Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Al Qaeda leaders and affiliates have conducted sophisticated public relations and media campaigns since the mid-1990s. Terrorism analysts believe that these campaigns have been designed to elicit psychological reactions and communicate complex political messages to a global audience as well as to specific subpopulations in the Islamic world, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Some officials and analysts believe that Al Qaedas messages contain signals that inform and instruct operatives to prepare for and carry out new attacks. Bin Laden and other leading Al Qaeda figures have referred to their public statements as important primary sources for parties seeking to understand Al Qaedas ideology and political demands. Global counterterrorism operations since 2001 appear to have limited Bin Ladens ability to provide command and control leadership to Al Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups. Other Al Qaeda leaders and affiliates continue to release statements that encourage and provide guidance for terrorist operations. Iraq has become a focal point for jihadist rhetoric, underscoring Al Qaeda leaders interest in Iraq and support for the ongoing insurgency. This report reviews Al Qaedas use of public statements from the mid-1990s to the present and analyzes the evolving ideological and political content of those statements. The report focuses primarily on statements made by Osama Bin Laden, but also considers statements made by Ayman al Zawahiri, the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Iraq-based Al Qaeda affiliates, and Al Qaeda military leader Sayf al Adl. The report will be updated periodically. For background on Al Qaeda, see CRS Report RL33038, Al Qaeda Profile and Threat Assessment, by Kenneth Katzman.
- Sociology and Law
- Unconventional Warfare