a loosely-knit militant Islamic organization led and funded by Osama bin Laden, by whom it was established in the late 1980s from Arab volunteers who had fought the Soviet troops previously based in Afghanistan; known or believed to be behind a number of operations against Western, especially US, interests, including bomb attacks on two US embassies in Africa in 1998 and the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York in 2001
also Al-Qaeda; name of a loosely structured jihadist movement founded c.1989 by Osama bin Laden; from Arabic, literally "the base." A common Arabic term among Muslim radicals from the wider Islamic world who came to Afghanistan in 1980s and fought alongside local rebels against the Soviets, and who regarded themselves and their struggle not merely in Afghan terms but as the "base" or foundation of a wider jihad and revival in Islam. Used by Bin Laden's mentor, Abdallah Azzam (1941-1989), who referred to the "vanguard" which "constitutes the strong foundation [al-qaida al-sulbah] for the expected society." In U.S., the term first turns up in a CIA report in 1996.
Every Muslim, from the moment they realise the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews, and hates Christians. This is a part of our belief and our religion. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans. [Osama bin Laden, interview aired on Al-Jazeera, December 1998]