As the United States relocated its embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri used the occasion to call for jihad, claiming the international system is hostile toward Muslims.
Al-Qaida has rebounded in recent years, rebranding its message and building local branches across the Middle East and Africa. The following brief is from The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report. For more information on how to get the whole report, please click here.
Bottom Line: While the Islamic State (ISIS) grabbed the spotlight of international terrorism, al-Qaida has meticulously rooted itself in several conflicts across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, where it has seized upon local grievances to appeal to disenfranchised communities and build its brand as a champion of victimized Sunnis. Consequently, al-Qaida’s strategy, combined with its long-term vision, renders the movement the most dangerous and entrenched terrorist network devoted to carrying out spectacular attacks against the West, and the United States in particular.
Background: Al-Qaida, meaning “the base,” was established in 1988 in the Pakistani city of Peshawar close to the Afghan border under the guidance of Osama bin-Laden, prominent Palestinian cleric Abdullah Azzam, current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and several hardline mujahedeen rebels who had fought against the Soviet Union during its invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.[i]