be in the minds of Emergency Management professionals. In 1999, Ahmed Ressam,

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved