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Although bin Laden still held considerable ideological sway over some Muslim extremists before his death, experts argue that al-Qaeda has fragmented over the years into a variety of regional movements that have little connection with one another. We are the children of an Islamic Nation, with Prophet Muhammad as its leader, our Lord is one... created a military base to train the young men to fight against the vicious, arrogant, brutal, terrorizing Soviet empire... Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was alleged to be second in command prior to his death on August 22, 2011.Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, said that al-Qaeda is now just a "loose label for a movement that seems to target the west. We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with." ... and all the true believers [mu'mineen] are brothers. So this place was called 'The Base' ['Al-Qa'idah'], as in a training base, so this name grew and became. We are the children of a nation, and we are an inseparable part of it, and from those public *** which spread from the far east, from the Philippines, to Indonesia, to Malaysia, to India, to Pakistan, reaching Mauritania... Osama bin Laden was the most historically notable emir, or commander, and Senior Operations Chief of al-Qaeda prior to his assassination on May 1, 2011, by U. Bin Laden was advised by a Shura Council, which consists of senior al-Qaeda members, estimated by Western officials to consist of 20–30 people.

Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military targets in various countries, including the 1998 U. embassy bombings, the September 11 attacks, and the 2002 Bali bombings. With the loss of key leaders, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's operations have devolved from actions that were controlled from the top down, to actions by associated groups and lone-wolf operators.It was made up primarily of foreign mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.Many went on to fight in Bosnia and Somalia for global jihad.Curtis contends the name "al-Qaeda" was first brought to the attention of the public in the 2001 trial of bin Laden and the four men accused of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa: The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term "al-Qaeda" to refer to the name of a group until after September 11 attacks, when he realized that this was the term the Americans had given it.As a matter of law, the US Department of Justice needed to show that bin Laden was the leader of a criminal organization in order to charge him in absentia under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as the RICO statutes.

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