Al-Qaida’s current status as an apparently free-floating and stateless group, it must be recalled, is for Osama bin Laden and his cohorts very much a second best. Al-Qaida began life and long continued its operations with the support of states:
- 1980s, phase one: activity in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States
- 1990-96, phase two: work alongside the Islamist revolutionary regime in Sudan to export revolution to Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea
- 1996-2001, phase three: operations from Afghanistan, as an ally of the Taliban government
Al-Qaida is a state-centred group in a further, highly important, sense: its goal is to take power in specific Islamic states and establish a new form of authoritarian government, a caliphate.
Fred Halliday: A transnational umma - reality or myth?