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al-Qaeda

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Al-Qaeda is creating its most powerful stronghold ever in north-west Syria at a time when world attention is almost entirely focused on the impending defeat of Isis in the east of the country. It has established full control of Idlib province and of a vital Syrian-Turkish border crossing since July. “Idlib Province is the largest... Read More
They have done it again. The US, Britain and regional allies led by Saudi Arabia have come together to intervene in another country with calamitous results. Instead of achieving their aims, they have produced chaos, ruining the lives of millions of people and creating ideal conditions for salafi-jihadi movements like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The... Read More
The Islamist group is receiving support from Sunni tribes, and offering a sanctuary for Western jihadists such as the Kouachi brothers, who visited in 2011
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is becoming more powerful because it provides the troops for a Sunni community that feels under increasing threat from a Shia insurgency that has seized much of the country. Its increased strength has nothing to do with foreign jihadists like Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who killed 12 people in Paris last weekand... Read More
Exhaustion could end Syria's bloody civil conflict, so long as foreign backers really want it
It has been a good week for those who like their hypocrisy neat and straight from the bottle. There was US Secretary of State John Kerry condemning the Syrian presidential election in which Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for a third time against nominal opposition as "a great big zero". But at the same time, the... Read More
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Our foreign correspondent's investigation into the jihadi resurgence
Twelve and a half years after 9/11, al-Qa’ida-type organisations control an area the size of Britain in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Include Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia and the territory they rule is larger in size than the UK. What is so extraordinary – and blameworthy – is that this vast expansion of jihadist groups... Read More
In the final part of his series, Patrick Cockburn explains how Sunni fundamentalist groups are successfully winning recruits through well-funded internet propaganda
Since 9/11, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ have justified their mass interception of their citizens’ private communications by claiming that this helps them to identify “terrorists”. At the same time, the US Treasury has made great efforts to detect and block financial donations to al-Qa’ida-type movements across the world. But, given... Read More
In the fourth of his series about the resurgence of al-Qa’ida, Patrick Cockburn examines how Islamists have turned the uprising against President Assad into a sectarian war
Just after the sarin poison gas attacks on rebel-held districts of Damascus in August last year, I appeared on an American television programme with Razan Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer and founder of the Violations Documentation Centre, who was speaking via Skype from the opposition stronghold of Douma in East Damascus. She gave a compelling,... Read More
In the third part of his series, Patrick Cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq, which dominates Sunni areas and is wreaking havoc among the Shia majority
Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over... Read More
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The role of Saudi Arabia as the jihadists’ greatest ally – will the kingdom be forced to change tack in the face of American impatience and anarchy in Syria
It is a chilling five-minute film made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), showing its fighters stopping three large trucks on what looks like the main highway linking Syria and Iraq. A burly bearded gunmen takes the ID cards of the drivers who stand nervously in front of him. “You are... Read More
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In 2014 al-Qa’ida-type groups are numerous and powerful… In other words, the ‘war on terror’ has demonstrably failed
It is now 12-and-a-half years since the September 11 attacks that put al-Qa’ida firmly on the map of global terrorism. The US has spent billions of dollars on its ‘war on terror’ to counter the threat and succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden three years ago. And yet al-Qa’ida-type groups are arguably stronger than ever... Read More
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Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


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