NewsWorldWhat we know about al Qaeda, the Islamist group...

What we know about al Qaeda, the Islamist group that carried out the 9/11 attacks

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(CNN Spanish) – Here’s a look at the Islamist group al Qaeda, created by Osama bin Laden in 1988, which carried out the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Data

– Al Qaeda (“The base”, in Arabic) was created in 1988 by the Saudi Osama bin Laden with the aim of establishing a pan-Islamic caliphate throughout the Muslim world, according to the office of the National Director of Intelligence of the United States, through a global jihad (or “holy war”).

– In its beginnings, the Sunni and Salafist group was composed of Arab fighters who had fought alongside the Mujahideen against the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.

– Al Qaeda and its affiliates have carried out terrorist attacks around the world, especially in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia. It has cells in a total of 100 countries, according to Global Security.

Saudi Osama bin Laden is seen pointing a gun in this undated photo from al Jazeera TV. (Credit: al Jazeera / Getty Images)

– Its largest attack to date is that of September 11, 2001, when 19 al Qaeda hijackers seized control of four commercial aircraft in the United States and caused them to crash into the Twin Towers, the Pegon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

– Some of its most powerful affiliates are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, Al Shabbaab, in Libya, and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, in Syria. The Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which was once an affiliate of al Qaeda, has become a rival in recent years.

– Al Qaeda is considered a terrorist group by numerous countries and organizations in the world, including USA, China, the UN and the European Union.

Leaders

Bin Laden, founder, first leader and visible face of al Qaeda, was born in 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was the 17th of 52 children born to his father, construction magnate Muhammad Awad bin Laden.

He studied engineering and had more than 20 children with at least six wives.

Ayman al Zawahiri, current leader of al Qaeda, together with Osama bin Laden.

He traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the Mujahideen. He then returned to Saudi Arabia, where he was expelled for his extremist activities. Since then he has taken refuge in Sudan, again Afghanistan and finally in Pakistan.

On May 1, 2011, early in the morning, a small group of US special forces stormed a walled and fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they were hiding. In the shooting Bin Laden and three other people died.

Ayman al Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group –merged with al Qaeda in 1998– became the new leader of a weakened and more decentralized al Qaeda due to the operations of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al Zawahiri was born into a wealthy family in Cairo, Egypt, and is a doctor by profession.

Chronology

1988 – Bin Laden founds al Qaeda in Afghanistan, a country where he had come to fight against the Soviet Union.

1991 – After a brief return to Saudi Arabia, bin Laden is expelled from the country and takes refuge in Sudan with his family and followers.

Image of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (Credit: Getty Images)

February 26, 1993 – A bomb explodes at the World Trade Center in New York, killing six people and wounding hundreds. The US Justice condemns six Muslim radicals, whom the US authorities suspect of having ties to Bin Laden.

October 1993 – Eighteen U.S. military, who were part of a humanitarian mission in Somalia, are killed in an ambush by militants who, apparently, had trained with al Qaeda.

nineteen ninety six – Sudan expels bin Laden. The al Qaeda leader moves to Afghanistan with his family and followers. Two years earlier, Saudi Arabia had taken away his citizenship.

1998 – Al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, led by Ayman al Zawahiri merge, according to United States prosecutors.

February 1998 – Bin Laden and al Zawahiri approve a fatwa (ordering) under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders”: states that Muslims must kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world.

Forensic experts inspect the trains that exploded at the Atocha train station the day before, March 12, 2004 in Madrid. (Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP / Getty Images)

August 7, 1998 – Two attacks with pump trucks It occurs almost simultaneously in front of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.

October 12, 2000 – The bomb attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, in which 17 sailors die and 39 are wounded, it is attributed to bin Laden.

September 11, 2001 – Terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and other sites in the United States leave almost 3,000 dead, and the United States government names Bin Laden as the main suspect.

October 7, 2001 – Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF for its acronym in English begins. US President George W. Bush announces that US and British forces have begun air strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan. These actions will lead to the fall of the Taliban regime in the country and the loss of the al Qaeda base, which begins a more decentralized stage.

March 19, 2003 – In the context of the “War on Terrorism” that began after the September 11 attacks, The United States invades Iraq, a country that he accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction. After a quick military victory against the Iraqi army, a period of heavy fighting against different insurgent groups followed that lasted until 2011.

Members of the group Frente al Nusra, an al Qaeda affiliate, parade calling for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria, in Aleppo in October 2013. (Credit: MAHMUD AL-HALABI / AFP / Getty Images)

2004 – The al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq is created, which will later become ISIS, to participate in the fighting against US forces in Iraq.

March 11, 2004 – A bomb explodes at the Atocha train station in Madrid, Spain, leaving a balance of 193 dead and more than 1,800 injured. The attack was attributed to Islamic militants who lived in Spain, but were inspired by al Qaeda.

July 7, 2005 – Four suicide bombers explode themselves at four points on the public transport system in London, England, killing 52 people. Subsequent research showed links of the attackers with al Qaeda.

May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces storm a walled and fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden and four other people are killed in the ensuing shooting. The US Department of Justice soon dropped the terrorism-related criminal charges against bin Laden.

2011 – Ayman al-Zawahiri It is named al Qaeda leader, weakened by US operations in Afghanistan and the death of bin Laden and deprived of a secure base of operations, will begin to decentralize.

Exclusive: new details on al Qaeda’s reach 4:01

2012 – Al Qaeda makes a foothold in the Syrian Civil War, started the previous year, with the formation of the rebel group Frente al Nusra, which in its current version – Hay’at Tahrir al Sham – continues to fight in the Idlib region.

2014 – Al Qaeda breaks ties with former al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, which is renamed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS, which seeks to impose a caliphate based on sharia law on the territories of Iraq and Syria, becomes a global rival for al Qaeda.

January 7, 2015 – A total of 17 persons killed in attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher grocery store and the Paris, France suburb of Montrouge. The police killed three suspects in different clashes. The investigations attribute the responsibility of the attack to the group al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.

2015 – Through its affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, al Qaeda begins to participate in the Civil War in Yemen, confronting both the Government and the Houthi rebels.

2021- The departure of US troops marks the end of the Afghanistan War, after 20 years, and the return to power of the Taliban. Concerns are growing around the world that the country will once again be a haven for a weakened but resilient al Qaeda.

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