A nonprofit public awareness campaign dedicated to
defeating Al Qaeda on the ideological battlefield
Your Title Text
Your Subtitle text

AQ's Size


A Listing of Its Members, Major Terrorist Attacks and Insurgencies

In addition to Al Qaeda’s Pakistani-based high command and the hundreds of other operatives in its core organization, “Al Qaeda Prime”, Osama bin Laden’s terrorist syndicate includes dozens of affiliates located in over sixty countries throughout the world.  Although America’s post-9/11 campaign appears to have eliminated most of Al Qaeda Prime’s operatives within its former stronghold of Afghanistan, the two most crucial targets have eluded the superpower.  The syndicate’s operational director Ayman al-Zawahiri still controls Al Qaeda, issuing regular communications to the world at large and strategic guidance to the syndicate in private, while Bin Laden remains the indomitable symbolic leader of this anti-American insurgency.  Additionally, many of the Al Qaeda Prime operatives who were sent from Afghanistan and Pakistan to other areas of the world remain at large.  This dispersed group constitutes an unknown number of terrorist agents recruited from the tens of thousands of trainees that filtered through Al Qaeda’s camps, located either in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 or in Pakistan after 9/11.  Following America’s disastrous public relations fallout from the Iraq invasion, the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate’s classification of Al Qaeda being “as strong as ever” suggests that Al Qaeda Prime may in time regenerate its depleted membership with a surge of new recruits motivated to join Bin Laden’s anti-American insurgency.  Furthermore, nearly a decade after 9/11 Al Qaeda’s numerous affiliates remain largely in tact, as evinced by such catastrophic terrorist attacks as the Mumbai Massacre executed via the Pakistani-based affiliate Lashkar-e-Taiba at the behest of the Al Qaeda command sub-unit known as the “313 Brigade”.  Perhaps most troublesome, Al Qaeda Prime has fortified its base in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the large percentage of Taliban operatives allied to Bin Laden under the leadership of Mullah Omar and the “Mehsud” coalition, along with affiliates like the Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks.  The total membership of this umbrella organization that Bin Laden and Zawahiri have cobbled together numbers in the tens of thousands and provides Al Qaeda Prime with a global reach unmatched by any other terrorist network.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden (November 14, 2008): “Al Qaeda, operating from its safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas, remains the most clear and present danger to the United States. Today, virtually every major terrorist threat that my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas. Whether it is command and control, training, direction, money, capabilities, there is a connection to the FATA (Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas)”

Attacks Against Non-American Targets

Since 1993, Bin Laden’s syndicate has launched terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims in over three dozen countries across the world.  Usually avoiding direct claims of responsibility for this nihilistic violence, many of the attacks were not attributed to Al Qaeda until years later.  Some of the group’s most influential terrorist attacks on non-American targets include:

  • The 9/99 Moscow apartment bombings,
  • The December 2001 commando raid on the Indian parliament,
  • The April 2002 bombing of Jews in Tunisia,
  • The October 2002 bombing of Australian tourists in Bali Indonesia,
  • The October 2002 Moscow theatre siege,
  • The October 2002 naval kamikaze bombing of a French oil supertanker in Yemen,
  • The November 2002 bombing of Jewish tourists in Kenya,
  • The May 2003 bombing of Spanish and Jewish tourists in Casablanca,
  • The May 2003 raid on Western residential compounds in Saudi Arabia,
  • The August 2003 bombing of Indians in Mumbai,
  • The November 2003 bombing of British and Jewish tourists in Turkey,
  • The March 2004 Madrid train bombings,
  • The May 2004 raid targeting U.S.-allies in oil facilities and residential compounds in Saudi Arabia,
  • The July 2004 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Uzbekistan,
  • The September 2004 massacre of Russian school children in Beslan,
  • The September 2004 bombing of the Australian embassy in Indonesia,
  • The October 2004 bombing of Israelis in Egypt,
  • The July 2005 London transit bombings,
  • The November 2005 hotel bombings targeting Jews in Jordan,
  • The July 2006 bombing of Indians in Mumbai,
  • The November 2008 massacre of Indians and Jews in Mumbai,
  • The August 2003-June 2006 Zarqawi campaign against Iraqi Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis collaboratoring with the U.S. occupation in Iraq, and
  • The June 2006-present continuation of this campaign by Al Qaeda in Iraq (including chlorine bombs in 2007). 

