Fighting Terrorism: Recommendations of Arab Reformists

The question of how to fight Islamic terrorism preoccupies many Arab reformists who are working to denounce Islamist thought, to encourage independent and critical thinking, and to establish values of democracy and human rights in the Muslim world.


Al-Qaeda is a global Islamic terrorist organization founded by Palestinian terrorist operative Abdullah Azzam in 1988. Al-Qaeda originated in Afghanistan as an underground movement that operated against the Soviet occupation. Since its establishment, Al-Qaeda operated under the leadership and funding of Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was officially defined as an organized entity in 1988 by its founder and first leader, Osama bin Laden. Since being defined as an organized entity, Al-Qaeda has become a global Islamic terrorist organization operating in many arenas around the world. Ideologically, Al-Qaeda relies on the Salafi school of Islam, viewing jihad as the personal duty of every Muslim.

Al-Qaeda does not operate in a clear hierarchical framework, but rather as a confederation of terrorist organizations that carry out the organization’s ideology and tactics. Osama bin Laden served as a source of inspiration and guidance for carrying out terrorist activity. The organization also provides various types of assistance and support to terrorist organizations that advocate global jihad around the world.

Al-Qaeda was behind a series of showcase attacks against the United States, the most prominent of which was the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda’s activities also included harming the civilian population and damaging the holy sites of various religions. After a prolonged manhunt, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Army forces on May 2, 2011. He was replaced by his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian who was also one of the founders of Al-Qaeda.

In recent years, Al-Qaeda’s center of power in Afghanistan and Pakistan has grown weaker. At the same time, local networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda in various Muslim countries have grown stronger, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen; Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the Fateh al-Sham Front in Syria.