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Array of contemporary global jihadist terrorism: An overview
Terrorism is relatively considered to be a disparaging term. Generally, it is defined as the use of violence and threat to intimidate or coerce to attain some goal especially for political purposes(s). While international jurists defined terrorism dissimilarly, largely there is no unanimity amongst countries about the definition of terrorism due to their respective political system and sensitiveness of the particular issue or violent subject(s).

However, 193 member countries of the United Nations (UN) are adhering to definition of terrorism adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1994, which inter alia declared terrorism as a criminal act to provoke a State by a group of persons to achieve their political purpose(s) in any unjustifiable circumstances.

Since terrorism is a discepted appellation and laden with politics and sentiment, it is arduous to unravel history of its global proliferation. Any violent activity against a State by a group can be categorized as a terrorist activity but due to political polity and sentiments of the masses it may not be imperative on other countries to treat such act as a terrorist activity.

However, terrorism is such blistering subject that its history can be traced from 1st century AD itself, whereas emergence of modern day terrorism can be attributed to the 'Reign of Terror', which took place from September 1793 to July 1794 in France during fight between rival political groups engaged in the famous French Revolution. Meanwhile, at present there are about one hundred fifty jihadi, fanatic and political groups, originated from different countries, which have been officially designated as terrorist organizations by various governments in the world.

The nascent of modern day global jihadist terrorism under the aegis of Osama bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda organisation can be attributed to the erstwhile Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. During nine years long Soviet war in Afghanistan, USA played a pivotal role in arming and providing finances to Afghan Mujahideen under code name 'Operation Cyclone'.

Since Afghan Mujahideen also included Osama-led Arab Mujhideen, while US extended support to it in the form of arms supply, Saudi Arabia provided funds to them. It is believed that during the Afghan war Osama was a pro-American but latter he developed anti-American stance when the war culminated into withdrawal of erstwhile Soviet Union forces from Afghanistan in February 1989. Thus origin of formation of Al-Qaeda is traced by the end of 1988 during the Afghan war itself.

Al- Qaeda, in its series of assailments, directed towards USA beginning from December 1992 when it bombed a hotel in Aden, Yemen, presuming that US troops were staying there, to suicidal air attacks on World Trade Center, New York on September 11, 2001, which resulted into death of about 3000 persons and injuries to over 6000 persons virtually shook the USA and challenged its worldwide supremacy.

Once George Bush had said "When USA affects, the world affects". Finally USA succeeded in eliminating Osama bin Laden on May 21,2011 when US commandos attacked Laden's house in Abbottabad in Pakistan. President Obama commented on the killing of Osama and had said "Wicked witch is dead".

Predominantly, Al-Qaeda rose and fell between the period of 1989 to 2011. Death of Osama bin Laden, resulted in the formation of regional jihadist franchise around the world, mainly around Middle East, Asia, Africa with emergence of large number of jihadist sympathizers and supporters in Europe due to different agendas in different regions of senior Qaeda leadership.

After the death of Osama bin Laden, while over 80 per cent of Al-Qaida's leadership has been either believed to be killed or captured, the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the official successor of Osama are also not known. Except that he occasionally releases his videos, Zawahiri is virtually on the run.

Concisely a number of offshoots of Al-Qaeda and some other independent jidhadi militant groups are operating mainly due to their s0-called national and regional grievances and ambitions in different continents and being run independently. In this series, Iraq based Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is most active breakaway group of Al-Qaeda since June 2014, under the leadership of Abu Bakar-al-Bagdhadi, an ex-leader of the Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Formed in April 2013, ISIS which comprises of 7000 combat troops, has an ambitious plan to establish a caliphate that is an Islamic state, to be located in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria. Some parts of Iraq, including city of Mosul and Baiji and Syria's largest oil field, al-Omar are under effective control of ISIS. The successful emergence and rise of ISIS eclipsed it parent organization, Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Besides ISIS, Al-Nusra Front, a branch of Al-Qaeda is also operating in Syria. After the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 201, Al-Nusra Front was formed in Deir Ezzor in Syria in January 2013 during the civil war in the country to over throw Assad government and establish a Pan Islamic State.

This Front, reportedly received financial aid from Qatar and succeeded in seizing a large territory in Syria and Iraq. Since Al-Nusra Front is considered to be an extension of Al-Qaeda in Syria , it is opposed by the ISIS. Al-Nusra took the responsibility of majority of terrorists attacks occurred in Syria in the recent past and gaining strength day by day.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is another significant offshoot Jihadi group of Al-Qaeda. Based in eastern Yemen, it was formed in January 2009 as a merger between the Yemeni and Saudi Al-Qaeda branches and was led by Nasser al-Wuhayshi, a former Yemini aide to Osama bin Laden Also known as Al-Qaeda fi Jazirat al-Arab, it is known to be most active jihadi terrorist group against Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the USA.

The formation of AQAP is attributed to the weakening central leadership of the Al-Qaeda. This group, which also carried out anti-USA terrorist activities, wants to establish an Islamic caliphate by over throwing Saudi and Yemeni governments. AQAP attacked Saudi oil facilities, USA and other foreigners and security forces in Yemen and Saudi Arabia in regular intervals. It came to prominence in 2003 with bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and attack on US Embassy in Sanaa in Yemen in 2008.

Furthermore, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is another Jihadi affiliate of Al-Qaeda, which has roots in North Africa and in Algerian civil war of 1990s. Formerly known as Salafost Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) it came into international prominence in September 2006 as AQIM and aligned itself with Al-Qaeda's international network with the aim of spreading Islamic laws and Jihad across West Africa also.

Iran and Sudan have been accused of financing this dreadful jihadi organization in Africa. Its anti-USA stance is focused in North Africa as this group seeks to expel Westerners from historically Muslim lands. AQIM's areas of operations include Algeria, Nigar, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Chad.

Meanwhile, Al Shabaab, which is also an affiliate of Al-Qaeda and fighting in Somalia and also operates in Uganda and Kenya. Primarily it is fighting against internationally recognized Somali Federal Government. Al-Shabab was formed in 2006 and in 2012 it joined Al-Qaeda, with an estimated strength of over five thousand youth Sunni militants. The rise of Al-Shabaab and AQIM is considered to be surge of Al-Qaeda in Africa.

Despite dissipated leadership of Al-Qaeda, Sunni jihadists are primarily supporters of weakened Al-Qaeda and its aforesaid offshoots and affiliates. In the recent past their groups have gained strength in especially in the Arab region. They are predominately fighting for the Islamic causes, including Palestine and against the foreign powers, mainly Western aggression and the USA; corruption, domestic injustice and disparities in their respective country and region. Even though such jihadist groups may not succeed in achieving their goals in totality, it is unlikely that they may vanish from the international map of terrorism, in near future.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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