In addition, the Al Qaeda high command has been tied to numerous other major terrorist attacks in Russia and India, as well as attacks in Pakistan targeting Shiites and Sunni collaborators.

Attacks Against American Targets

Since 1993, Al Qaeda’s leadership has killed over twenty-five hundred American civilians and over one thousand other civilians in sixteen major terrorist attacks against U.S. targets (this tabulation excludes insurgent attacks, such as those that killed Americans within the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan).  These terrorist attacks include:

  • The 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
  • The 1993 assault on American troops in Somalia,
  • The 1995 bombing of the U.S. headquarters for the training of the Saudi national guard in the kingdom’s capital,
  • The 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia,
  • The August 1998 twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa,
  • The October 2000 USS COLE bombing in Yemen’s Gulf of Aden,
  • The 2001 9/11 attack,
  • The May 2003 raid on an American residential compound in Saudi Arabia,
  • The July 2004 bombings of the American and Israeli embassies in Uzbekistan,
  • The October 2004 bombing of an American hotel in Egypt,
  • The December 2004 bombing of a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia,
  • The November 2005 bombing of an American hotel in Jordan,
  • The July 9, 2008 commando raid on the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey,
  • The September 2008 commando raid on the U.S. embassy in Yemen,
  • The September 2008 bombing of an American hotel in Pakistan’s capital,
  • The November 2008 massacre targeting American Thanksgiving congregations in India’s “New York City” (Mumbai), and
  • The July 2009 bombings of American hotels in Indonesia. 

Using his characteristic innuendo in 1996, 2002 and October 2004, Bin Laden claimed personal complicity in the infamous October 1983 bombing of U.S. Marines in Lebanon that killed 241 Americans (an attack previously attributed solely to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah).

In addition to demonstrating the breadth of Al Qaeda’s unprecedented global terrorist campaign, this tabulation of attacks tied to Bin Laden’s inner circle reveals that no Al Qaeda affiliate has launched a major attack on America without authorization from the high command (with one apparent exception, the August 2003 bombing of an American hotel in Indonesia).  In a most impressive demonstration of this command control exercised by the leadership of Bin Laden’s syndicate, no Al Qaeda affiliate has defied the high command’s apparent prohibition of overt terrorist attacks inside the vulnerable American homeland since 9/11.  Perhaps even more than its terrorist attacks, the perseverance of Al Qaeda’s command control over its members and affiliates throughout the 9/11 War serves as a powerful testament to the operational strength of the global syndicate.  Similarly, the U.S.-led alliance’s inability to completely eradicate Al Qaeda’s presence in any of the over sixty nations where it has established bases demonstrates the fortitude of Bin Laden’s syndicate.  In the wake of the host of devastating attacks launched by Al Qaeda against the Western world, the persistence and growth of its affiliates and rejuvenated high command has convinced the U.S. counterterrorism community that the syndicate continues to represent the most imminent existential threat to the superpower.


Bin Laden’s inner circle has been identified as the inciting catalyst for numerous ongoing wars across the world.  Most notably, Bin Laden provoked the worldwide 9/11 War, encompassing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the escalating U.S.-Taliban conflict in Pakistan, and the U.S.-led “shadow war” against Al Qaeda’s presence in over sixty nations.  Additional conflicts spawned by the Al Qaeda syndicate include:

  • The Russo-Chechen War of 1999 and the ensuing Chechen insurgency,
  • The Indo-Pakistani (Kargil) Conflict in 1999 and the related insurgencies in Kashmir and Western India,
  • The East Timor genocide in 1999 and the ensuing Indonesian Islamist insurgency,
  • The Filipino Islamist insurgency,
  • The Chinese Uighur Islamist insurgency,
  • The Thai Islamist insurgency,
  • A Sunni Islamist insurgency in Lebanon,
  • The Yemeni Islamist insurgency,
  • The ongoing Sudanese genocide in Darfur,
  • A resurgent Egyptian Islamist insurgency,
  • A resurgent Algerian Islamist insurgency,
  • A resurgent Islamist insurgency against Israelis abroad,
  • The Moroccan Islamist insurgency,
  • The Nigerian Islamist insurgency,
  • The Ugandan Islamist insurgency,
  • The Somali Islamist insurgency,
  • Along with a host of other insurgencies in the Muslim world.

For more information on Al Qaeda’s post-9/11 terrorist campaign and its leadership’s command control, see Bin Laden’s Plan: The Project for the New Al Qaeda Century by David Malone, chapters 6, 8-9.