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Counterterrorism and War on Terror

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The violent history of terrorism across the globe has left its mark on the world. The attacks have shaped the way terrorist organizations are viewed and categorized in today’s society. Over the years, terrorist organizations have adapted, adjusted, and evolved their plans of action to further their agendas. With this being a current issue, there has been an abundant amount of research conducted to overseeing how terrorist groups operate, their motives, and how to better prepare for future attacks. For example, one of the most known, violent, Islamist militant organizations is none other than Al-Qaeda. Like all terrorist organizations, this group and its members were assembled because of like-minded objectives and beliefs. This paper will critically examine the depths of Al-Qaeda by providing information regarding the history, ideology, leadership, and counterterrorism.

Beginning in 1988, Al-Qaeda was founded under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden. This organization’s structure can be viewed as a business, as well as network. It operates on its own and with other terrorist organizations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and many others. It is documented that this union was formed during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in an effort to support Muslims and advance Islamic beliefs .After the Afghan War, one would assume the organization to break ties among each other once their objective was complete. However, they remained an organization due to corrupt Islamic regimes, foreign presence, and foreign intervention, something that Al-Qaeda strongly opposes. The primary purpose of Al-Qaeda is one that most terrorist organizations share as a whole. Their efforts are aimed towards advancing their principles while defending what they believe and see as threats towards Islam and Muslim. As a reaction, violent attacks were committed as a way to express their beliefs and the unwanted presence of foreign intervention. Although there were violent acts being committed, those participating deemed their actions as justifiable because they believed it had to be done for religious reasons . This thought process is very common among terrorist groups. Information can easily be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and organizations, mislead, resulting in violent activity. Also, to better prepare for the future acts and possible retaliation, Al-Qaeda provided militant camps for paramilitary training and intelligence. These camps allowed the organization to be adaptive in learning, and one step of ahead of the nations they oppose.

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While attempting to stay one step ahead of their enemies, Al-Qaeda is considered one of the most hunted groups in history. This is because this group has been committing numerous deadly attacks, in hopes of spreading their agenda. Besides their founding, they made their first debut in the United States on February 26,1993. In this event, a bomb exploded inside of van stationed under the Twin Towers in New York, killing 6 people. At the time, there were connections being made that Al-Qaeda was linked to the attack. Until another attack took place in 1998, where a truck fused with a bomb, exploded at the U.S embassies. This violent act left 224 deceased, 12 of which, were Americans. After this, specific attack, President Clinton declared Osama Bin Laden an enemy of the states. Unlike popular belief, these attacks did not generate as much attention for Al- Qaeda as one would expect. However, they are known more specifically for the tragic attack of terrorism that took place on September 11, 2001 in the United States. In this attack, there were four hijacked United States passenger planes. Of the four, three successfully completed their suicide missions by crashing into the World Trade Center, in New York, and the pentagon, in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane, however, did not make it to its initial destination due to passengers fighting back for control. Although a great stand for the passengers, the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. The horrendous attack resulted in death for all passengers on each plane, as well as a significant number of civilians on the ground. According to Wedgwood , this attack was considered an act of war due to the destructiveness it caused and the targets that were set. Even after the 9/11 attack, Al-Qaeda continued terrorizing and promoting their beliefs. According to Riedel, weeks before the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, information from a compound in Pakistan revealed an anniversary attack to mark 10 years since the September 11 attack. Over the years, the organization grown stronger and more organized. Osama Bin Laden’s death “accelerated the network into the first global, nongovernmental terror organization.”

The culprit behind the violence, Al-Qaeda has committed to inflicting, forms from the basis of their ideological beliefs and leadership. As previously stated, their purpose is to promote and inspire Islamic movements and Muslims masses, while attacking those that threatened them. Leaders display these acts by keeping their values and beliefs at the forefront of every attack and operation. The leadership behind the principles play a very important role. Al-Qaeda is known to have a more complex and indirect leadership. According to Marion & Uhl-Bien, the complexity helps to ensure the survival and being indirect helps to capitalize on opportunities. For example, the strength of the group does not solely rely on the leader. This is because everyone shares a common vision and with the fall of one leader, another will rise.

Counterterrorism has been successful in weakening the virtual army. According to Jenkins, the United States has reduced Al-Qaeda operational capabilities for ten years by pounding on them. For example, the death of Al-Qaeda’s founding leader, Osama Bin Laden, has caused the organization to disperse into several groups. However, some feel that they still pose a great threat. The separation of the organization has no effect on the numbers of members with those shared values that will continue to remain. Al-Qaeda operates in secrecy, with existing monetary reserves and the ability to recruit and mobilize their supporters and fighters. The organization’s method has changed from direct terrorist attacks to individual jihadism.

In conclusion, a definite end for the war on terror is not plausible. Terrorist attacks will continue to persist whether big or small. With regard to Al-Qaeda, there has been a reduction in attacks on United States soil. However, that does not mean that the group will give in or dismantle at any period of time. Even after Al-Qaeda’s operational basis is completely dismantled, other terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, will be on the rise . The greatest solution is to maintain efforts in counterterrorism by implementing more strategies and intelligence into those that terrorize.

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