Humanities › Issues Al Qaeda Network A Guide to Al Qaeda's Network Structure Share Flipboard Email Print Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. Hamid Mir. Hamid Mir. Hamid Mir/Wikimedia Commons (CC by 3.0) Issues Terrorism Groups & Tactics History & Causes The U. S. Government U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. Liberal Politics U.S. Conservative Politics Women's Issues Civil Liberties The Middle East Race Relations Immigration Crime & Punishment Animal Rights Canadian Government View More By Amy Zalman, Ph.D. Global Security Expert Ph.D., Middle Eastern Studies, New York University B.A., English Literature, Columbia University Amy Zalman, Ph.D., is a global security expert and the CEO of Prescient, a management consulting firm that helps organizational leaders anticipate and manage critical global changes. our editorial process Amy Zalman, Ph.D. Updated January 28, 2019 Also see: Al Qaeda leaders The Al Qaeda Network Some organizations may have operational ties to Osama bin Laden's core group. Increasingly, however, groups pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda have no formal association whatever. While many analysts use the metaphor of marketing to describe Al Qaeda as a 'brand,' and its offshoots as 'franchises,' others describe the decentralization phenomenon in terms of a core group of professionals, surrounded by new membership in 'grassroots' affiliates. This decentralization is a consequence of strategy, not accident, according to analyst Adam Elkus. In 2007, he wrote that: Al Qaeda has been moving towards decentralization ever since the invasion of Afghanistan, with isolated cells and loosely affiliated groups that have only a tenuous connection to the greater Al Qaeda hierarchy tapping into Some of these "knock-off" groups spring from pre-existing militant groups committed to some version of Islamist transformation of their society. In Algeria, for example, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a new incarnation of another group, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which has had a long, and violent, commitment to overthrowing the Algerian government. The group's sudden commitment to 'Al Qaeda- style' global jihad should be taken with a grain of salt or, at the least, examined in light of its local history. Al Qaeda—core organization: The original group headed by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al ZawahiriAl Qaeda in Iraq: An organization founded after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, AQI has morphed several times since.The Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Tanzim Al-Jihad): Egyptian Islamic Jihad was founded in the 1970s, and well known for its assassination of Egyptian President Sadat in 1981. It is a good example of an organization that has historically had a far greater interest in violent transformation of the Egyptian government than it has in a 'global jihad.'Ansar Al Islam: This Iraqi Kurdish organization was founded in 2001, and operates in the northern areas of Iraq and Iran. Its membership includes a number of members who trained or fought in Afghanistan, with bin Laden, and it is presumed to have close operational ties with Al Qaeda in the region.Al Jemaah Al Islamiyya: Al Jemaah Al Islamiyyah (The Islamic Group) is a southeast Asian group dedicated to bringing Islamist rule to the area. The United States suspects it of ties to Al Qaeda, but these seem tenuous on a large scale.Lashkar-i-Tayyiba: This Kashmir-based Sunni Pakistani group has historically directed its attacks at India. Leaders and members have demonstrated ties to some Al Qaeda members.Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb: This Algerian group grew out of one dedicated to the overthrow of the Algerian government. Its name change was accompanied by a pledge to put Western targets in its sights.Abu Sayyaf: This Philippine group has been called an Al Qaeda affiliate, but there is little evidence of a meaningful operational tie. Indeed, the organization is more like a criminal network than one committed to an ideological goal.