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Ultimate Goals of Jihadist Terrorists

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Al-Qaeda was established in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden. It was designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1999. It has been known by several names such as New Jihad, Osama Bin Laden Organization/Network and the Islamic Army.


One of the main objectives of Al-Qaeda is toppling/removal of “traitor” governments of Muslim countries and consequent set up a global pan-Islamic caliphate. This caliphate would be governed by the Sharia law. “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders” was the 1998 banner through which this objective was declared (Bruce, 2005). It was declared that Muslims had the duty of killing civilians and military personnel of United States and her allies (Foreign Terrorist Organizations, 2012).

One of the short term goals in the furtherance of a pan- Islamic caliphate is the expulsion of Islamic leaders who are seen to be co-operative with United States and her allies (Crone & Hinds, 1986). Al-Qaeda and its supporters claim that United States involvement in the affairs of Islamic countries is an intention to dominate Islam. By extension, the leaders that come up after United States has intervened in the affairs of Islamic countries are those that tend to be pro-Western, and who are supposedly accountable to United States and her allies. Al-Qaeda and her supporters claim that domination of Islamic countries is a sub-goal of the United States, in the furtherance of its goal of creation of a new world order. It is believed that the new world order is a plan to have one global government and religion (Atran, 2010).

Al-Qaeda and its supporters claim that the United States has established puppet Islamic governments, such as those of Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Mali, and has caused the Islamic religion to be mixed up with Western culture (Donner, 1981). Infusion of western culture in Muslim countries has previously angered many Muslims. There is evidence that this was the main reason why the Iran Revolution occurred, leading to creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the late 1970s. Shortly before the revolution, the streets of Iran had pictures of half-naked women and adverts promoting alcohol and cigarettes. The revolution succeeded on the basis of the need for a new strand of Islam, and led to the creation of Islamic Republic of Iran (Bale, 2006).

Al-Qaeda has shot down United States military helicopters, attacked military bases and embassies. People who are suspected to be spying on terrorism-related activities have been tortured or killed. In fact, Al-Qaeda and its Supporters argue that the United States has intentionally generated conflict in Islamic countries, and then moved her troops there. This is believed to be a disguise of the intention to put into office leaders who are friendly to the United States and her allies.

 Al-Qaeda hijacked commercial jets and run them into New York buildings. This was the most destructive and publicized attack (Wright, 2007).  It bombed United States embassies in Dares Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, in August 1998. It has carried out suicide bombings and Mombasa, Kenya and taken hostages. Most of the targeted victims are United States embassy workers and tourists. One of the reasons why North, West and East African countries are targeted stems from the perception that United States and her allies will reduce government representatives and other public service personnel from these countries. This will facilitate terrorist occupation in Islamic countries such as Somalia and Nigeria, thereby creating room for manipulation of people in electing leaders. In the past, leaders suspected to be too lenient to United States have been removed from office and replaced by hardliners.

Al-Qaeda has established military training camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Somalia. Recruits are trained to attack the military and the civilian population. They are trained to use all kinds of weaponry. Recruits who are to be involved in suicidal attacks undergo a lengthier and more spiritual training where they are convinced that the attacks are holy wars and that they will be rewarded (Benjamin & Simon, 2002). These attacks are designed to instill fear and force United States and her allies suspend or abandon their occupation in Islamic countries, creating opportunities for Islamic countries to be more independent.

One of the main interests of United States is the protection of her citizens who are in foreign countries as government representatives or tourists. In order to protect them, the United States has increased intelligence and security personnel. Since her citizens have been terrorists’ main target in the past, more security measures have been put in place. Her servicemen and civilians have been victims of bombings, shoot-outs and kidnappings. Kidnapping United States citizens has been effective in forcing the government to influencing the foreign policy of the United States. President Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan mainly because he was not able to rescue United States’ citizens held captive in Iran. They were released shortly after Reagan was sworn in as president, resulting to humiliation of Carter and terrorist conviction that hostage-taking was effective. United States is committed to protecting her citizens, enhance global peace and shape her foreign policy.

United States has been in the forefront in the execution of global policies. The nation is the major financier of United Nations. In effect, and by reason of being a superpower, she has overwhelming interest in many global initiatives such as the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They include prevention of poverty, improved health and global partnership for development. Countries that need to put more effort in order to achieve objectives of MDGs by 2015 deadline are mostly in Africa, Asia and South America. It is necessary to increase the presence of United States in these countries (Bergen, 2011). In general, increased presence due to national and international interests has been an obstacle to Al-Qaeda.

It would be impossible for Al-Qaeda to carry out these goals without confronting the United States or targeting her. The United States is the most superior country; culturally, militarily and technologically. Her influence is felt all over, even in the decision making processes of many countries. As pointed above, United States is committed to ensuring security of her citizenry and fighting terrorism. Further, she relies on intelligence officers, satellite and drone technology to determine the existence of terrorist training camps and nuclear facilities. United States relied on intelligence to kill Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, and Atiyah Abd al Rahman, the second in command, in May and August 2011 respectively. For terrorists to succeed in their missions, they have to identify and expel or hold captive military and intelligence officers, and frustrate American technology (Atwan, 2006).

United States and her allies may be forced to have a non-intervention policy. They have been accused causing the recent bloody revolutions in the Arabian Peninsula. A non-intervention policy would allow Al-Qaeda to mobilize Islamic populations to elect leaders who preserve and emphasize Islam. A non-intervention policy would mean that nuclear technology development in the middle-east will spread to Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, terrorist training camps will grow enormously in countries such as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. Peace in the middle-East would be threatened, especially in countries such as Israel and United Arab Emirates, among other allies of the United States. In Africa, terrorists will seek to dominate Somalia and catalyze oil-related conflicts in Southern Sudan and Nigeria, the refugee crisis in Kenya. A non-intervention policy would, therefore, enhance their activities.


Removal of “traitor” governments of Muslim countries and consequent set up a global pan-Islamic caliphate is the major objective of Al-Qaeda. Other objectives are expulsion of the United States military personnel from the Middle East and other parts of the world, setting up of military training camps and promotion of Islam.

It would be difficult for Al-Qaeda to carry out activities without confronting United States and attacking her. The objectives, are at the foremost, a threat to international peace and security. If a non-intervention policy was adopted, the likelihood of Al-Qaeda mobilizing the Islamic community in the establishment of a global caliphate, among other sub-goals, would be high.

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