May 1, 2009
Brief History of Al-Qaeda
1989Osama bin Laden founds an international group known as al-Qaeda, which in Arabic means "the base." It is formed primarily of mujahedeen, meaning holy warriors, and others fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. 1993Osama bin Laden sets up militant training camps in Sudan and begins searching for nuclear material and weapons. Feb. 26, 1993 A 500-kilogram bomb explodes in a garage under World Trade Center in New York, killing six and injuring 1,042. Bin Laden associate Ramzi Yousef is sentenced to life without parole in February 1998 for orchestrating the bombing. Oct. 8, 1993Al-Qaeda supporters attack UN troops in Somalia, killing 18 U.S. servicemen June 26, 1995Al-Qaeda tries, unsuccessfully, to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Nov. 13, 1995Seven people, including five Americans, are killed when two bombs explode at a U.S.-Saudi military facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden is blamed for the attack. 1996After Osama bin Laden is expelled from Sudan, al-Qaeda moves its operation to Afghanistan. Iran sponsors a re-organization of al-Qaeda with bin Laden as leader. June 25, 1996Bin Laden followers bomb U.S. military base near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding hundreds of Americans and Saudi Arabians. Aug. 7, 1998Bombs explode at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing more than 220 people and injuring 5,000. The U.S. retaliates with air strikes against suspected training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan. Feb. 22, 1998Osama bin Laden calls for attacks on American citizens. Nov. 4, 1998A U.S. federal grand jury indicts Osama bin Laden in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa. Oct. 12, 2000Two suicide bombers, suspected to be associated with bin Laden, attack the navy destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 sailors. May 29, 2001A U.S. District Court jury finds four of Osama bin Laden's followers guilty of conspiring to kill Americans, including those killed in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. June 19, 2001Osama bin Laden releases a taped message, which many believe was the orders that triggered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. August 2001Osama bin Laden threatens attacks on U.S. Sept. 11, 2001Attacks on World Trade Center in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania kill close to 3,000 people. Al-Qaeda is blamed within days of the attacks. Oct. 7, 2001The United States launches air strikes in Afghanistan aimed at al-Qaeda training camps and Taliban bases. Osama bin Laden, in a videotaped message, praises God for Sept. 11 attacks and swears America will never "dream of security" until "the infidels' armies leave the land of Muhammad." Oct. 9, 2001Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith issues a statement calling for a holy war against the United States. Nov. 9, 2001 The Taliban flee the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Nov. 13, 2001Northern Alliance soldiers enter Kabul. Dec. 7, 2001 Taliban forces in Kandahar surrender to American troops. Dec. 11, 2001The United States files criminal charges against the alleged "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. Dec. 22, 2001Shoe bomber Richard Reid tries to blow up an American Airlines jet over the Atlantic. Mar. 18, 2002The United States ends its sweep through the mountains of Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda, but most of the Taliban and al-Qaeda escape. Oct. 12, 2003Bombs in two nightclubs in Bali kill 202 people. Authorities later charges members of a local group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which has ties with al-Qaeda. Oct. 23, 2003Chechen rebels, believed to be loosely affilated with al-Qaeda, storm a theatre in Moscow and take audience, actors and crew as hostages. Oct. 26, 2003Russian special forces use gas to retake the theatre. The total death toll, from the gas and from those killed by the hostages is 128. All 41 hostage-takers are also killed. Nov. 12, 2003Osama bin Laden releases an audiotape praising attacks in Bali and Moscow. Jan. 30, 2003 Shoe bomber Richard Reid sentenced to life in prison. Mar. 1, 2003 Pakistani and U.S. agents arrest Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the suspected masterminds of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mar. 20, 2003: The United States attacks Iraq. May 1, 2003U.S. President George W. Bush declares "major combat" over in Iraq. Jan. 4, 2004Bin Laden releases an audiotape calling on Muslims to continue "the jihad to check the conspiracies launched against the Islamic nation." Mar.11, 2004:Bombs on commuter trains in Madrid kill 190 people and injure more than 1,800. Spain later arrests more than a dozen suspects, many of them from Morocco and believed to have ties to al-Qaeda. Mar. 25, 2004:An audio tape believed to be from Ayman al-Zawahri, number two in al-Qaeda, is broadcast on al-Jazeera, calling for the overthrow of the government in Pakistan.