General Question

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

How many people are in Al Qaeda?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (6583 points ) July 26th, 2008

I can not find any recent articles on how many members there are.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

crunchaweezy's avatar

**raises hand**

Hehe, does anyone really know? I don’t think you can get an exact number..

Zaku's avatar

See the Ministry of Truth.

wildflower's avatar

Check their club register?

jrpowell's avatar

I think that is kinda the point of having such a decentralized structure. Nobody knows. One cell in the United States might not even know that the cell in Dresden exists. And I doubt much that happens in the name of Al-Qaeda is actually Al-Qaeda. Calling everything Al-Qaeda makes it easier to continue “The War on Terror.”

Lightlyseared's avatar

as many as Bush or whoever says there are.

They are also holed up in whatever country they decide on too. Iran at the moment I suspect.

allengreen's avatar

Anyone that disagrees with the radical right, and Bush/Cheney Crime Familes. Ask the Boogie Man
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1118–06.htm

marinelife's avatar

From the New Yorker:

According to a recent National Intelligence Estimate, Al Qaeda has been regenerating, and remains the greatest terror threat to America. Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University, says that although Fadl’s denunciation has weakened Al Qaeda’s intellectual standing, “from the worm’s-eye view Al Qaeda fighters have on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, things are going more their way than they have in a long time.” He went on, “The Pakistani government is more accommodating. The number of suicide bombers in both countries is way up, which indicates a steady supply of fighters. Even in Iraq, the flow is slower but continues.”

Still, the core of Al Qaeda is much reduced from what it was before 9/11. An Egyptian intelligence official told me that the current membership totals less than two hundred men; American intelligence estimates range from under three hundred to more than five hundred. Meanwhile, new Al Qaeda-inspired groups, which may be only tangentially connected to the leaders, have spread, and older, more established terrorist organizations are now flying the Al Qaeda banner, outside the control of bin Laden and Zawahiri.

BCarlyle's avatar

This is a very hard question to answer precisely… it depends largely on how you define Al Qaeda membership or affiliation. The roots of Al Qaeda date back to the original jihadists that fought the soviets in Afghanistan in the 80’s. Many of the fighters that had personal relationships with Usama bin Laden during this conflict, became key members of the Al Qaeda organization.

As the organization grew and became more popular, various other organizations aligned themselves with Al Qaeda- to varying degrees. The following is a list of some of the better known muslim extremist organizations that have merged or aligned themselves with Al Qaeda.

Ayman al Zawahiri, formerly the leader of the Islamic Egyptian Jihad, merged his organization with Al Qaeda in 2001. (This organization had been operating in Egypt since the 1970s prior to their affiliation with Al Qaeda). For many years now, Zawahiri has been the #2 man behind bin Laden.

In September 2006, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Fighting (GSPC) also merged with Al Qaeda. They now identify themseles as Al Qaeda in the Land of the Magreb.

In November 2007, Abu Layth al Libi and Zawahiri publicised a combined statement saying that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Al Qaeda were merging.

The most significant one, however, would be Abu Musab al Zarqawi proclaiming his allegiance to bin Laden and Al Qaeda in October 2004. His organization was known as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (The Organization for Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers (Mesopotamia)). Following the merger, it is known simply as Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The previous poster is really dead on, the core Al Qaeda membership is actually pretty small- probably a few hundred. These are individuals that have personal relationships with the inner circle of Al Qaeda leadership (Usama bin Laden, Zawahiri, Abu Ayub al Masri etc.). The individuals and groups that maintain communication and take guidance from the leadership are definitely Al Qaeda members. However, many more groups may share a similar ideology or goals to Al Qaeda, though they lack direct relationships. The number of people that fit into these types of groups would be a significantly higher number- likely several thousand, or tens of thousands.

Additionally, the number of people that identify with Al Qaeda has risen and fallen drastically in the past 5 years. Following abuses by the US military in Iraq, large numbers of individuals from the muslim world came to fight Americans and to align themselves with Al Qaeda. In the past 12–24 months, the organization has been significantly reduced. This is somewhat due to members being killed or captured. More often, however, individuals and groups have left Al Qaeda after becoming disenchanted and dissapointed with the oganization. A number of individuals chose to leave Al Qaeda after being dissapointed with some of the techniques the group is willing to use to achieve its goals.

That is my two cents on the question… I know it’s a bit of a round about answer, but there are likely a few hundred genuine Al Qaeda members in the world right now. Several thousand more individuals are part of groups loosely aligned with Al Qaeda or that share very similar goals and ideology.

flutherother's avatar

140 139 132 128 126 125

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