Youssouf Diallo/Hans Krech


East Africa was the cradle of the Salafistic terrorist organization Al Qaida, which was founded on 18th August 1988 in the house of Osama bin Laden, which had 15 founder members, and which aimed at training 314 fighters within six months. Al Qaida was a small Salafistic terrorist cell among hundreds of similar Islamistic terrorist groups. Al Qaida was distinguished by its close connection to the Saudi underground opposition, the Ikhwan, which had fought against the Saudi dynasty since 1929. Its leader was Osama bin Laden, whose personality was to play an important part in the rise of Al Qaida. He had descended from one of the wealthiest Arabian families, had had an elitist education, and had many years of fighting experience in Afghanistan, having cooperated with many secret services - with the international secret service of Saudi-Arabia, the CIA and the ISI- where he had acquired his basic knowledge of the conspiratorial structure of a terrorist cell. In addition to that, Osama bin Laden had funds higher than average at his disposal during the early stage of Al Qaida, and he used them for fostering other small Salafistic terrorist groups. In September 2001 Al Qaida had at least 30.000.000 US$. From 1991 until 18th May 1996 Osama bin Laden, together with some other members of Al Qaida, was in exile in Sudan. There he met the leaders of other terrorist groups, sometimes several times per week, and tried in vain to get them to join Al Qaida. Not one single Islamistic terrorist group followed him. Only the left-wing terrorist Carlos expressed his enthusiasm for Osama bin Laden. At that time Khartoum was a kind of mecca for terrorists of every shade and colour from all over the world, and they were more or less tolerated by the Sudan government. And it was from Khartoum that Osama bin Laden began to send messengers to the other East African states, who established contacts with Salafistic groups in Kenya and Somalia. In Somalia some Al Qaida instructors took over the military training of the developing small Salafistic groups. Thus the first cells of Al Qaida emerged in East Africa, representing the first Al Qaida structures on the African continent. Several years, however, were to pass before the first African terrorist group officially joined Al Qaida, namely the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which had been founded in 1980 and had been led by Ayman as-Zawahiri since 1991. The EIJ had about 1.000 fighters in the Cairo area. From 1991 until 1996 the majority of the fighters and leaders were staying in Sudan as well. Since about 1994 Osama bin Laden financed the EIJ, which as the first Salafistic terrorist group joined Al Qaida on 23rd February 1998. Only from 1998 onwards Al Qaida began to become active with provocative attacks, to emerge from the quagmire of small Islamistic terrorist groups and to mature into the first global non-governmental terrorist organization of today. In 2012 Al Qaida is growing more rapidly in Africa than in all other operation areas, and in Mali and Somalia it has turned to open rebellion.