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Despite being on the U.S. radar and the groundwork being laid for what would become Al Qaeda during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1970s and 1980s, they were not considered a household name until after the morning of September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda’s leader was well known to the U.S. government. For nearly 10 years, the United States attempted to locate the organization’s figurehead in hopes of toppling Al Qaeda. In May 2011, seal team six entered a compound in Pakistan believed to be where Osama bin Laden was living. During this successful mission, bin Laden was killed. Despite the death of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda did not readily disappear. As a result of a well-structured yet fractured organization, Al Qaeda is able to continue to recruit, train, and plan new attacks using the deaths as a propaganda and recruitment tool. Despite perceptions, Al Qaeda is actually a very tech savvy organization and uses the media to further advance its cause. Through the use of technology Al Qaeda is able to generate membership and spread propaganda. Another advantage for Al Qaeda is their ability to adapt. They now seem to recruit younger persons to propel their cause. While already considered decentralized and not confined to any specific border, technology allows them the ability to be truly global. In addition to the ability to use the Internet as a recruitment tool, the cyber world can also be used for fundraising. Whether they fundraise through means of charities or illicit sales, the Internet provides a wider reach and anonymity. While recruitment and fundraising are part of their goals, technology has also made training easier for new recruits. The Al Qaeda magazine, Inspire, has become a terrorist how-to manual. The web allows for easy accessibility in order to learn how to successfully make and detonate a bomb and carry out any other planned attacks. Al Qaeda also uses the internet to profile potential targets, target specific groups or individuals, and for command and control mechanisms. The war on terror has lasted for roughly 12 years already with no end in sight. Al Qaeda and their affiliates have shown their willingness to adapt and change no matter the cost. Their patience has shown that they should not be underestimated or ruled out despite the death of bin Laden. The United States must continue to think outside the box in order to counter Al Qaeda’s threats.

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