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What is al Qaeda? It seems such a simple question: after all, it’s a term much bandied about by the public, politicians and pundits alike. Indeed, al Qaeda is now one of the best-known organizations in the world, with brand recognition seemingly only eclipsed by another successful franchise operation: McDonalds. Yet there is a great […]

This link between Islamist zealot and secular fascist just doesn’t add up Peter Bergen Thursday January 30, 2003The Guardian In his state of the union address President Bush returned to one of his favourite themes: Saddam Hussein “aids and protects” al-Qaida. Yet the evidence for this claim is somewhere between tenuous and non-existent. Every year […]

A suggested reading list for those who want to know more about al Qaeda, by topic Al Qaeda in general Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror, (New York: Random House, 2002) Peter Bergen, Holy War, Inc. Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (New York: Touchstone, 2002). (paperback edition) Rohan […]

Every few days, somewhere inside the daily newspaper, there is an account of someone being detained somewhere for some link to al-Qaeda or somebody being let go. French police arrest three men and a woman for links to a planned chemical attack. A German convert to Islam, suspected of having been in phone contact with the truck bomber who blew up a historic synagogue in Tunisia, slips out of the country while, it was reported, he was under surveillance. From this patchwork of dispatches, it’s hard to figure out just how the global pursuit of al-Qaeda is going. Joining us now is Peter Bergen, who’s the author of “Holy War, Inc.” and also CNN’s terrorism analyst.

While the Bush Administration looks to the weapons inspection process in Iraq to turn up a material breach worthy of war, hawks in and out of government have been making a separate case for invasion, claiming that a US military strike against the country is necessary under the amorphous rubric of the “war on terrorism” and because of Saddam Hussein’s alleged connections to Al Qaeda. In fact, it is Saudi Arabia rather than Iraq that has supplied much of the ideological and financial impetus for Al Qaeda, and it is Saudi Arabia that continues to play an obstructionist role in the investigation of the 9/11 attacks, not Iraq.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: An audio statement attributed to a known associate of Osama bin Laden reportedly threatens more attacks on Christians and Jews. The statement on al-Jazeera TV purportedly by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, says quote, “The Jewish crusader alliance will not, God willing, be safe from attacks anywhere. We will attack strategic interests with […]

 The Al Qaeda Connection: Try Riyadh not Baghdad.There may be good reasons to go to war against Saddam Hussein should he defy United Nations’ resolutions about his weapons of mass destruction, but going to war against Saddam under the amorphous rubric of the “war on terrorism” and his alleged connections to al Qaeda is not […]

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 CNN Special War on Terrorism

BERGEN: I think this story about the money transfers from the wife of the Saudi ambassador possibly to these hijackers, when you look at it, may not add up to very much. She probably didn’t know where the money was going. It is not even clear if it ended up in their pockets.
However, I think there is a wider point, Anderson, which is that Saudi Arabia historically has never cooperated with investigation in terrorist actions against Americans, that was in the ’90s, and the attacks against U.S. facilities in Saudi Arabia, Dhahran and Khobar Towers. But again in the 9/11 investigation where you would have thought they would be pretty cooperative. I know some people directly involved in the investigation. They use the words like “useless,” “obstructionist,” “despicable;” those are the words that are printable.

Thursday, Nov 21, 2002 Al Nashiri arrest

(CNN) — The arrest of Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a significant development in the international war on terrorism. Peter Bergen, CNN’s terror analyst, placed al-Nashiri in an al Qaeda “top 10” of leaders. He spoke with CNN Anchor Martin Savidge about the arrest Thursday. SAVIDGE: This is a man who is claimed to be a […]