Fifteen years on from the 9/11 attacks and more than five years after the death of Osama bin Laden, killed in a raid by US special forces at his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan, what has happened to Al Qaeda?
It has not carried out any such major attacks for years. So does it even still exist in the same form or has it evolved?
Euronews asked Qais Al-Azzawi, former Iraqi Ambassador to the Arab League.
He told us: “Of course Al Qaeda still exists, and its leader Ayman El Zawahri is the successor to Osama bin Laden, and the deputy leader is Ahmed Abou el-Kheir. This organisation is located on the Pakistan Afghan border, it remains in contact with the other branches, and those are in Saudi Arabia, in the countries of north Africa, elsewhere in Africa and also in Yemen.”
Founded in 1987 by Abdullah Azzam and his follower Osama bin Laden, during the first war in Afghanistan against the Soviets, Al Qaeda came to wider world attention in 1998 with the bomb attacks targeting the “US embassies in the Kenyan capital Nairobi” and Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam”:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_United_States_embassy_bombings, in which more than 300 people died.
Al Qaeda went on to claim attacks in May 2003 in Casablanca, the March 11 2004 bombings in Madrid and those on the July 7th 2005 in London.
The murders in and around the Paris offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, were later claimed by Al Qaeda in Yemen.
After the September 11th attacks, the United States, with a coalition of other countries, went into Afghanistan in late 2001. The objective was to destroy Al Qaeda and their hosts the Taliban.
So with the death of Bin Laden what has happened to Al Qaida?
Qais Al-Azzawi says it is no longer calling the shots: “Al Qaeda’s principle enemy now is Daesh – the group that calls itself Islamic State – because Daesh revolted against al-Qaida. You have to know that all these terrorist organisations like al-Qaida, Daesh, the Al-Nusra Front and Boko Haram, even Daesh leader al-Baghdadi, all followed the rules laid down by Osama bin Laden, they may not get along with Ayman al-Zawahiri but they’re fine with the man they see as their spiritual father – Osama bin Laden.”
Al Qaeda’s current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is content since Bin Laden’s death to make declarations rather than carry out direction action.
In addition, the terrorist organisations who pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda such as so-called Islamic State and others in the Middle East and Africa have declared independence and follow the orders of their local chiefs.